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An Introduction to Originalist Angles

Note from the Editors

Federal Indian Law

 

Dear readers, 

 

We are Kevin Bizily and Maxwell Steinberg, and we are pleased to introduce the inaugural edition of Originalist Angles. High school students like ourselves rarely have opportunities to engage with constitutional law, and there are few ways for us to engage in legal writing and scholarship. As students often lack a complete understanding of the judicial decision-making process and different interpretive theories, we decided to establish Originalist Angles. Our goal is to provide an opportunity for fellow high school students to research complex legal questions, study and engage with the legal philosophy of originalism, and put their insights and commentaries on paper.

 

Consistent with our mission of engaging young academic minds in complex and contested areas of law through the lens of originalism, the driving force behind this project (which appears on the header above every article) can be summarized as follows: Quoting lexicographer Noah Webster, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia remarked that American students “must know and love the laws, this knowledge should be diffused by means of schools and newspapers, and an attachment to the laws may be formed by early impressions on the mind.”​ We seek to use Originalist Angles to inspire this knowledge and love of American law in high school students by providing a forum to write and publish legal articles and producing articles that a high school audience can read and learn from.

 

Our goal is to empower students to engage with the annals of American history and judicial precedent through a medium designed for their use. In this manner, Originalist Angles promotes the expression of civil academic disagreement and understanding of adverse positions, a skill of life not unique to legal or scholarly contexts.

 

Given that discussions of originalism have become increasingly prominent throughout the judiciary, we sought to encourage students to interact with this theory as they see fit. Writers were not asked to take an originalist position one way or another on any given issue. However, we encouraged them to discuss the methodology in any way they sought fit. Consistent with our value of creating a space for hearty intellectual debate, students could use or critique any interpretive philosophies throughout their writing.

 

Due to the Supreme Court’s recent interest in the topic, particularly in cases such as McGirt, Castro-Huerta, and Brackeen, we selected federal Indian law as the theme for our inaugural issue. In addition, since federal-tribal and state-tribal relationships have existed since the dawn of our Republic, we hoped this topic would engage students with both the Supreme Court’s recent activities and centuries of American history. Accordingly, our writers have drafted and submitted pieces on various issues in federal Indian law – ranging from the Indian Commerce Clause to tribal sovereign immunity to the usage of canons of construction in Indian law jurisprudence – demonstrating writing abilities far and above the average high school level.

 

We want to applaud our writers, who voyaged into uncharted waters as they put together their articles for this issue. Writing concisely in an unbiased or persuasive manner while navigating unfamiliar jargon is an incredibly daunting task, further complicated due to their lack of access to Westlaw or a law library. We are thrilled to offer a lower-pressure environment for students to practice these skills outside of the classroom in ~2,000-word articles. 

 

Please enjoy these articles as academic works-in-progress, which reflect our writers’ efforts to understand and convey complicated legal issues. All work reflects the emerging perspectives of students without formal legal education, which for many writers was their first experience deeply pondering and engaging with the Constitution, federal law, or the U.S. judicial system. To what extent these articles present fully “originalist” angles is up for debate, as our writers’ positions and arguments span all manners of legal philosophy.

 

We will publish high-quality work based on different themes roughly every other month and announce our next issue’s theme shortly. Readers can expect us to release more short-form pieces and articles in the meantime.

 

All articles published by Originalist Angles solely reflect the views and opinions of their authors. In addition, we are proud to report that all writing and review was done by high school students under the age of eighteen.

 

As we post our first issue, we would like to thank our advisory board: Professors Ilan Wurman (O’Connor College of Law), Lawrence Solum (UVA School of Law), Randy Barnett (Georgetown University Law Center), and Dr. David Bobb (President, Bill of Rights Institute).

 

Please direct any inquiries or musings to team@originalistangles.com. We would love to hear from you about anything and everything! Be sure to subscribe to the journal on our website to get the latest updates and information! Finally, students interested in writing for our next edition should reach out to us, and we will release our next topic in the coming weeks.

 

Happy reading!

Sincerely,

Maxwell Steinberg and Kevin Bizily,

Originalist Angles Editors.

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