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Noted Scholars Debate Constitutional Interpretation

April 11, 2013

Nadine Strossen, constitutional scholar and former president of the American Civil Liberties Union and professor at New York Law School, and Earl M. Maltz, respected constitutional scholar and professor at Rutgers School of Law Camden, discussed U.S. constitutional interpretation at the law school on April 10. 

Strossen and Maltz discussed a host of topics ranging from from the different equal protection to voting rights as well as the recent U.S. Supreme Court Affordable Care Act decision. 

Maltz argued that the outcome of various U.S. Supreme Court decisions on these issues turns on whether an "activist judiciary" presided over a particular case.  Maltz advocated an "originalist" perspective of constitutional interpretation, meaning courts should give deference to the Constitution and laws in general.  Courts were not made to write or repeal laws, only to uphold them, Maltz said. 

On the other hand, Strossen argued that the framers wrote the Constitution with the intention of allowing courts to interpret it.  The language in the Constitution is broad for a reason, Strossen said.  If the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts are going to be effective, they must go beyond the text when faced with Constitutional questions, she added.