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Thomas Phillips:

Oct. 5, 2010

"When you get to the United States Supreme Court, the litigants have typically been fighting with each other for several years. They both have a claim within the text, whether it's the statute or the Constitution. So you get back to, what was the intent of the framers? Did they know they were going to write a document that would last well over 200 years? How broad did they make it so it could accommodate changing times? What is legitimate for a judge to look to in deciding how to put meaning into those words?

"These are very tough issues. I always felt on my court, it was illegitimate for me to decide a case just the way I would like the law to come out. But I did not feel that there was one simple answer, like plain meaning or look at the intent of the framer, that would solve every case. It was a nuanced, difficult battle, and I felt my job was to try to get into the head and the spirit of whoever had come up with the text we were trying to apply -- whether it was the legislature or the voters of Texas or the framers and ratifiers of the Constitution of the United States -- about what they would want this text to do in this situation."


Jennifer Elrod
Wallace Jefferson
Thomas R. Phillips
Stuart Taylor

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