In and Around “here”

The difference between liberal and conservative legal traditions is as simple as the difference between their respective buzzverbs "inhere" and "adhere."

Left-leaning lawyers look to the text to see how far we can stretch what might be considered inherent (if usually unwritten) powers.

Right-leaning lawyers look to what has gone before — text and subsequent decisions — to determine what next steps might adhere to the existing body of law.

The former looks to what we would like to happen and looks to what existing text might be construed to inherently permitting it. The latter looks to what has already happened and moves forward cautiously, respectfully aware of the existing structure.

This is all v rhetorical, obvi. But interesting to have attended a panel hosted by the American Constitution Society and hear an entirely different language. Not mere rhetoric, but even the definitions of words were different. Jack Balkin, for instance, identified himself as an "originalist." Indeed, even the Constitution they were expounding had an entirely different name; rather than the Constitution of the United States, it was called the Bill of Rights, the 14th Amendment, et cetera.

Illuminating. I thought I understood English until I started law school, and have learned every day since that there is so much English left to learn!


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