Law & the Courts

Katy Tur: Is Constitutional Originalism Still ‘Appropriate’ in 2018?


NBC News correspondent Katy Tur suggested that a leftward shift in public opinion on various policy issues should effect the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution during a Wednesday afternoon episode of her program MSNBC Live.

Speaking to author and conservative pundit J.D. Vance about the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Tur asked: “Based on where Americans stand on the issues — Americans have really moved in a much more progressive direction over the years — do you think it’s appropriate to continue to take such a strict originalist view of the Constitution given it’s 2018 and not 1776?”

Vance responded by questioning whether Americans’ views have actually grown more progressive across the board, before emphasizing the distinction between policy preferences and proper interpretation of the Constitution.

“Well the arc of history has shown that opinions have become more progressive” Tur responded. “And even just lately on the issues that are potentially going to come before the court and issues that have been ruled on relatively recently by the court, Americans are more progressive. Look at the polling.”

The newly minted anchor, who rose to prominence by writing a tell-all book about her experience covering the Trump campaign, went on to detail polling which purportedly demonstrated widespread public opposition to uninhibited corporate political spending and public support for legalized abortion.

Vance, author of the bestselling book Hillbilly Elegy, again reiterated the importance of maintaining a separation between public opinion and the interpretation of the law.

“Again, I’d segment what you think the proper public policy should be from what a constitutional Supreme Court should rule under our system,” Vance said. “So I think Judge Kavanaugh’s views about the Constitution are really what we should be talking about, not whether he wants to move us in a particular public-policy direction….I know Judge Kavanaugh quite well, and I think his view is that on a lot of these topics the legislature should be deciding, the people should be deciding, the court should largely leave the people to make those decisions themselves.”

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