Friday, August 7, 2020

Partlett on Constitutional Historiography

William Partlett, Melbourne Law School, has posted Constitutional Historiography:
This paper will argue that the insights of professional historians can and should be used to better understand the use of history in constitutional argument. Historiography—the methodology of professional historians—demonstrates that history is frequently used selectively to advance a favored outcome. Judges and constitutional scholars should therefore be highly critical of claims that history provides objective answers to constitutional questions. At the same time, historiography shows that non-selective accounts of history can and should play an important role in finding answers to contemporary constitutional questions. In this role, history is under-determined and best used to support or shed new light on a constitutional argument. Historiography therefore demonstrates not just the perils of historical argument but also its possibilities for constitutional argument.
--Dan Ernst