Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin didn’t win friends when he announced that (1) he is now a constitutional originalist and (2) the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the right to abortion. His claim to membership in the originalist club brought forth a small army of eager bouncers, who were sure that originalism couldn’t possibly defend the paradigmatic departure from the Constitution’s original meaning.
Balkin has indeed posed a radical challenge to the vision of law that drives the originalists – more radical than he is willing to admit. His theory is in such deep tension with a commonly held vision of the rule of law that his argument is, to put the point precisely, disgusting. But that doesn’t mean that he is wrong.