One of Justice Scalia’s primary influences on constitutional law and theory has been the growth of originalist textualism – the view that takes close textual readings of the Constitution seriously and draws important consequences for constitutional law from the text rather than someone’s view of what is normatively desirable. One of the people who has a particular keen interest in such textual differences and their consequences is Seth Barrett Tillman, who has over the last several years sought to closely examine seemingly minor textual variations and to draw significant consequences from them.
In Jotwell, the Journal of Things We Like, Will Baude summarizes and appreciates Seth’s scholarship in this area. Will explains how Seth has looked at various terms in the Constitution — “Officer,” “Officers of the United States,” “Officer under the […] United States,” “Public Trust under the United States,” “Offices of Honor/Trust/Profit under the United States,” and “Office under the Authority of the United States.” Could each of these terms really have distinct meanings? For many years, even originalist textualists have often assumed the answer is no.
But Seth argues there are important differences between these terms. Will discusses some of the interpretations and evidence that Seth has used to justify these distinctions. And he has an extremely useful chart with all six categories and the meanings offered by Seth.