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The New Yorker Radio Hour

Neil Gorsuch and the Uses of History

We have yet to learn just how closely the views of the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch resemble those of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a staunch conservative and a standard-bearer for the legal philosophy known as originalism. Originalists claim to interpret the Constitution by relying on its words and on the contemporary writings of the Constitution's framers. The New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore, a professor of history, says that Gorsuch has been candid about the limitations of historical thinking. But she also notes that liberal jurists, for their part, have become more engaged in historical research to bolster their decisions, and thus are “out-originalizing originalists.” Plus: Alexa is the voice-recognition program in Echo, Amazon’s speaker device. It sits in your house, always on, listening for commands to look up information, play media on your computer, or order stuff from Amazon. The New Yorker’s Sarah Larson tests out Alexa, and finds it to be like “2001: A Space Odyssey” crossed with “The Golden Girls.”

This episode originally aired on September 30, 2016

 

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