[Note: My colleague, Rabbi Philip Bentley, has written a thoughtful blog in response to Justice Scalia’s judicial philosophy of “Originalism” as embraced by Judge Amy C. Barret. It is worth reading as Rabbi Bentley describes properly how Judge Barret’s radical judicial philosophy is contrary to the spirit of the development of Jewish law itself, as well as the development of American law. I highly recommend that you take the time to read what he has written – see link below. The following is the opening to his blog.]
“Recently there has been a lot of talk about Scalia’s judicial philosophy of Originalism, because it is also embraced by Amy C. Barrett who is currently engaged in Senate hearings on her SCOTUS nomination. Leaving aside the impropriety of rushing this nomination ahead of an election, I have a problem with Originalism – the philosophy that judicial decisions must be based on what the Framers intended to say. Aside from the difficulty of achieving that, I find it a questionable approach to interpretation of the law.
This comes from what I know of the Jewish legal tradition that is well over 3000 years old. If Jews tried to apply Torah law as if we were still a semi-nomadic agrarian society, I doubt there would be any Jews left in the world. Adaptation of those laws begins within the Torah itself. We do care about what Torah law means but we have been amending practices constantly over the millennia to adapt to changing times and circumstances.
What follows is a chapter from a not-yet-published book on the paradox of God-given laws and how their application has evolved. As I understand it, justices do take into account the social impact of their decisions, but setting legal precedent based on the late 18th century in a novel form of government in a society and economy very different from ours seems wrong to me.”
For Rabbi Bentley’s complete blog see https://pearleafblog.com/