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Thursday, May 25, 2006

More on Merrill, Takings and the West Wing

A few weeks ago, Kurt Paulsen wrote a post about the reference in the West Wing to a missing comma in the takings clause.  Kurt just sent me the following update:

I decided to see if the National Archives had a high resolution image of the Constitution available.  They did.  Using a standard JPEG viewer, I zoomed in as close as I could get.  I then captured the screen image, which is attached.  Sure looks like a comma to me such that the Takings clause ACTUALLY should read:

...taken for public use, without just compensation.

There's a law review article just waiting to be written on this!

Click on the image below to expand and see for yourself.

Paulsen_takings_clause_pic

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/property/2006/05/more_on_merrill.html

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Comments

Didn't they make a bunch of copies of it to send out when they first made it? Surely they would have made sure it was correct in the versions they sent out for public debate.

Posted by: Gump | May 25, 2006 12:15:25 PM

I'm not sure about copies, but apparently government publications and early cases are split on whether there is a comma or not.

Posted by: Ben Barros | May 25, 2006 12:51:36 PM

For comparison sake, consider the version of the Constitution available at the website of the National Archives:

http://www.archives.gov/national-archives-experience/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html

In the National Archives version, the takings clause has a comma.

Now, consider the official version linked to by the U.S. Congress, and available at the website of the Government Printing Office:

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=105_cong_documents&docid=f:sd011.105.pdf

No comma in the takings clause.

Posted by: Kurt Paulsen | May 26, 2006 7:43:54 AM

Sure looks like a comma to me!!

Posted by: James | May 31, 2006 10:12:34 AM

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