Friday, July 27, 2018

Thanks to the dictionaries

“I sort of felt like I had them in the crosshairs”: John Mikhail, Georgetown law professor. He and Genevieve Bentz, a law student, examined every definition of emolument in dictionaries of English published between 1604 and 1806, and in dictionaries of common law published between 1523 and 1792. The conclusion: for the framers of the United States Constitution, emolument had a broad definition: “profit,” “advantage,” “gain,” or “benefit.”

Mikhail and Bentz’s dictionary work was a crucial factor in a federal court’s decision this week to allow an emoluments-clause lawsuit against Donald Trump to proceed.

[Thanks to the Dictionary: a 1932 prose work by Louis Zukofsky, published in 1961.]

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