(Crossposted from the American Constitution Society :: Columbia Law School)
In Conroy v. Aniskoff, 507 U.S. 511, 520 (1993), Antonin Scalia includes a comment that he repeated here at Columbia Law School in 2006 — that the use of legislative history to bolster one's own position is "the equivalent of entering a crowded cocktail party and looking over the heads of the guests for one's friends." As much as I agree with Scalia here, I find it heartening to stumble across this bit of congressionally approved language from the 5th Congress:
Treaty of Peace and Friendship, signed at Tripoli November 4, 1796 (3 Ramada I, A. H. 1211), and at Algiers January 3, 1797 (4 Rajab, A. H. 1211). Original in Arabic. Submitted to the Senate May 29, 1797. (Message of May 26, 1797.) Resolution of advice and consent June 7, 1797. Ratified by the United States June 10, 1797. As to the ratification generally, see the notes. Proclaimed Jane 10, 1797.
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.