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Behind the Mask of Method
American Psychology-Law Society (2007)
  • Joshua R Furgeson
  • Linda Babcock
  • Peter M. Shane, Ohio State University - Main Campus
Debate about how to best interpret the Constitution
often revolves around interpretive methodologies
(e.g., originalism or expansive interpretation). This article
examines whether individuals’ political orientation influences
the methodologies they prefer to use to interpret the
Constitution. We study this proposed relationship using a
survey of federal law clerks and an experimental study with
college students. The survey results indicate that, compared
to conservatives, liberal clerks prefer the current meaning
or the most plausible appealing meaning of the constitutional
text, while conservatives prefer the original meaning
of the text. Liberal clerks also prefer to interpret the
Constitution much more expansively. The second study
manipulates the policy implications of expansive interpretation
and finds this manipulation differentially affects
liberals’ and conservatives’ expansiveness preferences.
  • judicial decisionmaking,
  • judging,
  • interpretation,
  • cognition,
  • Constitutional Interpretation,
  • Originalism,
  • Interpretive methodology
Publication Date
October 5, 2007
Citation Information
Joshua R Furgeson, Linda Babcock and Peter M. Shane. "Behind the Mask of Method" American Psychology-Law Society (2007)
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