Friday, March 12, 2010

Profiling Originalism

Nate Persily

Jamal Greene, Stephen Ansolabehere and I have completed a draft of our paper, "Profiling Originalism", which is the first paper to emerge from the national public opinion survey of attitudes toward the Constitution that we conducted last summer. Adam Liptak describes the study in today's Week in Review here. The paper can be downloaded here. We are eager to receive comments, so please email them to me. The abstract appears below:

Originalism is a common subject of both legal and political discourse. It is frequently invoked not just in law reviews but during election campaigns, at confirmation hearings, and interstitially on cable news, in print media, and on talk radio. This Article presents the first empirical study of public attitudes towards originalism. Our study uses original survey data to better understand the demographic characteristics, legal views, political orientation, and cultural profile of those who self-identify as originalist. We conclude that the most significant predictors of an individual preference for originalism are the respondent’s view on the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, her level of education, and her relative level of moral traditionalism. Our analysis suggests that originalism has currency not only as a legal proposition about constitutional interpretation but also, and no less significantly, as a political commodity and as a culturally expressive idiom. This conclusion carries consequences for debates about the role of the public in shaping constitutional meaning and in influencing judicial decisionmaking.

Older Posts
Newer Posts