March 13, 2010

Profiling Originalism

Nathaniel Persily, Jamal Greene, and Stephen Ansolabehere have a draft of a paper titled "Profiling Orginalism" up at SSRN. The abstract:
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 and multiple regression analysis 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 formal 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.
Blogging at Balkinization, Nate Persily describes it as "the first paper to come from the national public opinion survey of attitudes toward constitutional issues that we conducted last summer." I just wanted to flag it for those who may be interested. I am hoping to read it in the next week and when I do I will post some thoughts.

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