Constitutional Law and American Politics

Mark A. Graber

in The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199208425
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

 Constitutional Law and American Politics

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Public law scholars whose scholarship focuses primarily on the public conflicts between constitutional authorities fail to appreciate how constitutional law influences politics and judicial decision making in the United States. Legal norms better explain how constitutional controversies are structured than how they are resolved. Basic principles of constitutional law help secure legal agreement in the face of political disagreement. When political disagreements are resolved into legal disagreements, basic principles of constitutional law alter the terrain on which those conflicts are fought. This article examines how and why constitutional law influences both judicial and public decision making. It discusses the tendency for political scientists to first claim that constitutional law is no different to other forms of policy-making, observes how those claims are almost always qualified in practice, and points to problems with the standard qualifications. The article then considers policy and law in constitutional decision making.

Keywords: United States; constitutional law; politics; judicial decision making; political disagreements; legal disagreements; policy; constitutional decision making; policy making

Article.  8912 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Politics and Law

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