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Strict Constructionism

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

Strict Constructionism is the judicial philosophy whereby the Constitution is interpreted in a literal or strict manner.

When practicing strict constructionism, justices will take an issue and look for the original intent of the Founding Fathers in the Constitution. Justices that are described as strict constructionists tend to favour State’s rights over the rights of the Federal Government. They tend to be labelled as conservatives.

Perhaps the most famous example of this is the interpretation of the First Amendment by Associate Justice Hugo Black. Black followed this approach that Congress shall make no law…, therefore if Congress made a law which even looked as if it infringed upon the First Amendment, it should be struck down, with no further discussion.

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