Building on the theoretical model of Chapter 3, this chapter seeks to assess whether “law” affects judicial decisions independently of policy preferences. Numerous legal doctrines may shape judicial decision-making, including stare decisis, originalism, plain meaning, the promotion of democratic participation, and doctrines with regard to specific elements of the Constitution such as the Bill of Rights or the commerce clause. The chapter concentrates on three legal doctrines (stare decisis, strict interpretation of the Constitution, and judicial restraint) that are both prominent and clearly more likely to play a role in structuring decision-making on some cases than on others. These doctrines are not necessarily canons of jurisprudence that are universally shared; they are principles that are widely acknowledged in the legal world as appropriately influencing constitutional interpretation.
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