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Our Founding Feelings: Emotion, Commitment, and Imagination in Constitutional Culture

University of Richmond Law Review, Vol. 43, p. 623, 2009

NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09/10 #25

62 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2009  

Doni Gewirtzman

New York Law School

Abstract

Traditionally, scholars and judges have treated emotion as a destructive force within constitutional culture. This Article uses recent developments in social psychology, neurobiology, and political psychology to challenge this dominant account and reposition emotion as central to our collective constitutional endeavor. It argues that emotion is critical to commitment and imagination, two features of human behavior that are essential to constitutional legitimacy and innovation. Further, emotions shape our perceptions and preferences about constitutional values through their impact on attitude development and moral decision-making. Finally, our increased understanding of emotion's impact on human behavior has the potential to alter the way we think about a range of ongoing debates in constitutional theory, including the merits of judicial supremacy, the relationship between the Court and public opinion, the standards for constitutional amendment, and the design of democratic institutions.

Keywords: emotion, commitment, imagination, constitutional law, constitutional culture, constitutional theory

Suggested Citation

Gewirtzman, Doni, Our Founding Feelings: Emotion, Commitment, and Imagination in Constitutional Culture. University of Richmond Law Review, Vol. 43, p. 623, 2009; NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09/10 #25. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1353337

Doni Gewirtzman (Contact Author)

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States

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