Our Founding Feelings: Emotion, Commitment, and Imagination in Constitutional Culture
New York Law School
University of Richmond Law Review, Vol. 43, p. 623, 2009
NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09/10 #25
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 62
Keywords: emotion, commitment, imagination, constitutional law, constitutional culture, constitutional theory
Date posted: March 4, 2009