Can Any Legal Theory Constrain Any Judicial Decision?

25 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2010

Date Written: August 17, 2010


A growing number of legal scholars have recently revived the American legal realist thesis that legal theory does not dictate the result in any particular case because legal theory itself is indeterminate. A more radical group has added that theory can never constrain judicial practice. I will present a spectrum of types of legal theories to demonstrate that the position of the more radical group of writers is correct – that legal theory is inherently incapable of identifying which party should win any given case.

Keywords: legal theory, judicial decisions, legal realist thesis, wealth maximization principle, critical legal studies

JEL Classification: K10, K49

Suggested Citation

D'Amato, Anthony, Can Any Legal Theory Constrain Any Judicial Decision? (August 17, 2010). University of Miami Law Review, Vol. 43, p. 513, 1989; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 10-39. Available at SSRN:

Anthony D'Amato (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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