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Searching for the Crown of Feathers: An Essay on Psychology, Ethics, and Truth in Constitutional Law

20 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2011  

Marie A. Failinger

Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Date Written: January 1, 2000

Abstract

Law professors and students, like aging scholars pouring over a fragment of text, are often captivated by the constitutional argument. It is aesthetically rich, but it encompasses only the fragment of a controversy within a living community. Like a bright carrot chunk in a rich stew, the constitutional argument takes its flavor from, and lends it color and texture to that controversy. Battleground, a narrative history of Mozert v. Hawkins County Board of Education, a constitutional case that attracted national advocacy groups, reminds us of the rich stew in which the Constitution comes to fully nourish our common political and social life. In attempting to brink a depth of understanding to the story of a constitutional controversy, we might normally talk about its “layers” or its “levels” of meaning. Battleground reminds us that this structural metaphor is too thin to convey the full meaning of a real constitutional case: more often than not, in such a complex case, our moments of understanding float in and out of our common vision, touching and drifting in a broth of living history. The article discusses the costs of ignoring “ingredients” of a constitutional case, such as the psychological elements, through the case of Mozert v. Hawkins County Board of Education.

Keywords: Constitutional arguments, constitutional case, Battleground, psychological elements, lawyers, legal realist tradition

Suggested Citation

Failinger, Marie A., Searching for the Crown of Feathers: An Essay on Psychology, Ethics, and Truth in Constitutional Law (January 1, 2000). Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, Vol. 9, p. 381, 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1929526

Marie A. Failinger (Contact Author)

Mitchell Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105-3076
United States

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