The Jurisprudence of Mixed Motives

70 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2017 Last revised: 28 Mar 2018

See all articles by Andrew Verstein

Andrew Verstein

Wake Forest University School of Law

Date Written: February 20, 2017


Legal results often turn on motive, and motive is often complex. How do various domains of law deal with mixed motives? Are we condemned by our darkest motive, forgiven according to our noblest, or something in between? This Article conducts a sweeping examination of motivations in the law, from Equal Protection and employment discrimination to insider trading and income taxation. It develops a precise descriptive vocabulary for categorizing the treatment of mixed motives in numerous areas of law. This framework yields several important insights. For example: nearly all domains of law pick among just four motive standards, and motive-based analysis is far more workable than commonly believed.

Suggested Citation

Verstein, Andrew, The Jurisprudence of Mixed Motives (February 20, 2017). Yale Law Journal, Vol. 127, p. 1106; Wake Forest Univ. Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN:

Andrew Verstein (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 7206
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States
3367585433 (Phone)


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