Modes of Constitutional Analysis: The Constitutional Avoidance Doctrine (Part 9) [March 29, 2022]   [open pdf - 780KB]

From the Document: "This Legal Sidebar Post is the last in a nine-part series [hyperlink] that discusses certain 'methods' or 'modes' of analysis that the Supreme Court has used to interpret provisions of the Constitution. This ninth essay provides an overview of the Constitutional Avoidance Doctrine, which is a set of rules the Supreme Court has developed to guide federal court dispositions of cases that raise constitutional questions. Because the Constitutional Avoidance Doctrine informs how the Court is likely to resolve disputes involving the constitutionality of laws, understanding the Constitutional Avoidance Doctrine may assist Congress in its legislative activities. [...] The fundamental principle of the Constitutional Avoidance Doctrine is that federal courts should interpret the Constitution only when it is a 'strict necessity [hyperlink].' The reason for this is threefold: first, because the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, its interpretation has broad implications; second, an unelected Supreme Court exercising judicial review to countermand actions by an elected Congress or state legislatures is in tension with principles of democracy and majority-rule; and third, because the Supreme Court's authority depends, as a practical matter, on the Executive Branch enforcing and the people accepting its rulings, the Court must be careful not to squander public goodwill by issuing ill-considered opinions."

Report Number:
CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10719
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/
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