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A Definition of Strict Constructionism


Definition: Strict construction is a legal term typically applied to a form of exacting judicial interpretation. The term is sometimes misidentified as "strict constructivism." The practice of strict constructionism requires a judge to apply the text of the law in a formalist way -- only as it is written. This means a judge or panel of judges must first obtain a clear meaning of the text. Once the text of a law is interpreted clearly, there is no need to draw further inferences from statutes of the law.

Strict constructionism belongs to a family of judicial interpretation theories known as "originalism." Employing strict constructionism is one way for conservative judges to practice judicial restraint.
Pronunciation: strikt kunstrukshinizim
Also Known As: judicial conservatism, originalism, textualism
Alternate Spellings: strict constructionist, strict construction
Common Misspellings: strict constructivism
When President George W. Bush campaigned for president, he promised to nominate "strict constructionists in the mold of Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas."

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