Psychology's influence on constitutional interpretation - A comment on how to succeed

Thomas Grisso, Michael J. Saks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


When organized psychology files amicus briefs with the Supreme Court and other courts, it does so for a variety of reasons and seeks to advance a number of policy objectives. The thesis of this article is that pursuit of some of those objectives is improper and that their pursuit threatens to defeat other objectives. Psychology's expertise is not in constitutional analysis; it is in the study of human behavior. As a practical matter, to pretend to do the former is to weaken our effectiveness in describing the latter. In public interest cases, when acting as a true friend of the court, APA's obligation is to share with the court what empirical research and theory tell us about human behavior, and not to argue for any particular outcome of the case before the court.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-211
Number of pages7
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


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