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Strict construction

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Strict construction means a restriction of judicial interpretation. In the United States the phrase is also commonly used more loosely as a term for conservativism among the judiciary.

Strict sense of the term

In its strict sense, strict construction requires a judge to apply the text as it is written and no farther, if the meaning of the text is clear. That is, judges should avoid drawing from a statute or constitution.[1]

For example, Justice Hugo Black argued that the First Amendment's that "Congress shall make no law," should be construed strictly: the term "no law," Black thought, admitted virtually no exceptions.


  1. The Judiciary: The Power of the Federal Judiciary, The Social Studies Help Center