Beginning in the late 1970s, interpretation became a focal point of legal studies. In large part, this fascination with interpretation was prompted by the interpretive turn associated with the writings of Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900–2002), Richard Rorty, Clifford Geertz, and Jacques Derrida (1930–2004). The interpretive turn was itself prompted by the recognition that culture and human action could be—or more strongly, had to be—read as texts. In accordance with this insight, the methods and approaches of literary criticism became relevant to the humanities, to the social sciences generally, and eventually to legal studies.

In the United States, this interest in legal interpretation was also prompted by a more parochial, though no less important, source: the fascination of U.S. legal academics with the question of judicial review ...

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