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Passage Set #2 on 8-86

LSAT Novice
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2017 5:13 pm
Points: 4

This is a question about the comparative reading passage concerning interpretation of the constitution as a strict literalism or a living document. I thought I understood it really well but then got question 5 and 6 wrong. Why is 5 E and not B? I thought Passage B would say that strict constitutions don't ALWAYS believe it should be interpreted literally because of line 45-50. Also why is 6 A? To be, passage B was much less partisan and negative than passage A. If someone could please help me that would be greatly appreciated :)
Jonathan Evans
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
Posts: 571
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:12 pm
Points: 458
Location: DFW, Texas

Hi, SBlum,

Good questions! As on many comparative reading passages, one key skill is to evaluate and identify the shared topic of both passages and then to describe the extent to which they overlap or differ from each other, in tone, scope, or viewpoints. For these two passages, you appear to have a reasonably good grasp of the subject matter, but let's drill down on the main points of each:

  1. Subject of this passage is debate over proper approach to jurisprudence; 1st ¶ gives background; 2nd ¶ is a description of the "constructivist" approach; 3rd ¶ is a description of the "interpretivist" approach; ll 31-36 suggest that the author is generally more inclined towards the "interpretivist" approach.
  2. Subject of this passage is debate over proper approach to jurisprudence; 1st ¶ gives background; 2nd ¶ argues in favor of "constructivist" approach; 3rd ¶ argues against "interpretivist"/"activist" approach; author clearly favors constructivist approach, considers interpretivists activist judges in a pejorative sense.

Let's consider both your questions. For question 5, answer choice (B), in ll 46-52, the author of Passage B clearly indicates that constructivist judges need not interpret the constitution literally ("no one would argue..."); instead constructivists focus on intent. Thus, while there is some evidence the author of Passage A would agree with this statement (l 17), the evidence in Passage B points in the other direction.

For answer choice (E), note ll 55 and 61 in which "activist judges" make decisions "under the guise of interpretation" and characterize "such moves as interpretation." This evidence suggests that such "activist judges" do not consider themselves activist judges. In Passage A, ll 29-20 give direct evidence that these judges consider themselves "interpreters, not activists." Therefore there is direct evidence to support answer choice (E).

For question 6, asked about how the tone of Passage A differs from that of Passage B, note in our description above that while the author of Passage A shows an implicit preference for interpretive philosophy, her preferences are not as overtly articulated as the preferences of the author of Passage B. Insofar as Passage B is more polemical in its approach, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that B is more "partisan." Therefore, we have sufficient evidence to support answer choice (A).

One challenge of comp-reading is the extent to which such passages do not forgive lack of clarity about the main points of both passages and the relationships between the themes of these passages. It is prudent to make sure that you have adequate understanding of the main points of these passages.

Please follow up with further questions. I hope this helps!