Friday, July 08, 2005

Expert Opinion and Constitutional Adjudication Revisited

We have wondered aloud before about the role of expert judgment in constitutional adjudication. Whatever one's views on that subject, or on "partial birth abortion," today's opinion in Carhart v. Gonzalez, No. 04-3779 (8th Cir. July 8, 2005), contains a sustained and thoughtful analysis of issues surrounding the topic.


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Fed. R. Evid. 702: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.