Reason Worship, a Review of Edward Lazarus, 'Closed Chambers: The First Eyewitness Account of the Epic Struggles Inside the Supreme Court'
Temple University - Beasley School of Law
Jurist, May 1998
Edward Lazarus’ main point and complaint in his book Closed Chambers (1998), reviewed in this short essay, is that the justices have allowed politics to enter the temple, improperly destroying the 'natural bounds' between law and politics. Almost all the justices over the last several decades are implicated, although his harshest criticism is reserved for the conservatives who now dominate the Court (whose politics and decisions I also generally oppose). Focusing mainly on abortion, the death penalty, and race, he collects the sins of erroneous or false reasoning: 'Stare decisis is passionately invoked in one case, blithely discarded in the next. Avowed originalists conveniently forsake originalism; textualists forsake text.' Reasoning is used selectively rather than consistently, and 'subjective, value-laden, inescapably political judgments' abound, even by those who purport most strongly to be driven by reason and law. The central problem for Lazarus and this book - and for this dominant mode of legal scholarship - is to document the norm, compared to which the injection of politics can be described as a deviation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 3
Keywords: law and politics, conservative, legal reasoning, decision-makingAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 7, 2009
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