The Supreme Court and Gender-Neutral Language: Splitting La Difference
Judith D. Fischer
University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
33 Women’s Rights L. Rptr. 218 (2012)
University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2013-14
Following the first term with three women on the United States Supreme Court, this article analyzes the extent to which the justices used gender-neutral language. The article presents background about the meaning, history, and importance of gender-neutral language. It then examines both biased and gender-neutral phrasing in the justices’ opinions for the 2010 term. It concludes that some justices, with Justice Ginsburg in the forefront, frequently use gender-neutral language, others use it some of the time, and still others, especially Justice Scalia, seldom use it. The article presents unobtrusive ways to avoid biased language and suggests that the justices, as leaders in the legal profession, could easily apply them.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: legal writing, gender, language, linquistics, equality, women's rights, Supreme Court, gender-biased language, gender-neutral language, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Antonin Scalia
JEL Classification: K00, K4
Date posted: October 26, 2013 ; Last revised: November 21, 2013
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