Must Feminist Judges Self-Identify as Feminist?
GENDER AND JUDGING, Ulrike Schultz and Gisela Shaw, eds. Hart Publishing, Forthcoming
18 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2009 Last revised: 29 Apr 2015
Date Written: August 3, 2009
Feminist legal scholars want judges to self-identify as feminist. Rosemary Hunter offers a compelling argument about the significance of self-identification as the marker of a feminist judge. However, few judges are willing to self-identify as feminists. Feminist adjudication offers an alternative theory. It serves three functions not met by feminist self-identification. First, it distinguishes the professional culture of feminist judges from that of feminist legal scholars, a distinction borne out in a study comparing the use of the 'f' word on the bench and in the academy. Second, it positions feminist judges to intervene in the contemporary feminist legal theory debate between dominance feminists who self-identify and postmodern feminists who disavow their approach. Third, it invites feminist legal scholars to recognize the power dimension inherent in their relationship with the feminist judges whom they study. I conclude it is premature for feminist legal scholars to rely only on the theory of feminist self-identification to credential feminist judges.
Keywords: Judges, gender, feminism
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