Hiding with Words: Obfuscation, Avoidance, and Federal Jurisdiction Opinions

UCLA Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 1, 1998

86 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 1999 Last revised: 26 Nov 2008

See all articles by Laura E. Little

Laura E. Little

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Abstract

This article summarizes Professor Little's empirical study of linguistic devices appearing in the holdings of United States Supreme Court opinions. The linguistic devices scrutinized are those likely to obfuscate the meaning of communication. Comparing the holdings of federal jurisdiction opinions with those of "merits" decisions, Professor Little found that more obfuscatory devides appeared in the federal jurisdiction decisions. This finding supports federal jurisdiction scholars' view that Supreme Court Justices take license with jurisdiction rulings in order to disguise decisions on the merits of disputes, control the development of constitutional rights, or avoid difficult legal issues.

Suggested Citation

Little, Laura E., Hiding with Words: Obfuscation, Avoidance, and Federal Jurisdiction Opinions. UCLA Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 1, 1998. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=149075

Laura E. Little (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
215-204-8955 (Phone)
215-204-1185 (Fax)

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