Judicial Fictions: Images of Supreme Court Justices in the Novel, Drama, and Film

53 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2011

See all articles by Laura Ray

Laura Ray

Widener University - Delaware Law School

Date Written: 1997


In the past fifty years, the Supreme Court, traditionally a remote and mysterious institution known for working largely out of the public eye, has become the subject of a growing body of popular literature. Diverse works, including novels, plays, and films, have focused on the figure of the Supreme Court Justice. The first of these works, the play The Magnificent Yankee, lionized Oliver Wendell Holmes as a distinguished jurist and a devoted husband. Later political novels offered a broad range of Justices, some heroic in pursuit of justice, others deeply flawed and even villainous in their professional conduct. In the wake of The Brethren's bestselling insider account of judicial conflicts, a line of mystery and suspense novels has used the Court as a setting for melodramatic plots involving murder and betrayal. Hollywood has also tapped the figure of the Justice for such diverse genres as romantic comedy and murder mystery. Although most of these works have presented Justices as far less admirable than Holmes, almost all of them have distinguished between the flawed individuals and the Court itself, which usually emerges unscathed as an institution deserving the nation's best men and women for its bench.

Keywords: Supreme Court, fiction, movies, literature, films, justices, judges, novels

JEL Classification: K1

Suggested Citation

Ray, Laura, Judicial Fictions: Images of Supreme Court Justices in the Novel, Drama, and Film (1997). Arizona Law Review, Vol. 39, p. 151, 1997. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1967683

Laura Ray (Contact Author)

Widener University - Delaware Law School ( email )

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803-0406
United States

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