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The Supreme Court and Gender-Neutral Language: Splitting La Difference

27 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2013 Last revised: 21 Nov 2013

Judith D. Fischer

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

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.

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

Suggested Citation

Fischer, Judith D., The Supreme Court and Gender-Neutral Language: Splitting La Difference (2012). 33 Women’s Rights L. Rptr. 218 (2012); University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2013-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2344983

Judith D. Fischer (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States

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