On Darkness and Light in Legal Imagination and Practice: A Foreword to the Dark Sides of the Law

The Dark Sides of the Law: Perspectives on Law, Literature, and Justice in Common Law Countries, Geraldine Gadbin-George, Yvonne-Marie Rogez, Armelle Sabatier & Claire Wrobel (editors), Paris: Editions, Michel Houdiard, 2019, Forthcoming

Yale Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 649

30 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2018

Date Written: September 11, 2018

Abstract

This Foreword, building on the book Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms by Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis, explores the social constructions of “darkness” and of “lightness.” One illustration comes from how darkness has been valorized as well as bemoaned in the iconography of courthouses. While once the Virtue Justice was insistently displayed as clear-eyed, that figure’s eyes are now often obscured by a blindfold. When blindfolds were attached to Justice figures in the Renaissance, that deployment was derisive. Today, the blindfold is celebrated as an appropriate marker of the special role of a judge. The shifting import of the darkness imposed by blindfolds reflects changing ideas about the relationship of judges to the sovereignties that employ them and about the impact of sight on knowledge. The Foreword maps these changes before turning to the use of glass in building design. As the images reproduced make plain, glass facades ought not to be confused with phenomenal transparency. Glaring light, as well as darkness, can make exercises of authority unobservable.

Keywords: representation, transparency, blindfold, adjudication, judging in democracies, role of courts, courthouse imagery

Suggested Citation

Resnik, Judith, On Darkness and Light in Legal Imagination and Practice: A Foreword to the Dark Sides of the Law (September 11, 2018). The Dark Sides of the Law: Perspectives on Law, Literature, and Justice in Common Law Countries, Geraldine Gadbin-George, Yvonne-Marie Rogez, Armelle Sabatier & Claire Wrobel (editors), Paris: Editions, Michel Houdiard, 2019, Forthcoming; Yale Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 649. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3247748

Judith Resnik (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
203-432-1447 (Phone)
203-432-1719 (Fax)

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