Judicial Opinions Reimagined: Engendering a Language of Justice
Legal Communication & Rhetoric:JALWD, 2018
7 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2019
Date Written: June 22, 2018
What separates the language of law from the language of justice? Where do we see the language of justice in the form and framing of law, and in law’s substance? Can judicial opinions — as a genre, as a form of public discourse — contribute to law’s capacity to avoid legal formalism and instead achieve justice? If existing judicial opinions could be reimagined and revised to incorporate theoretical perspectives and methods associated with feminism, what impact would such a reworking have on the trajectory of legal doctrine and the prospects for reaching just outcomes?
Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court (Kathryn M. Stanchi, Linda L. Berger, Bridget J. Crawford, eds. 2016) offers revelatory responses to these questions. Reconstructing U.S. Supreme Court opinions from a range of feminist perspectives, this coedited volume drew inspiration from the groundbreaking Feminist Judgments projects launched in Canada and the United Kingdom, and adds to a growing body of work flourishing in Ireland and Australia. A hallmark of the U.S. project is its pluralist understanding of feminism and the theoretical frameworks, analytic methods, and rhetorics feminism embraces. As the editors recognize, feminism is a justice-seeking political movement but also a philosophical undertaking, a way of seeing and processing human experience. Applied to law and to drafting the distinctive genre of the judicial opinion, the book’s inclusive orientation highlights the multiple ways in which feminism has advanced women’s equality, and how it could further serve that purpose and broader social- justice struggles.
Keywords: judicial rhetoric, feminist legal theory, feminist method, judicial opinion writing, legal pedagogy
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