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Columbia Law School

Daedalus

Legal History

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(Anti)Canonizing Courts, Jamal Greene Jan 2014

(Anti)Canonizing Courts, Jamal Greene

Faculty Scholarship

Within U.S. constitutional culture, courts stand curiously apart from the society in which they sit. Among the many purposes this process of alienation serves is to “neutralize” the cognitive dissonance produced by Americans’ current self-conception and the role our forebears’ social and political culture played in producing historic injustice. The legal culture establishes such dissonance in part by structuring American constitutional argument around anticanonical cases: most especially “Dred Scott v. Sandford,” “Plessy v. Ferguson,” and “Lochner v. New York.” The widely held view that these decisions were “wrong the day they were decided” emphasizes the role of independent courts ...