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Georgetown University Law Center

Constitutional theory

Legal History

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J. Skelly Wright And The Limits Of Liberalism, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2014

J. Skelly Wright And The Limits Of Liberalism, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This essay, written for a symposium on the life and work of United States Court of Appeals Judge J. Skelly Wright, makes four points. First, Judge Wright was an important participant in the liberal legal tradition. The tradition sought to liberate law from arid formalism and to use it as a technique for progressive reform. However, legal liberals also believed that there were limits on what judges could do–-limits rooted in both its liberalism and its legalism. Second, Wright occupied a position on the left fringe of the liberal legal tradition, and he therefore devoted much of his career ...