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Full-Text Articles in Jurisprudence

The Lawless Adjudicator, Robin West Jan 2005

The Lawless Adjudicator, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

First, on the "lawless adjudicator." The question I want to pose is this: Why is it so hard for the legal academy - and the legal profession - to come to grips with the bare logic of the charge, much less the case, that Vere acted lawlessly, and therefore criminally, and indeed murderously, when he willfully distorted the governing law, so as to execute Billy? Why has this quite specific legal claim not received more of a hearing? Is it because Weisberg was not sufficiently considerate in his communication of this idea? On first blush that seems implausible: It is one thing ...


Toward Humanistic Theories Of Legal Justice, Robin West Jan 1998

Toward Humanistic Theories Of Legal Justice, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In an oft-quoted aside, Justice Holmes once remarked that when lawyers in his courtroom make appeal to justice, he stops listening: such appeals do nothing but signal that the lawyer has neither the facts nor law on his side, or worse, that he is ignorant of whatever law might be relevant.' Holmes's remark has not gone unheeded. Holmes's legacy, in part, is precisely this lapse: we don't have, or teach, a guiding theory of legal justice, nor do we have, or teach, a family of competing theories of legal justice, that might inform our work in law ...


Law And Fancy, Robin West Jan 1997

Law And Fancy, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Martha Nussbaum's graceful book Poetic Justice is an elegant brief for the importance of our capacity for imaginative "fancy" to our moral and legal lives. Imaginative fancy, Nussbaum argues, allows us to know the internal substance and quality of the lives of others. It allows us to come to appreciate, to understand, to share, and ultimately to resist others' suffering. It is, in short, the means by which we come to care about the fate and happiness of others. It is a part, but not the whole, of our capacity to transcend a narcissistic and infantile egoism. It is ...


Murdering The Spirit: Racism, Rights, And Commerce, Robin West Jan 1992

Murdering The Spirit: Racism, Rights, And Commerce, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Patricia Williams' The Alchemy of Race and Rights: The Diary of a Law Professor, is an eloquent, profoundly original, and often brilliant collection of interdisciplinary essays and stories concerning the impact of racism and poverty on the human spirit; the historic and continuing role of law and legal institutions in defining, facilitating, and perpetuating those harms; and the possibilities and dangers imminent in the attempt to use law to effect a remedy for them. This is a book that we should celebrate: it reminds us that books are occasionally very, very important, that reading can be transformative, and that writing ...


Law, Literature, And The Celebration Of Authority, Robin West Jan 1989

Law, Literature, And The Celebration Of Authority, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Richard Posner's new book, Law and Literature: A Misunderstood Relation, is a defense of “liberal legalism” against a group of modern critics who have only one thing in common: their use of either particular pieces of literature or literary theory to mount legal critiques. Perhaps for that reason, it is very hard to discern a unified thesis within Posner's book regarding the relationship between law and literature. In part, Posner is complaining about a pollution of literature by its use and abuse in political and legal argument; thus, the “misunderstood relation” to which the title refers. At times ...


Adjudication Is Not Interpretation: Some Reservations About The Law-As-Literature Movement, Robin West Jan 1987

Adjudication Is Not Interpretation: Some Reservations About The Law-As-Literature Movement, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Among other achievements, the modern law-as-literature movement has prompted increasing numbers of legal scholars to embrace the claim that adjudication is interpretation, and more specifically, that constitutional adjudication is interpretation of the Constitution. That adjudication is interpretation -- that an adjudicative act is an interpretive act -- more than any other central commitment, unifies the otherwise diverse strands of the legal and constitutional theory of the late twentieth century.

In this article, I will argue in this article against both modern forms of interpretivism. The analogue of law to literature, on which much of modern interpretivism is based, although fruitful, has carried ...