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Fall 2024 Reading Group

Judicial Opinions

Prerequisite: None

Exam Type: No Exam

This reading group will explore the genre of the judicial opinion. What makes a judicial opinion good, successful, or historic? What goals do judicial authors have in mind, and who are their audiences? To what extent should judges focus on reason to the exclusion of rhetoric? And how, if at all, can judicial opinions be exclusionary or inclusive with respect to, for example, gender, race, and class? Topics to be discussed include prophetic dissents, uses of technical or colloquial language, and personal invective. We will also consider influences on judicial opinion-writing, such as considerations of precedent, the allure of judicial celebrity, and the role of law clerks. Finally, we will consider the effects of technological change, as judges take advantage of print publication, searchable databases, and artificial intelligence.

Note: This reading group will meet on the following dates: TBD.