A Caring Jurisprudence: Listening to Patients at the Supreme Court

A Caring Jurisprudence: Listening to Patients at the Supreme Court

by Susan M. Behuniak
     
 

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In deciding the abortion and physician assisted suicide cases, a majority of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court drew on medical knowledge to inform their opinions while dismissing the distinctively different knowledge offered by patients. Following the legal norms derived from the ethic of justice, the Court's deference toward the Ouniversal,O

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Overview

In deciding the abortion and physician assisted suicide cases, a majority of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court drew on medical knowledge to inform their opinions while dismissing the distinctively different knowledge offered by patients. Following the legal norms derived from the ethic of justice, the Court's deference toward the Ouniversal,O Oimpartial,O and 'reasoned' knowledge of the medical profession and its disregard of the Oparticular,O Oinvolved,O and 'emotional' knowledge of patients seemed inevitable as well as justified. But was it? This book argues that it is both possible and proper to develop a jurisprudence capable of incorporating the knowledge of patients. Drawing on feminist scholarship, this book proposes a model for a 'caring jurisprudence' that integrates the ethic of justice and the ethic of care to ensure that patientsO knowledge is included in judicial decision making.

Editorial Reviews

Golden Gate University Law Review
scholarly and articulate challenges to the traditional American legal system . . . an important addition to feminist legal scholarship, which could effectively serve as a suplementary text in any law school classroom where modern constitutional theory or feminist jurisprudence is taught. Beyond that, the book provides a methodology to support and encourage judges in finding better ways to temper justice with compassion by inviting personal stories and voices into the judicial process.
— Kim Harvey, Golden Gate University School of Law
CHOICE
Challenges the traditional notion that judicial decision making should be impartial, reasoned, and universally applied. . . . The model and the book are interesting and thought-provoking.
— M.W. Bowers
Political Studies
This timely and informative book presents a clear argument for reconstructing a legal system that speaks to patient's lives.
American Political Science Review
A Caring Jurisprudence is an exceptional study of how the medical, legal, and personal versions of cases are heard in the courts, and it demonstrates the predominance of medical and legal views over the personal views of patients in the judicial process...This book is not only methodologically sound but also is well written and has a practical application. Behuniak's model is adaptable to many other types of cases involving patients and medicine, and it is as applicable to cases that involve mental health issues as it is to those that involve physical health issues. A Caring Jurisprudence should be read not only by academics but also by practitioners, including judges and justices of the Court.
— Donna R. Kemp, California State University
Choice
Challenges the traditional notion that judicial decision making should be impartial, reasoned, and universally applied. . . . The model and the book are interesting and thought-provoking.
— M.W. Bowers, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Political Studies Review
This timely and informative book presents a clear argument for reconstructing a legal system that speaks to patient's lives.
Robin West
This careful, thoughtful, and moving account of the Supreme Court's privacy cases should be of great interest to scholars in all disciplines interested in the Court and of the ideals and practices that guide it. Behuniak's book is a plea to judges at all levels to listen empathically to patients' knowledge and to integrate that knowledge into a more caring jurisprudence. She convincingly traces the inhumane consequences, in our law and in our ideals for law, of their failure, to date, to do so.
Gayle Binion
Professor Behuniak has written a provocative book, challenging the nature of knowledge that is admissible in courts of law. Drawing on the case law governing abortion and the right to assisted suicide, and spoken in a clearly feminist voice, the author makes an effective argument for law to accept, indeed to welcome, the knowledge of the patient as evidence in litigation.
Alison M. Jaggar
Behuniak’s argument is original and persuasive. Her book is an important contribution to the emerging tradition of care thinking in the area of jurisprudence.
James M. Hoefler
Professor Behuniak has produced a cleanly written, methodically argued, and profoundly original analysis that challenges orthodox understandings of jurisprudence. Her investigation of why legal decision making should be tempered with an ethic of care and the plumbing of the consequences of a 'caring jurisprudence' for two crucial legal issues of our time—abortion and assisted suicide—are both inspired and inspiring. Her intriguing analysis should prove instructive in thinking about constitutional rights for years to come.
Joan C. Tronto
Sue Behuniak thoughtfully applies the developing feminist ethic of care to suggest a new approach to two important public policies, abortion and physician assisted suicide. She argues that these issues can not only be left to lawyers and doctors, but must also reflect the real knowledge of the people involved. Her perspective brings a key set of feminist ideas to bear on important public policy issues.
Judith A. Baer
Justice and care are easy to divide; but how do we unite them into a holistic jurisprudence? This is the complex and difficult task that Susan Behuniak sets herself in A Caring Jurisprudence. The questions she poses and the answers she reaches will engage the interests of feminist and legal scholars alike.
Golden Gate University Law Review - Kim Harvey
scholarly and articulate challenges to the traditional American legal system . . . an important addition to feminist legal scholarship, which could effectively serve as a suplementary text in any law school classroom where modern constitutional theory or feminist jurisprudence is taught. Beyond that, the book provides a methodology to support and encourage judges in finding better ways to temper justice with compassion by inviting personal stories and voices into the judicial process.
CHOICE - M.W. Bowers
Challenges the traditional notion that judicial decision making should be impartial, reasoned, and universally applied. . . . The model and the book are interesting and thought-provoking.
Alexandra Dundas Todd
"Behuniak's model for change is a progressive one, complementing restorative justice movements in the criminal justice system and a shift toward integrative medicines in health care. In all these arenas there is a call for the honoring of diverse voices. Integration and expansion rather than replacement is the goal—both/and rather than either/or is the approach. A Caring Jurisprudence is a valuable contribution to this trend.
American Political Science Review - Donna R. Kemp
A Caring Jurisprudence is an exceptional study of how the medical, legal, and personal versions of cases are heard in the courts, and it demonstrates the predominance of medical and legal views over the personal views of patients in the judicial process...This book is not only methodologically sound but also is well written and has a practical application. Behuniak's model is adaptable to many other types of cases involving patients and medicine, and it is as applicable to cases that involve mental health issues as it is to those that involve physical health issues. A Caring Jurisprudence should be read not only by academics but also by practitioners, including judges and justices of the Court.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780847694549
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
08/28/1999
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Susan M. Behuniak is professor of political science at Le Moyne College.

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