Constitutional Law as Fiction: Narrative in the Rhetoric of Authority

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Overview

The fundamental thesis of Constitutional Law as Fiction is that in writing the opinion that explains a judgment, a judge not only analyzes and organizes precedent and makes and defends policy or value judgments, but he or she also tells a story, much as a historian does.

Like a history, this story has the appearance of simple truth, but, in fact, of necessity, it is a "fiction" as well—not in the sense of a lie or fairy tale, but in the sense of a constructed meaning. Strangely enough, these fictions persuade those who read them and those who write them, and without this persuasion, the law would lose much of its authority. L. H. LaRue examines several critical Supreme Court cases, including Everson v. Board of Education and Marbury v. Madison, and specifically examines the rhetorical techniques of Chief Justice John Marshall.

In analyzing the construction of meaning in the rhetoric of the law, LaRue ultimately contends that judges must not abandon the "fictions" in their judgments; they must strive to improve them.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271014074
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 3/14/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

L. H. LaRue is Class of 1958 Alumni Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University. He is the author of A Student's Guide to the Study of Law: An Introduction (1987) and Political Discourse: A Case Study of the Watergate Affair (1988) and co-editor (with Wythe Holt) of Rewriting the History of the Judiciary Act of 1787 by Wilfred J. Ritz (1990).

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
1 Telling Stories 8
2 The Story of Limits 42
3 The Story of Growth 70
4 The Story of Equality 93
5 What Stories Should We Tell? 121
Index 155
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