Minding the Law / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$30.34
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $20.75
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 34%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (5) from $20.75   
  • New (3) from $32.93   
  • Used (2) from $20.75   

Overview

In this remarkable collaboration, one of the nation's leading civil rights lawyers joins forces with one of the world's foremost cultural psychologists to put American constitutional law into an American cultural context. By close readings of key Supreme Court opinions, they show how storytelling tactics and deeply rooted mythic structures shape the Court's decisions about race, family law, and the death penalty.

Minding the Law explores crucial psychological processes involved in the work of lawyers and judges: deciding whether particular cases fit within a legal rule ("categorizing"), telling stories to justify one's claims or undercut those of an adversary ("narrative"), and tailoring one's language to be persuasive without appearing partisan ("rhetorics"). Because these processes are not unique to the law, courts' decisions cannot rest solely upon legal logic but must also depend vitally upon the underlying culture's storehouse of familiar tales of heroes and villains.

But a culture's stock of stories is not changeless.

Amsterdam and Bruner argue that culture itself is a dialectic constantly in progress, a conflict between the established canon and newly imagined "possible worlds." They illustrate the swings of this dialectic by a masterly analysis of the Supreme Court's race-discrimination decisions during the past century.

A passionate plea for heightened consciousness about the way law is practiced and made, Minding the Law will be welcomed by a new generation concerned with renewing law's commitment to a humane justice.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Lingua Franca

Amsterdam, a distinguished Supreme Court litigator, wanted to do more than share the fruits of his practical experience. He also wanted to...get students to think about thinking like a lawyer...To decode what he calls "law-think," he enlisted the aid of the venerable cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner...[and] the collaboration has resulted in [this] unusual book.
— James Ryerson

Los Angeles Times Book Review

It is hard to imagine a better time for the publication of Minding the Law, a brilliant dissection of the court's work by two eminent scholars, law professor Anthony G. Amsterdam and cultural anthropologist Jerome Bruner...Issue by issue, case by case, Amsterdam and Bruner make mincemeat of the court's handling of the most important constitutional issue of the modern era: how to eradicate the American legacy of race discrimination, especially against blacks.
— Edward Lazarus

New York Law Journal

This book is a gem...[Its thesis] is easily stated but remarkably unrecognized among a shockingly large number of lawyers and law professors: law is a storytelling enterprise thoroughly entrenched in culture....Whereas critical legal theorists have talked among themselves for the past two decades, Amsterdam and Bruner seek to engage all of us in a dialogue. For that, they should be applauded.
— Daniel R. Williams

Washington Times

What do controversial Supreme Court decisions and classic age-old tales of adultery, villainy, and combat have in common? Everything—at least in the eyes of [Amsterdam and Bruner]. In this substantial study, which is equal parts dense and entertaining, the authors use theoretical discussions of literary technique and myths to expose what they see as the secret intentions of Supreme Court opinions...Studying how lawyers and judges employ the various literary devices at their disposal and noting the similarities between legal thinking and classic tactics of storytelling and persuasion, they believe, can have 'astonishing consciousness-retrieving effects'...The agile minds of Amsterdam and Bruner, clearly storehouses of knowledge on a range of subjects, allow an approach that might sound far-fetched occasionally but pays dividends in the form of gained perspective—and amusement.
— Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn

New York Times

Stories and the way judges-intentionally or not-categorize and spin them, are as responsible for legal rulings as logic and precedent, Mr. Amsterdam and Mr. Bruner said. Their novel attempt to reach into the psyche of...members of the Supreme Court is part of a growing interest in a long-neglected and cryptic subject: the psychology of judicial decision-making.
— Patricia Cohen

The Federal Lawyer
In Minding the Law, lawyer Anthony Amsterdam and psychologist Jerome Bruner teach us how to read judicial opinions to see what the judges who wrote them did not see themselves…They have tried to expose the ways in which Supreme Court justices erect screens that "are often tissues of denial–denial that there is a problem, denial that the problem could be fixed if there were a problem, denial of judicial responsibility to fix the problem if it could be fixed.
Sanford Levinson
Most law professors teach by the 'case method,' or say they do. In this fascinating book, Anthony Amsterdam--a lawyer--and Jerome Bruner--a psychologist--expose how limited most case 'analysis' really is, as they show how much can be learned through the close reading of the phrases, sentences, and paragraphs that constitute an opinion (or other pieces of legal writing). Reading this book will undoubtedly make one a better lawyer, and teacher of lawyers. But the book's value and interest goes far beyond the legal profession, as it analyzes the way that rhetoric--in law, politics, and beyond--creates pictures and convictions in the minds of readers and listeners.
Jack Greenberg
Tony Amsterdam, the leader in the legal campaign against the death penalty, and Jerome Bruner, who has struggled for equal justice in education for forty years, have written a guide to demystifying legal reasoning. With clarity, wit, and immense learning, they reveal the semantic tricks lawyers and judges sometimes use--consciously and unconsciously--to justify the results they want to reach.
Lingua Franca - James Ryerson
Amsterdam, a distinguished Supreme Court litigator, wanted to do more than share the fruits of his practical experience. He also wanted to...get students to think about thinking like a lawyer...To decode what he calls "law-think," he enlisted the aid of the venerable cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner...[and] the collaboration has resulted in [this] unusual book.
Los Angeles Times Book Review - Edward Lazarus
It is hard to imagine a better time for the publication of Minding the Law, a brilliant dissection of the court's work by two eminent scholars, law professor Anthony G. Amsterdam and cultural anthropologist Jerome Bruner...Issue by issue, case by case, Amsterdam and Bruner make mincemeat of the court's handling of the most important constitutional issue of the modern era: how to eradicate the American legacy of race discrimination, especially against blacks.
New York Law Journal - Daniel R. Williams
This book is a gem...[Its thesis] is easily stated but remarkably unrecognized among a shockingly large number of lawyers and law professors: law is a storytelling enterprise thoroughly entrenched in culture....Whereas critical legal theorists have talked among themselves for the past two decades, Amsterdam and Bruner seek to engage all of us in a dialogue. For that, they should be applauded.
News and Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina) - Mitchell Goodman
In Minding the Law, Anthony Amsterdam and Jerome Bruner show us how the Supreme Court creates the magic of inevitability. They are angry at what they see. Their book is premised on the conviction that many of the choices made in Supreme Court opinions 'lack any justification in the text'...Their method is to analyze the text of opinions and to show how the conclusions reached do not always follow from the logic of the argument. They also show how the Court casts its rhetoric like a spell, mesmerizing its audience, and making the highly contingent shine with the light of inevitability.
Washington Times - Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn
What do controversial Supreme Court decisions and classic age-old tales of adultery, villainy, and combat have in common? Everything--at least in the eyes of [Amsterdam and Bruner]. In this substantial study, which is equal parts dense and entertaining, the authors use theoretical discussions of literary technique and myths to expose what they see as the secret intentions of Supreme Court opinions...Studying how lawyers and judges employ the various literary devices at their disposal and noting the similarities between legal thinking and classic tactics of storytelling and persuasion, they believe, can have 'astonishing consciousness-retrieving effects'...The agile minds of Amsterdam and Bruner, clearly storehouses of knowledge on a range of subjects, allow an approach that might sound far-fetched occasionally but pays dividends in the form of gained perspective--and amusement.
New York Times - Patricia Cohen
Stories and the way judges-intentionally or not-categorize and spin them, are as responsible for legal rulings as logic and precedent, Mr. Amsterdam and Mr. Bruner said. Their novel attempt to reach into the psyche of...members of the Supreme Court is part of a growing interest in a long-neglected and cryptic subject: the psychology of judicial decision-making.
New York Times
Stories and the way judges-intentionally or not-categorize and spin them, are as responsible for legal rulings as logic and precedent, Mr. Amsterdam and Mr. Bruner said. Their novel attempt to reach into the psyche of...members of the Supreme Court is part of a growing interest in a long-neglected and cryptic subject: the psychology of judicial decision-making.
— Patricia Cohen
Lingua Franca
Amsterdam, a distinguished Supreme Court litigator, wanted to do more than share the fruits of his practical experience. He also wanted to...get students to think about thinking like a lawyer...To decode what he calls "law-think," he enlisted the aid of the venerable cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner...[and] the collaboration has resulted in [this] unusual book.
— James Ryerson
New York Law Journal
This book is a gem...[Its thesis] is easily stated but remarkably unrecognized among a shockingly large number of lawyers and law professors: law is a storytelling enterprise thoroughly entrenched in culture....Whereas critical legal theorists have talked among themselves for the past two decades, Amsterdam and Bruner seek to engage all of us in a dialogue. For that, they should be applauded.
— Daniel R. Williams
Washington Times
What do controversial Supreme Court decisions and classic age-old tales of adultery, villainy, and combat have in common? Everything--at least in the eyes of [Amsterdam and Bruner]. In this substantial study, which is equal parts dense and entertaining, the authors use theoretical discussions of literary technique and myths to expose what they see as the secret intentions of Supreme Court opinions...Studying how lawyers and judges employ the various literary devices at their disposal and noting the similarities between legal thinking and classic tactics of storytelling and persuasion, they believe, can have 'astonishing consciousness-retrieving effects'...The agile minds of Amsterdam and Bruner, clearly storehouses of knowledge on a range of subjects, allow an approach that might sound far-fetched occasionally but pays dividends in the form of gained perspective--and amusement.
— Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn
Los Angeles Times Book Review
It is hard to imagine a better time for the publication of Minding the Law, a brilliant dissection of the court's work by two eminent scholars, law professor Anthony G. Amsterdam and cultural anthropologist Jerome Bruner...Issue by issue, case by case, Amsterdam and Bruner make mincemeat of the court's handling of the most important constitutional issue of the modern era: how to eradicate the American legacy of race discrimination, especially against blacks.
— Edward Lazarus
The Federal Lawyer
In Minding the Law, lawyer Anthony Amsterdam and psychologist Jerome Bruner teach us how to read judicial opinions to see what the judges who wrote them did not see themselves…They have tried to expose the ways in which Supreme Court justices erect screens that "are often tissues of denial–denial that there is a problem, denial that the problem could be fixed if there were a problem, denial of judicial responsibility to fix the problem if it could be fixed.
North Carolina) News and Observer (Raleigh
In Minding the Law, Anthony Amsterdam and Jerome Bruner show us how the Supreme Court creates the magic of inevitability. They are angry at what they see. Their book is premised on the conviction that many of the choices made in Supreme Court opinions 'lack any justification in the text'...Their method is to analyze the text of opinions and to show how the conclusions reached do not always follow from the logic of the argument. They also show how the Court casts its rhetoric like a spell, mesmerizing its audience, and making the highly contingent shine with the light of inevitability.
— Mitchell Goodman
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674008168
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 468
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony G. Amsterdam is Judge Edward Weinfeld Professor of Law at New York University School of Law and has been a MacArthur Fellow.

Jerome Bruner is University Professor at New York University and the author of many books, including Acts of Meaning; On Knowing; The Process of Education; and Toward a Theory of Instruction (all published by Harvard).

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. Invitation to a Journey

2. On Categories

3. Categorizing at the Supreme Court Missouri v. Jenkins and Michael H. v. Gerald D.

4. On Narrative

5. Narratives at Court Prigg v. Pennsylvania and Freeman v. Pitts

6. On Rhetorics

7. The Rhetorics of Death McCleskey v. Kemp

8. On the Dialectic of Culture

9. Race, the Court, and America's Dialectic From Plessy through Brown to Pitts and Jenkins

10. Reflections on a Voyage

Appendix: Analysis of Nouns and Verbs in the Prigg, Pitts, and Brown Opinions

Notes

Table of Cases

Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)