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Justice and Injustice in Law and Legal Theory

Austin Sarat and Thomas R. Kearns, Editors

Publication Year: 1996

Running through the history of jurisprudence and legal theory is a recurring concern about the connections between law and justice and about the ways law is implicated in injustice. In earlier times law and justice were viewed as virtually synonymous. Experience, however, has taught us that, in fact, injustice may be supported by law. Nonetheless, the belief remains that justice is the special concern of law. Commentators from Plato to Derrida have called law to account in the name of justice, asked that law provide a language of justice, and demanded that it promote the attainment of justice. The justice that is usually spoken about in these commentaries is elusive, if not illusory, and disconnected from the embodied practice of law. Furthermore, the very meaning of justice, especially as it relates to law, is in dispute. Justice may refer to distributional issues or it may involve primarily procedural questions, impartiality in judgment or punishment and recompense. The essays collected in Justice and Injustice in Law and Legal Theory seek to remedy this uncertainty about the meaning of justice and its disembodied quality, by embedding inquiry about justice in an examination of law's daily practices, its institutional arrangements, and its engagement with particular issues at particular moments in time. The essays examine the relationship between law and justice and injustice in specific issues and practices and, in doing so, make the question of justice come alive as a concrete political question. They draw on the disciplines of history, law, anthropology, and political science. Contributors to this volume include Nancy Coot, Joshua Coven, Robert Gorton, Frank Michelin, and Michael Tossing. Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst College. Thomas R. Kearns is William H. Hastie Professor of Philosophy, Amherst College.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Legal Justice and Injustice: Toward a Situated Perspective

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pp. 1-18

Running throughout the history of jurisprudence and legal theory is a recurring concern about the connections between law and justice and about the ways law is implicated in injustice. Commentators from Plato1 to Derrida2 have called law to account in the name of justice, asked that law provide a language of justice, and demanded that it promote, insofar as possible, the attainment of a just society...

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The Injustice of Policing: Prehistory and Rectitude

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pp. 19-34

This chapter concerns policing democracy, and if I appear to draw excessively on fantasies, images, and exotic worlds of violence and transformation, it is not because I want to downplay the awesome solidity of the police, but because it is there, in the fantasies, that I discern a more pressing need for thinking on this matter-in a sort of spin-off of what the novelist J. M. Coetzee...

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Undoing Historical Injustice

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pp. 35-76

My subject in this chapter is that of legal responses of liberal polities to epochal injustices. A regime comes to power--whether by conquest and occupation, by violent revolution, or by peaceful transition does not matter for the present--in a society whose previous rulers and people have practiced or permitted what the new regime judges to have been gross, systemic injustices...

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Justice for All? Marriage and Deprivation of Citizenship in the United States

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pp. 77-98

In 1924 Mary K., an American-born woman descended from seventeenth-century English colonists, married a man who was, she and he both believed, also an American citizen. He was Taraknath Das, a native of India, a Hindu who had received a certificate of naturalization from a u.s. court in 1914 after eight years of American residence. Shortly after the marriage, however, Mr. Das's naturalization...

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Freedom, Equality, Pornography

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pp. 99-138

According to Andrea Dworkin, "The left--ever visionary-continues to caretake the pornography industry, making the whole wide world--street, workplace, supermarket-repellent to women."1 Dworkin is right that many people who locate themselves on the political Left oppose restrictive pornography regulations.2 Her explanation of this opposition is uncertain...

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Judicial Supremacy, the Concept of Law, and the Sanctity of Life

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pp. 139-164

In the United States, where a written constitution and bill of rights have the force of law, we take for granted that judges of law will sometimes rule upon the legal validity of legislative and executive acts of government. The U.S. Constitution, as law, certainly outranks all other domestic legal material; that is the point of having the kind of constitution we have. It easily follows that when one party to a litigated dispute...

Contributors

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pp. 165-166

Index

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pp. 167-173


E-ISBN-13: 9780472023684
E-ISBN-10: 0472023683
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472066254
Print-ISBN-10: 0472066250

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 1996

Series Title: Amherst Series in Law, Jurisprudence, an

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Subject Headings

  • Law -- United States.
  • Law -- Philosophy.
  • Justice.
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