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Judging Judges
Values and the Rule of Law

By Jason E. Whitehead

Judging Judges
Hardback, 253 pages $49.95
Published: 1st December 2014
ISBN: 9781602585256
Format: 9in x 6in

Subjects: All Ethics , Law & Religion

The “rule of law” stands at the heart of the American legal system. But the rule of law does not require judges slavishly to follow the letter of the law, unaffected by political or social influences. Because following the rule of law absolutely is impossible, it is dismissed by the public as a myth and judges are vilified.

Judging Judges refocuses and elevates the debate over judges and the rule of law by showing that personal and professional values matter. Jason E. Whitehead demonstrates that the rule of law depends on a socially constructed attitude of legal obligation that spawns objective rules. Intensive interviews of judges reveal the value systems that uphold or undermine the attitude of legal obligation so central to the rule of law. This focus on the social practices undergirding these value systems demonstrates that the rule of law is ultimately a matter of social trust rather than textual constraints. Whitehead’s unique combination of philosophical and empirical investigation is a major advance because it moves beyond the dichotomy of law or politics and shows that the rule of law is a shared social enterprise involving all of society—judges, politicians, scholars, and ordinary citizens alike. Judging Judges’ attention to judicial values establishes judges’ true worth in a liberal democracy.

Introduction: The Battle Over Judges and the Rule of Law      

1.         Values and the Rule of Law from the Inside Out          

2.         Judges and Formalist Values     

3.         Judges and Good-Faith Values  

4.         Judges and Cynical Values        

5.         Judges and Rogue Values          

Conclusion: Changing How We Judge the Judges

"Whitehead’s Judging Judges brings together those testy siblings, law and politics, in an insightful treatment of the core issues in law. It is passionate and careful, learned and savvy, and often very clever. Judging Judges is an accessible treatment of legal thinking that puts real people in the jurisprudential equation along with judges and lawyers."

—John Brigham, Professor, Political Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

“This is a must read book for those interested in the normative dimensions of the rule of law as well as those who wish to move beyond the stale debates between ‘attitudinalists’ and ‘legalists' in the study of judicial behavior.”

—Cornell W. Clayton, Law & Society Review

"Whitehead seeks to better define how judges sustain the rule of law, and to counter the suspicion that the only distinction between good and bad judging is the preference for a particular outcome...His discussion of judicial values would be a good supplement in undergraduate courses on judicial process, constitutional law, or legal reasoning."

—Keith J. Bybee, Law and Politics Book Review

"A well-honed exploration of a thorny and complex issue marked by rigor in analysis"

—Justice Gilles Renaud, Canadian Law Library Review

“Jason Whitehead offers a nuanced analysis of the constraints that are imposed by the judicial role and the relatively limited range of choices that are open to judges when they interpret the law. This book is a tour de force and a model of scholarship. It can be read profitably by judges, legal theorists, and political scientists, indeed by anyone who is intrigued by the complexity hidden in the seemingly simple question, ‘What does it mean to apply rules?’”

—Malcolm M. Feeley, Claire Sanders Clements Dean’s Professor, Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley 

“Whitehead uses extensive interviews with appellate judges to delineate the ways that judges think about their task of interpreting the law. In doing so, he provides us with new insights and valuable evidence about the role of legal considerations in judicial decision-making.”

—Lawrence Baum, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Ohio State University

"Highly interesting work"

—M.W. Bowers, University of Nevada, Choice

Jason E. Whitehead is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Legal Studies Program at California State University, Long Beach.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 253 pages
 9in x 6in

  LAW111000, POL000000, POL040030, REL028000
 Baylor University Press

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