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-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spotlight on New Titles--A First Amendment Profile of the Supreme Court


John Cabot University Press has recently published A First Amendment Profile of the Supreme Court, (edited by Craig R. Smith), which is now on the O’Quinn Law Library’s new titles shelf (KF8742.F567 2011).  The nine chapters which comprise the heart of the book were written by different “budding and brilliant” young scholars.  Each chapter focuses on how the individual justices arrive at his or her position in First Amendment cases.  Throughout the book, the rhetoric of Supreme Court opinions is important.  The authors do not simply analyze the justices’ lines of argument, they look at the broader rhetorical strategies employed by the justices when rationalizing and making their decisions.  Each chapter has the same basic format:  A profile of the justice is developed based on what he or she said during hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the positions he or she has since adopted in important Supreme Court cases.  These profiles are then analyzed in terms of Philip Bobbitt’s six “modalities” of argument:  historical, textual, structural, doctrinal, ethical, and prudential.  A concluding table sets out which modalities each justice uses for the foundation or support in making their arguments.  An index of the major Supreme Court cases cited in the book rounds out the volume.

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