Judging Judges: Values and the Rule of Law. By Jason E. Whitehead. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014. 253 pp. $49.95 cloth.

Date01 December 2015
Published date01 December 2015
offices. The street matters both because it tells us what law is in ways
that cannot be grasped by looking at high courts alone. And, it also
holds out the promise of progressive social change that was the hall-
mark of the scholarship of Joseph Gusfield, Murray Edelman, and
Jacobus tenBroek. I would like to see more on visual sociology of
law; but in this framework, the visual would have to become a con-
cern of editors of “the Review.”
The editing is quite severe. Something like constitutional law
teachers feel the need to do for their undergraduates. This makes
the collection accessible to student readers in the sense that the
works are not too long. But it also deprives them of the challenge of
slogging through the scholarship that grounds their enterprise. In
the final analysis, the collection is very tight and will be a big help in
situating the field for scholars newly interested in law.
Judging Judges: Values and the Rule of Law. By Jason E. Whitehead.
Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014. 253 pp. $49.95 cloth.
Reviewed by Cornell W. Clayton, Department of Politics, Philosophy
and Public Affairs, Washington State University
The rule of law has fallen on hard times. Today political scientists
and legal scholars often deride the notion that law can constrain
judges as a na
ıve mythology. Supreme Court justices are character-
ized as voting in “liberal” or “conservative” blocs, as if political ideol-
ogy alone determines how they decide cases. In Judging Judges,
Jason Whitehead seeks to rescue the idea of the rule of law from
academic critics and to revitalize it for a post-Realist era.
The faith in the rule of law began unraveling as a result of two
academic movements in the twentieth century. First, the Legal Real-
ists bunked formal, mechanistic conceptions of judging and demon-
strated instead how law and politics were deeply interwoven in the
judicial mind. Then came along positivist social scientists who endeav-
ored to use judicial voting data to show judges decided cases on the
basis of ideological preferences rather than objective legal principles.
Coming to terms with these twin movements is not easy. Judges,
even those who accept that law requires political choices, reject the
idea that they decide cases on the basis of personal preferences and
they insist that law matters. Academic critics insist the evidence is to
the contrary, that such thinking is either self-delusion or deceitful.
Book Reviews 1025

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