Table of contents(12 chapters)
This chapter demonstrates how Argentine law court sentences have constructed a “legal truth” regarding the unlawfully appropriated children of people “disappeared” during the last military dictatorship (1976–1983). There are two discursive processes involved in the construction of that truth. On one hand, the courts reinterpret the crime of “abduction of minors” to emphasize the damage done to families in the exercise of their rights, and on the other hand, they link illegal appropriation to the military government’s counterinsurgency policies. Lastly, in the construction of this “legal truth,” the sentences employ other discourses, particularly those of genealogy, psychoanalysis, and human rights.
The sociological and socio-legal literatures on social movements have identified three main types of “legal framing” in contemporary social movement discourse: collective rights framing, individual rights framing, and nationalistic legal framing. However, it is unclear from the current research how movement actors decide which of these framing strategies to use, under what circumstances, and to what effect. In this article, I offer a model for future empirical research on legal framing, which (1) distinguishes legal framing by its argumentative structure, ideological content, and remedy; and (2) analyzes how a social movement’s internal culture and institutional environment constrain the symbolic utility of particular legal frames and shape the movement’s legal framing strategy. I argue that the alternative approach offered here will help theorize how social movements strike a balance between the institutional pressure to reproduce dominant ideologies and the internal pressure to reform those ideologies. This perspective thus helps build socio-legal theory on the relationship between legal framing and social subordination, and on the conditions under which movements will be able to inflect legal language with insurgent social movement values.
The French film I’ve Loved You for So Long (2008) raises intriguing questions about the tension between silence and speech. It centers on an accused woman who has chosen to give no explanation in words about the motive for her criminal act. Her silence worsens her punishment and renders it harder to rebuild her life after her release from prison. This essay proposes seeing this silence as a critique of law. It aims to challenge our understanding regarding the different kinds of silence before the law and to assess the practical consequences arising from the decision of legal subjects to remain silent.
The essay studies the introduction and use of audio-visual media in contemporary Swedish courtroom praxis and how this affects social interaction and the constitution of judicial space. The background to the study is the increasing use of video technology in law courts during the last decennium, and in particular the reformed trial code regulating court proceedings introduced in Sweden in 2008. The reform is called A Modern Trial (En modernare rättegång, Proposition 2004/05:131). An important innovation is that testimonies in lower level court proceedings now are video recorded and, in case of an appeal trial, then are screened in the appellate court. The study of social interaction and the constitution of judicial space in the essay is based in part on an ethnographic study of the Stockholm appellate court (Svea hovrätt) conducted in the fall 2010; in part on a study of the preparatory works to the legal reform; and in part on research on how media technology affects social interaction and the constitution of space and place.
“It’s the Network”: The Federalist Society as a Supplier of Intellectual Capital for the Supreme Court
This chapter examines the influence of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy on some of the most important Supreme Court decisions of the past three decades. Mobilizing the epistemic community framework, it demonstrates how network members, acting as amici curiae, litigators, academics, and judges worked to transmit intellectual capital to Supreme Court decision makers in 12 federalism and separation of powers cases decided between 1983 and 2001. It finds that Federalist Society members were most successful in diffusing ideas into Supreme Court opinions in cases where doctrinal distance was greatest; that is, cases where the Supreme Court moved the farthest from its established constitutional framework.
What does the Supreme Court talk about when it talks about itself? In addition to the debates over interpretive method and doctrine that fill their opinions, Supreme Court justices often discuss what it means to be “a Court” and how such an institution must function. Our chapter explores this specific form of judicial self-representation, examining the ways in which members of the Court define their own “Court-ness” in their decisions. We argue that the Court’s acts of autobiography simultaneously generate images of impartiality and partiality. The result is the public projection of a contradictory judicial persona.