Skip to main content

Justice as Translation

An Essay in Cultural and Legal Criticism

White extends his conception of United States law as a constitutive rhetoric shaping American legal culture that he proposed in When Words Lose Their Meaning, and asks how Americans can and should criticize this culture and the texts it creates. In determining if a judicial opinion is good or bad, he explores the possibility of cultural criticism, the nature of conceptual language, the character of economic and legal discourse, and the appropriate expectations for critical and analytic writing. White employs his unique approach by analyzing individual cases involving the Fourth Amendment of the United States constitution and demonstrates how a judge translates the facts and the legal tradition, creating a text that constructs a political and ethical community with its readers.

"White has given us not just a novel answer to the traditional jurisprudential questions, but also a new way of reading and evaluating judicial opinions, and thus a new appreciation of the liberty which they continue to protect."—Robin West, Times Literary Supplement

"James Boyd White should be nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court, solely on the strength of this book. . . . Justice as Translation is an important work of philosophy, yet it is written in a lucid, friendly style that requires no background in philosophy. It will transform the way you think about law."—Henry Cohen, Federal Bar News & Journal

"White calls us to rise above the often deadening and dreary language in which we are taught to write professionally. . . . It is hard to imagine equaling the clarity of eloquence of White’s challenge. The apparently effortless grace of his prose conveys complex thoughts with deceptive simplicity."—Elizabeth Mertz, Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities

"Justice as Translation, like White’s earlier work, provides a refreshing reminder that the humanities, despite the pummelling they have recently endured, can be humane."—Kenneth L. Karst, Michigan Law Review

332 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1990

Language and Linguistics: Language and Law

Law and Legal Studies: Legal Thought

Rhetoric and Communication

Table of Contents

Part One: Looking at our Languages
1. Intellectual Integration
2. The Language of Concepts: A Case Study
3. The Language and Culture of Economics
Appendix to Chapter Three
Part Two: The Judicial Opinion as a Form of Life
4. Judicial Criticism
5. "Original Intention" in the Slave Cases
6. "Plain Meaning" and Translation: The Olmstead Opinions
7. The Reading of Precedent: United States v. White
8. The Fourth Amendment as a Way of Talking About People: The Robinson Case
9. The Constitutive Character of the Exclusionary Rule
10. The Judicial Opinion as a Form of Life
Part Three: The Activity of Translation
11. Translation, Interpretation, and Law
12. Justice as Translation


American Society of Writers on Legal Subject: Scribes Book Award

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press