Virtuous adjudication; or the relevance of judicial character to legal interpretation

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Abstract / Description of output

The main tenet that this article aims to establish is that judicial virtue is necessary for successful legal interpretation. Theories of interpretation are exceedingly useful devices to guide and assess judicial reasoning, but they are limited in that the soundness of their outcomes is dependent upon the possession and exercise of judicial virtue. Thus, a theory of judicial character is inextricably linked with a theory of legal interpretation. After sustaining this claim, the article then provides an account of the structure of judicial virtue according to which judicial virtue is best understood as analogous to a practical skill. Next, it sketches a preliminary account of the kinds of character traits that are necessary for virtuous adjudication. Finally, the essay concludes by explicating the main elements—which are needed to arrive at justified judicial decisions but that no theory of interpretation may supply—that a virtuous judge brings to the process of legal interpretation. What results is a view of constitutional and statutory interpretation in which judicial virtue takes central stage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-95
JournalStatute Law Review
Issue number1
Early online date17 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2019


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