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Law, Justice, Legal Theory, Jurisprudence, First Impression

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Criminology and Criminal Justice | Jurisprudence | Law | Legal History | Legal Theory


What does it mean to assert that judges should decide cases according to justice and not according to the law? Is there something incoherent in the question itself? That question will serve as our springboard in examining what is—or should be—the connection between justice and law. Legal and political theorists since the time of Plato have wrestled with the problem of whether justice is part of law or is simply a moral judgment about law. Nearly every writer on the subject has either concluded that justice is only a judgment about law or has offered no reason to support a conclusion that justice is somehow part of law. This Essay attempts to reason toward such a conclusion, arguing that justice is an inherent component of the law and not separate or distinct from it. Given the history of the topic, I start with a disclaimer. The issues involved in these questions are as vast as they are fundamental. I do not pretend to have a definitive solution. I do attempt a suggestive solution based on an extended hypothetical case.