Why Do So Many Judges Cite Jane Austen in Legal Decisions?  

written by Matthew Birkhold. added over 4 years ago by @icyflame ARCHIVES

austen writing books judges law citations    

“What makes a relationship ‘romantic,’ let alone ‘significant’ in its romantic depth,” Judge Barrington D. Parker wrote for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, “can be the subject of endless debate that varies across generations, regions, and genders. For some, it would involve the exchange of gifts such as flowers or chocolates; for others, it would depend on acts of physical intimacy; and for still others, all of these elements could be present yet the relationship, without a promise of exclusivity, would not be ‘significant.’ The history of romance is replete with precisely these blurred lines and misunderstandings.” The judge’s claim is something we all know to be true. But how do you prove it? The opinion then directs the reader, “See, e.g.” Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. From the judge’s own reading, Mansfield Park is legal proof that it is impossible to demarcate when a relationship becomes significant. What else but literature could make this point? And who, besides Jane Austen, could make it so convincingly?

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