Jurisprudence Seminar: How Judges Think

Credits: 2.00
Faculty: Gary Minda

President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court has provoked once again a great debate about how judges make decisions. While the Senators during the nomination hearing of Judge Sotomayor, a number of Senators asked question about a judge should cite and rely upon foreign authority in deciding a case involving American Law. Others wanted to know if Judge Sotomayor would follow the law. Still others were interested in knowing if Judge Sotomayor would decide cases based upon her ideological perspective and/or her preconceptions based on her personal experience. These are all the sorts of questions we will consider in the Seminar. But, we will also explore how the current economic recession and global financial crisis impacts on how these questions should be answered. The objective of our seminar will therefore seek to examine how judicial decision making as well as law law and justice is likely to develop in the aftermath of a global financial meltdown. As Richard A. Posner has recently written in his Atlantic blog: "The law schools were caught by surprise by the financial crisis of last September and the ensuing descent into what, realistically, must be regarded as the first depression (as distinct from merely a recession) since the Great Depression of 1930s." We will explore Judge Posner's reasons for this provocative statement. To accomplish this course objective we will begin with an examination of the banking crisis of 2008 and what it may mean for the future development of law and jurisprudence.

Grading and Method of Evaluation

Letter grade with pass/fail option. Students graded on a series of writing assignments and class participation.