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The US Feminist Judgments Project

What would United States Supreme Court opinions look like–and what would their influence be–if key decisions on gender issues were written with a feminist perspective? The US Feminist Judgments Project seeks to answer these questions by pulling together a group of leading feminist legal scholars in the United States to rewrite, using feminist reasoning, the most significant Supreme Court cases on gender from the 1800s all the way to the present day.

Editors Linda Berger (UNLV), Bridget Crawford (Pace) and Kathy Stanchi (Temple), along with an Advisory Panel of diverse and distinguished scholars, targeted 25 influential Supreme Court cases related to gender for feminist revision. Those 25 rewritten opinions, along with introductory commentary explaining the issues and context of the decision, will be published by Cambridge University Press in a volume entitled Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court. You can see the final list of cases, as well as the authors of the rewritten opinions and commentaries, here.

The US Feminist Judgments Project was inspired by the successful collection and publication in Britain of Feminist Judgments: From Theory to Practice, by Rosemary Hunter, Clare McGlynn, and Erika Rackley. This volume, which included feminist versions of twenty-three key British decisions from the Court of Appeal and House of Lords, was published in 2010 to wide acclaim.

Like its British counterpart, the US Feminist Judgments Project seeks to illustrate how decision-makers with feminist viewpoints could have arrived at different decisions using different reasoning in critical Supreme Court cases despite the restrictions of stare decisis. The rewritten decisions are framed within the same precedent that bound the Supreme Court at the time of the opinion, but bring to the decision making and the opinion writing a feminist perspective on the facts and the law. The rewritten decisions show not only how feminist theory can apply to real-world judgments, but also the ways that stare decisions can mask the law’s masculine perspective and bias. In this way, the volume will help uncover the manner in which hidden and often-unrecognized gender bias drives the results and the reasoning in much of our jurisprudence.

The project brings together feminist legal theorists, practicing lawyers, clinicians and legal writing professors of diverse backgrounds and experiences. The goal is to show how feminist theory and reasoning can actually change the practical course of the law.

 

 

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