Friday, October 17, 2008

The Judicial Process, um, Movement(?)

One of the things that seems critical to establishing oneself as a scholar is becoming a part of a broader community of scholars. Six-plus years into my academic career, I feel only partially successful in this regard. Here's why: When people ask me what I write about, I usually say "the judicial process." It's an accurate answer. Nearly all of my scholarship has to do with judging, including the processes of appellate review, the functions of judicial opinions, and a concept I've called "judicial inactivism." I find it all fascinating and important, and expect it will keep me busy for the rest of my career.

But as I scan the schedule for the upcoming AALS meeting, I feel as though I lack a home. It's not that there isn't plenty of stuff written dealing with the judicial process. Nearly every day Larry Solum brings my attention to at least one article that falls into the judicial process category. But the authors seem to have primary allegiances elsewhere - they are Civ Pro people, or Con Law people, or Empirical Legal Studies people, or what have you. Nor is there a recognized Judicial Process component of the curriculum. (I'm in the early stages of trying to change that. More on that in a subsequent post.)

This strikes me as odd. And so I wonder: Should there be a judicial process community in some formal sense? After all, if I may understate the matter somewhat, courts and judges play a central role in this enterprise of ours. Given the constant chatter about judicial activism and the various threats to judicial independence and the explosion in the amount of empirical work being done on courts and the kerfuffles over unpublished opinions and on and on, oughtn't those of us who write about judging and courts at the very least get together from time to time to talk about what we're up to? Am I alone in this? If someone were to throw such a party, would anyone come?

[Cross-posted from Prawfsblawg]

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