Making Sense of Metaphors: Visuality,
Aurality, and the Reconfiguration of American Legal Discourse
16 Cardozo Law Review 241 (1994); reprinted by permission of the Cardozo Law Review

Title Page | E-mail

Notes: Introduction

*. Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Law; B.A. (Juris.), Oxford University, 1983; LL.B., Dalhousie University, 1984; LL.M., University of Toronto, 1986; LL.M., Harvard Law School, 1988. I am very grateful to Jody Armour, Harry Flechtner, Candice Hoke, and Jules Lobel for both their support of this novel project and their insightful comments on various preliminary drafts. I am also indebted to Wes Pue, who invited me to present a version of this paper at the Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association in Phoenix, Arizona in June 1994. Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank my research assistants, Gary Wenig and Leah Schmulewitz, for their numerous and invaluable contributions to the cause. Responsibility for any mistakes or errors of interpretation contained herein is, of course, mine alone.

1. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man 130 (1964).

2. E.g., "free speech" (hearing); "hard cases" (touching); taking the "bitter with the sweet" (tasting, used by then Justice Rehnquist to describe a statutory limitation of a statutorily granted procedural right in Arnett v. Kennedy, 416 U.S. 134, 154 (1974)).

3. See, e.g., Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 559 (1896). For a more recent use of the phrase, see Herrera v. Collins, 113 S. Ct. 853, 860 (1993).

4. For a discussion and critique of this metaphor for law, see Milner S. Ball, Lying Down Together: Law, Metaphor and Theology 23-27 (1985).

5. See, e.g., Beer v. United States, 425 U.S. 130, 148 n.4 (1975); Kenneth W. Starr, "The Seamless Web of State and Federal Law," 26 S. Tex. L.J. 175 (1985).

6. The "[l]aw, wherein, as in a magic mirror, we see reflected, not only our own lives, but the lives of all men that have been! When I think on this majestic theme, my eyes dazzle. Oliver W. Holmes, JR., "The Law," in The Occasional Speeches of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes 20, 21 (Mark DeWolfe Howe ed., Harvard Univ. Press 1962) (1913). More recently, see Kermit L. Hall, The Magic Mirror: Law in American History (1989).

7. See, e.g., Andrus v. Allard, 444 U.S. 51, 65-66 (1979). For an extended discussion of this metaphor, see Thomas Ross, "Metaphor and Paradox", 23 Ga. L. Rev. 1053, 1055-63 (1989).

8. See, e.g., West Virginia State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 638 (1943).

9. See, e.g., Georgia v. South Carolina, 497 U.S. 376, 391 (1990).

10. See, e.g., General Box Co. v. United States, 351 U.S. 159, 169 (1955).

11. See, e.g., Schlesinger v. Wisconsin, 270 U.S. 230, 241 (1926). More recently, see Joseph L. Hoffman, "On the Perils of Line Drawing: Juveniles and the Death Penalty," 40 Hastings L.J. 229 (1989).

12. See, e.g., Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 112 S. Ct. 1904, 1914 (1992); see also Albert W. Alschuler, "Bright Line Fever and the Fourth Amendment," 45 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 227 (1984); cf. Cary v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 375 U.S. 261, 268 (1964) (referring to a "blurred line").

13. See Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, 637 (1952).

14. See generally Burt Henly, "'Penumbra': The Roots of a Legal Metaphor," 15 Hastings Const. L.Q. 81 (1987).

15. See generally Monica K. Kalo, "The Doctrine of Color of Title in North Carolina," 13 N.C. Cent. L.J. 123 (1982).

16. See, e.g., NLRB v. Sevette, Inc., 377 U.S. 46, 48 n.2 (1964).

17. See, e.g., Schneidewind v. ANR Pipeline Co., 485 U.S. 293, 308 n.4 (1988). See generally Jonathan R. Macey, "Origin of the Blue Sky Laws," 70 Tex. L. Rev. 347 (1991).

18. See, e.g., Associated Gen. Contractors v. California State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 536 (1982); John A. Ellis, "Quasi-estoppel: Black-Letter Rule of Law in Family Law Cases," 20 Beverly Hills B. Ass'n J. 156 (1986).

19. See, e.g., Jerome M. Culp, Jr., "Voice, Perspective, Truth, and Justice: Race and the Mountain in the Legal Academy," 38 Loy. L. Rev. 61 (1992); Richard Delgado, "When a Story is Just a Story: Does Voice Really Matter?," 76 Va. L. Rev. 95 (1990), Julius G. Getman, "Voices," 66 Tex. L. Rev. 577 (1988); Benita Ramsey, "Excluded Voices: Realities in Law and Law Reform," 42 U. Miami L. Rev. 1 (1987); Mark 20. Yudof, "'Tea at the Palaz of Hoon': The Human Voice in Legal Rules," 66 Tex. L. Rev. 589 (1988).

20. See, e.g., Robert H. Abrams, "Sing Muse: Legal Scholarship for New Law Teachers," 37 J. Legal Educ. 1 (1987); Allan C. Hutchinson, "Democracy and Determinacy: An Essay on Legal Interpretation," 43 U. Miami L. Rev. 541, 542 (1989) (discussing "Law's Song"); Karl Johnson & Ann Scales, "An Absolutely, Positively True Story: Seven Reasons Why We Sing," 16 N.M. L. Rev. 433 (1986); Martha Minow, "Interpreting Rights: An Essay for Robert Cover," 96 Yale L.J. 1860, 1861 (1987) (observing that "[L]egal language, like a song, can be hummed by someone who did not write it and chanted by those for whom it was not intended").

21. For discussions of "silence" and "silencing," see Lucinda Finley, "Breaking Women's Silence in Law: The Dilemma of the Gendered Nature of Legal Reasoning," 64 Notre Dame L. Rev. 886 (1989); Robin West, "Feminism, Critical Social Theory and Law", 1989 U. Chi. Legal F. 59.

22. See, e.g., Julius G. Getman & F. Ray Marshall, "Industrial Relations in Transition: The Paper Industry Example," 102 Yale L.J. 1803, 1806 (1993); James M. O'Fallon & Cheyney C. Ryan, "Finding a Voice, Giving an Ear: Reflections of Masters/Slaves, Men/Women," 24 Ga. L. Rev. 883 (1990); Patricia A. Tidwell & Peter Linzer, "The Flesh-Colored Bandaid - Contracts, Feminism, Dialogue and Norms," 28 Hous. L. Rev. 791, 807, 813-14 (1991).

23. See, e.g., W. Cole Durham, "Rhetorical Resonance and Constitutional Vision," 14 Cardozo L. Rev. 893 (1993); James B. White, "Law as Rhetoric, Rhetoric as Law: The Arts of Cultural and Communal Life," 52 U. Chi. L. Rev. 684 (1985).

24. See, e.g, Eve Cary & Mary R. Falk, "People v. Scott & People v. Keta: "Democracy Begins in Conversation"," 58 Brook. L. Rev. 1279 (1993) (state constitutional law as discourse); George P. Fletcher, "Law as Discourse," 13 Cardozo L. Rev. 1631 (1992).

25. See, e.g., Richard Delgado, "Storytelling for Oppositionists and Others: A Plea for Narrative," 87 Mich. L. Rev. 2411 (1989); Toni M. Massuro, "Empathy, Legal Storytelling, and the Rule of Law: New Words, Old Wounds," 87 Mich. L. Rev. 2099 (1989); Sandra C. McKenzie, "Storytelling: A Different Voice for Legal Scholarship," 41 Kan. L. Rev. 251 (1992); Richard K. Sherwin, "A Matter of Voice and Plot: Belief and Suspicion in Legal Storytelling," 87 Mich. L. Rev. 543 (1988).

26. See, e.g., Mary Ann Glendon, Rights Talk (1991); Perry Dane, "The Maps of Sovereignty: A Meditation," 12 Cardozo L. Rev. 959, 965 (1991) ("sovereignty-talk"); Paul A. LeBel, "Rights-Talk and Torts-Talk: A Commentary on the Road Not Taken in the Intellectual History of Tort Law," 41 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 811 (1991); Steven D. Smith, "In Defense of Traditional Legal Scholarship: A Comment on Schlegel, Weisberg and DanCohen," 63 U. Colo. L. Rev. 627, 627 (1992) ("doctrine talk"); Joseph P. Tomain, "Contract Compensation in Nonmarket Transactions," 46 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 867, 872 (1985) ("contracts talk").

27. See, e.g., Anthony V. Alfieri, "The Antinomies of Poverty Law and a Theory of Dialogic Empowerment, 16 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 659, 696-97 (1987-88) (attorney-client relation as dialogue); Robert M. Cover & T. Alexander Aleinikoff, "Dialectical Federalism: Habeas Corpus and the Court," 86 Yale L.J. 1035, 1048 (1977) (constitutional federalism as dialogue); Barry Friedman, "Dialogue and Judicial Review," 91 Mlch. L. Rev. 577, 653 (1993); Frank I. Michelman, "The Supreme Court, 1985 Term--Foreword: Traces of Self-Government," 100 Harv. L. Rev. 4, 8-12 (1986) (judicial process as dialogue).

28. See, e.g, Teresa G. Phelps, "The New Legal Rhetoric," 40 Sw. L.J. 1089, 1102 (1986) (law/legal writing as conversation); Elizabeth M. Schneider, "The Dialectic of Rights and Politics: Perspectives from the Women's Movement," 61 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 589, 622 (1986) (rights as conversation); Joseph W. Singer, "The Player and the Cards: Nihilism and Legal Theory," 94 Yale L.J. 1, 51 (1984) (legal reasoning as conversation).

29. See, e.g., Milner S. Ball, "Stories of Origin and Constitutional Possibilities," 87 Mich. L. Rev. 2280, 2288-95 (1989); Elizabeth P. Hodges, "Writing in a Different Voice," 66 Tex. L. Rev. 629, 640 (1988); Carol Weisbrod, "Practical Polyphony: Theories of the State and Feminist Jurisprudence," 24 Ga. L. Rev. 985 (1990).