In an essay in the Oxford University Press blog, "Nary a “philosopher king”: The long road from Plato to American politics," Louis René Beres laments the state of political discourse in the U.S.:
In American politics, no one any longer expects what Ralph Waldo Emerson had once called “high thinking.” Rather, the celebrity politician draws huge audiences (and donors) although very few would ever expect to hear anything of substance. In our national politics of veneered truths, whenever a candidate’s spoken words seethe with vacant allusions and blatant equivocations, the crowd nods approvingly, and leaps with satisfaction.
As the articulation of public policy is increasingly captured by simplistic slogans, soundbites and tweets, and even complicated public acts bear cute Madison Avenue titles, judicial opinions may be the last sanctuary of rational discourse on public matters, anchored as they are in precedent and shaped by a form that demands articulation of facts and reasoned argument. The organized bar, from the State Bar of Michigan to the American Bar Association, is increasingly focused on the importance of shoring up civic education in the U.S. A key part of that challenge is how to teach critical thinking. Perhaps it's time to take some of the best examples of judicial opinions off the shelf and use them as teaching tools outside of the profession and legal academy.
Disclaimer: yes, we recognize that there are one or two badly written judicial opinions in the canon.
Art: The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Katsushika Hokusai, 1826.