The Case of the Speluncean Explorers
Discuss which of the opinions presented in the Speluncean Explorers case offers the best justification for how the court should rule on the appeal. Explain your position and why it’s preferable to the others offered by the judges in the case. Consider the diverse ways that judges and courts respond to legal, ethical and philosophical questions. As you think about the hypothetical and real cases in this assignment keep in mind the old legal maxim that “hard cases make bad law”. The Case of the Speluncean Explorers is a hypothetical case decided by the Supreme Court of “Newgarth”. It was written by a Harvard Law professor, Lon Fuller, and published originally (1949) in the Harvard Law to examine the kinds of ethical, legal and philosophical problems that courts, and judges sometimes encounter. It’s a good example of the old legal maxim that “hard cases make bad law”. As you read the five opinions written by the judges on this hypothetical supreme court consider the debate among the judges about whether the task of the judge should be to only apply the law that has been written by a legislature or whether judges should also take into account whether justice is being done through the strict application of a statute. The case presents, among other things, the different approaches that judges take to the problem of applying statutes written by legislatures to the particular issues raised in the cases before them. As you read the various opinions notice that some of the judges feel that it’s best to apply the law strictly as written while others think that the task of the judge should be to interpret a statute in order to allow the law to be applicable to circumstances that the legislators who wrote the statute couldn’t possibly have envisioned.
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