Essay about legal reason

Submitted By MariaOresev
Words: 1879
Pages: 8

Legal Reasoning in the Judicial Process A well-written opinion and sound approach to legal reasoning in the judicial process are vital to maintaining the integrity of a court. In the Supreme Court case of Florida v. Jardines, it is clear that well-founded and logical approaches to deciding a case can lead to very different opinions as to how the final outcome in a case takes shape. (1). The majority view effectively relies on widely shared values to establish the existence of an infringement on Jardines’ Fourth Amendment protection “against unreasonable searches and seizures.”1 Within the context of legal reasoning, widely shared values refer to “social values” and not the values that an individual judge or group of judges may “deem most worthy.”2 For example, the majority in Edwards v. Aguillard notes in its decision that “Families entrust public schools with the education of their children, but condition their trust on the understanding that the classroom will not purposely be used to advance religious views that may conflict with the private beliefs of the student and his or her family.”3 In this case, the social value of protection for children from religious indoctrination inside public schools compels the court to approach the acceptance of the Louisiana legislature’s purpose for the “Balanced Treatment” Act with skepticism. The justices in the majority weighed the importance of protecting these social values against the call to trust the legislative body’s sincerity in claiming that the Act’s purpose was secular in nature. The outcome of this conflict did not lean in favor of the state, “While the Court is normally deferential to a State’s articulation of a secular purpose, it is required that the statement of such purpose be sincere and not a sham.”4
Sometimes, judges must weigh “widely shared moral values against each other [and]…Because legal decisions require choices from among competing values, judges and others who analyze legal problems cannot be ‘objective.’”5 Wisconsin v. Yoder exemplifies a case in which there is a struggle between respecting the right of the Amish to freely exercise their religious beliefs, which is also a widely valued societal right, versus the state’s interest—both that of its governing body and of its residents—in affording children greater opportunity via a “compulsory school attendance law that requires education until the age of sixteen.”6 In this case, the Court comes to a compromise in which it recognizes the validity of the law, yet also allows for religious exemption from the law for the Yoders. It is important to realize that “situations exist whenever circumstances pull people in two inconsistent but equally good directions at once;” therefore, well-developed opinions are vital to establishing trust in the judicial process.7
In Florida v. Jardines, the court is clear regarding the widely accepted value that “the home is first among equals,” in accordance with the Fourth Amendment. The majority explains, “To find a visitor knocking on the door is routine (even if sometimes unwelcome); to spot that same visitor exploring the front path with a metal detector…before saying hello and asking permission, would inspire most of us to—well, call the police.”8 However, to what protection does the ordinary citizen resort if the intrusion is committed by a police officer? The answer is in the Fourth Amendment. Here, the majority takes into account how most people would feel about such an intrusion and gives examples of what they would consider to be similar intrusions to the one at hand in Jardines. In very clear language, the Court articulates that, in this case, “the background social norms that invite a visitor to the front door do not invite him there to conduct such a search.”9 The court shows great respect to the public’s expectations that these norms are to be observed, especially within the confines of the home and extending to its external components that are not…