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Teaching “Is This Case Rightly Decided?”

By Steven Arrigg Koh. Full Text.

“Is this case rightly decided?” From the first week of law school, every law student must grapple with this classroom question. This Essay argues that this vital question is problematically under-specified, creating imprecision in thinking about law. This Essay thus advocates that law professors should present students with a three-part framework: whether a case is rightly decided legally, morally, or sociologically. 

Additionally, this Essay argues that disaggregating the question exposes deeper deficiencies in legal education. Many law professors do not provide students with serious grounding to engage in rigorous thinking about the relationship between law, morality, and justice, not to mention a deeper theory regarding law’s function in culture and society. Perhaps, such imprecision self-replicates into legal reasoning in legal scholarship and popular discourse.