Law ... and the Imagination?
"That's not a real law," Alice told the judge at her trial in Wonderland. "You just made it up yourself." It is easy to see her point. People who make laws up cannot claim to be following laws that are already laid down. It would seem that if a person is faithful to established law, he cannot be doing anything new. He does not need an imagination. Nevertheless, first year law students discover, often with shock, that they must be imaginative merely to understand what judges have already done. American law is based on the precedents set by judges in prior cases. American law students read collections of these cases called "casebooks." They are taught by a so-called Socratic method: professors ask them questions about how to reconcile one case with another. For example, a student might read several cases in which the defendant (or person sued) had physically harmed the plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit).
"Law ... and the Imagination?,"
LOGOS: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture: Vol. 1
, Article 9.
Available at: https://ir.stthomas.edu/logos/vol1/iss1/9