The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America
legal rhetoric


Snyder v. Phelps

Submitted by Jim Aune on March 2, 2011 - 11:11am

The Supremes just ruled in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church funeral pickets (8-1, Justice Alito dissenting). It's probably fortunate for defenders of free speech absolutism that CJ Roberts wrote the majority opinion. A good line: "Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and -- as it did here -- inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker."


Legal Rhetoric Bibliography, 2005-2010

Submitted by Jim Aune on January 20, 2011 - 7:37pm

I hope eventually we can include bibliographies on specific research topics in rhetorical studies on the Blogora (the state of bibliographic work in the field is, as Jack Seltzer often says, a bit of a scandal). I'm posting here a draft of a bibliography on legal rhetoric in Communication and Law journals for the last five years. A more complete bibliography is in progress. Is this the sort of thing our readers/RSA members find helpful? Do others have bibliographies to submit?


College Hate Speech Codes After Virginia v. Black

Submitted by Jim Aune on November 18, 2010 - 7:44pm

Burning Crosses on Campus: University Hate Speech Codes

Alexander Tsesis
Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 2, December 2010

Downloadable here.



On The Commerce Clause

Submitted by syntaxfactory on November 6, 2010 - 11:03pm

Nobody's posted on politics in a while, so here's something I found interesting across my transom. It looks like a fascinating piece, one that I like because it pulls on questions of definition and historical transformation of textual meaning. And it has irritated conservative/libertarian types, which I suppose is a plus from my perspective (http://

Jack M. Balkin



More on Snyder v. Phelps

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 17, 2010 - 5:46pm

A plug for my student Ryan Malphurs's work on SC oral argument.


Snyder v. Phelps

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 10, 2010 - 11:55am

Audio recording and transcript of the Westboro Baptist Church funeral protest case. Snyder's case looks really weak to me; this might end up with a clearer majority than predicted.


Speaking of Legal Rhetoric

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 7, 2010 - 5:13pm

Two of my favorite things: the Holmes Canon and legal argument (the humor here partially comes from the notorious opacity of the "rule against perpetuities").

The Game is Afoot!: The Significance of Gratuitous Transfers in the Sherlock Holmes Canon

Stephen R. Alton
Texas Wesleyan University-School of Law

September 14, 2010



Remembering Lady Chatterley (During Banned Books Week)

Submitted by Jim Aune on September 22, 2010 - 8:51pm

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me)
Between the end of the “Chatterley” ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.
--Philip Larkin

A really compelling essay on the Lady Chatterley trial. The great Richard Hoggart (would that American cultural studies ever recognized him) makes an appearance.


Copyright Comix

Submitted by Jim Aune on August 20, 2010 - 1:48pm

I've taught First Amendment/media law for many years. The law of copyright is both interesting and highly confusing, so this comic book from Duke Law is a very cool thing (free digital versions).


How to Do Legal Rhetoric

Submitted by Jim Aune on August 14, 2010 - 10:39pm

A nifty article by my recently-defended PHD student Ryan Malphurs. The journal itself should be of interest to rhetorical studies scholars.