Professor Kahn Publishes Book on the Art of the Judicial Opinion

Paul W. Kahn ’80, the Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities, has just published his tenth book: Making the Case: The Art of Judicial Opinion (Yale University Press, 2016). Drawing on 30 years of teaching at Yale, Kahn writes of legal pedagogy and legal argument. Law, he argues, should be approached as a set of argumentative resources. Only by learning how judges actually seek to persuade each other can students learn how to write and speak about the law. 

As in his other books, Kahn takes a broad, interdisciplinary approach. He brings to his analysis of the judicial opinion a concern with narrative, voice, and structure.  He explores the way in which doctrine develops and declines, as well as the importance of facts in constructing a context for decision.

The book stands in the tradition of Karl Llewellyn's The Bramble Bush and Edward Levi's Introduction to Legal Reasoning: legal scholarship that speaks simultaneously to students and professors. Practitioners, too, including judges, should find much of interest in this book.

Professor Kahn teaches in the areas of constitutional law and theory, international law, cultural theory, political theology and philosophy. Before coming to Yale in 1985, he clerked for Justice White in the United States Supreme Court and practiced law in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Legitimacy and History: Self-Government in American Constitutional Theory; The Reign of Law: Marbury v. Madison and the Construction of America; The Cultural Study of Law: Reconstructing Legal Scholarship; Law and Love: The Trials of King Lear; Putting Liberalism in its Place; Out of Eden: Adam and Eve and the Problem of Evil; Sacred Violence: Torture, Terror, Sovereignty; Finding Ourselves at the Movies: Philosophy for a New Generation; and Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in Philosophy and J.D. from Yale.