The Child before the Court: Judgment, Citizenship, and the Constitution
Published by: University Of Alabama Press
Imprint: University of Alabama Press
Published: December 2021
272 Pages, 152.00 x 228.00 x 33.00 mm
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Many of the most controversial political issues of our time focus on the actions and well-being of children such as Greta Thunberg's climate movement; youth activists standing up for racial justice, safe schools, and an equitable economy; and the furor over separating migrant children from their families. When do we treat children as competent citizens, when do we treat them as dependents in need of protection, and why?
The Child before the Court: Judgment, Citizenship, and the Constitution provides answers to these foundational questions. It analyzes landmark US Supreme Court cases involving children's free speech and due process rights and argues that our ideas about civic and legal judgment are deeply contested concepts instead of simple character traits. These cases serve as analytic touchstones for these problems, and the Court's opinions seemingly articulate clear rules through a pragmatic balancing of interests.
Timothy Barouch shows how these cases continually reshape constitutional thought, breaking from a vocabulary of wardship and recasting the child as a liberal individual. He analyzes these legal opinions as judicial novelizations and focuses on their rhetorical markers: the range of tropes, idioms, figures, and arguments that emerge across nearly two centuries of jurisprudence in this important but oft-neglected area. The careful and subtle readings of these cases demonstrate how judicial representations of the child provide key resources for thinking about the child as citizen and, more broadly, citizenship itself. It serves as a bold call to think through the relationship between the liberal individual and the problem of civic judgment as it manifests in public culture in a wide array of contexts at a time when liberal democracy is under siege.
"Are children true citizens under the Constitution? Timothy Barouch provides a detailed and subtle analysis drawing on clusters of cases to explore the principal models addressing child citizenship. Because children are 'in between' noncitizenship and full citizenship, Barouch deftly uses his analysis to develop important insights into the promise of an 'inclusive citizenship.' This book will be a critical resource for theorists of democracy, legal rhetoricians, and constitutional scholars."
-Francis J. Mootz III, author of Rhetorical Knowledge in Legal Practice and Critical Legal Theory
"Children make trouble for the law. Not by virtue of what they do, but by virtue of who they are. Law is challenged to recognize and acknowledge both their humanity and their distinctiveness. The Child before the Court offers an unusual and insightful analysis of those challenges. Its attention both to judicial opinions and public discourse make it a very valuable resource for interdisciplinary exploration. It is theoretically sophisticated, and it uses that sophistication to offer a compelling illumination of the ways law comprehends childhood."
-Austin Sarat, editor of Imagining Legality: Where Law Meets Popular Culture and Knowing the Suffering of Others: Legal Perspectives on Pain and its Meanings
"The Child Before the Court: Citizenship and the Constitution demonstrates how judicial representations of the 'child' serve as a representative anecdote for understanding and negotiating the problem of 'judgment' in modern and late-modern US liberal-democratic public culture. The analysis of judicial discourse is both careful and deft, and the conclusions regarding the affordances of legal decision making and the crafting of judgment in public culture writ large are compelling. More than just a study of the rhetoric of legal discourse it is a model for how we might engage challenges to the legitimacy of liberal-democracy in contemporary times."
-John Louis Lucaites, coauthor of The Public Image: Photography and Civic Spectatorship