Some Inarticulate Major Premise: Poetry, the Will of the People, and the US Supreme Court


ACLS Fellowship Program


Arts and Letters


“Some Inarticulate Major Premise” analyzes references to poems, poets, and the genre of poetry in 20th-and 21st-century American legal scholarship and Supreme Court opinions. What emerges is a record of shifting perceptions of the relationship between common law, constitutional rights, and the judiciary’s connection to popular will. Central to the analysis is a comparison of poetry’s rhetorical function in critical race scholarship and civil liberties opinions, as this highlights how assumptions about race, gender, and the American family have been tacitly present in claims about the extent to which US courts do or should manifest the will of the American people.