, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 335-353

First online:

Strategic Maneuvering with the Intention of the Legislator in the Justification of Judicial Decisions

  • Eveline T. FeterisAffiliated withDepartment of Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory and Rhetoric, University of Amsterdam Email author 

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The author gives an analysis of the strategic manoeuvring in the justification of legal decisions from a pragma-dialectical perspective by showing how a judge tries to reconcile dialectical and rhetorical aims. On the basis of an analysis and evaluation of the argumentation given by the US Supreme Court in the famous Holy Trinity case, it is shown how in a case in which the judge wants to make an exception to a legal rule for the concrete case tries to meet the dialectical reasonableness norm by seeing to it that his standpoint is sufficiently defended according to the requirements of the burden of proof of a judge in a rational critical discussion and how he tries at the same time to be rhetorically convincing for the legal audience by presenting the decision as a choice that is in line with the argumentation schemes and starting points that can be considered as accepted by the legal community in the US and by the US community as a whole.


Legal argumentation Strategic manoeuvring Burden of proof Legal interpretation Critical discussion Rhetorical strategy Precedent Obiter dictum