ERIC Number: ED351685
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Guaranteed Authority and Contrived Dialogism: The Supreme Court's Majority Opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick.
The Supreme Court opinion's absolute authority and guaranteed admission to the legal canon make it a rhetorically unique genre, but nevertheless one that is illuminated through close analysis. On June 30, 1986, the United States Supreme Court announced its decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, expressing a judgment that the Federal Constitution does not confer "a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in sodomy." Written by Justice Byron White, the "Bowers" majority opinion has been one of the most widely attacked opinions in Supreme Court history, primarily because of its selective attribution of constitutional rights, and secondarily because of its open privileging of perceived moral attitudes. To illustrate the connection between language and ideology in Bowers v. Hardwick, this paper focuses on ways in which not only the meaning, but also the voice of the opinion, privileges an attitude of intolerance toward diversity. Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of hybrid constructions provides an avenue to analysis, as the opinion appears to include the case's opposing voices. However, the voice of Michael Hardwick, who initiated the case after being arrested for sodomy, is misconstrued consistently in ways that portray him as perverse, self-serving, and completely ignorant of the law. The monologic nature of the opinion suggests that it was Hardwick's homosexuality, not his case, that was considered. (Author/RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Bowers v Hardwick; Mikhail Bakhtin; Rhetorical Stance; Rhetorical Strategies; Sodomy; Supreme Court
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (43rd, Cincinnati, OH, March 19-21, 1992).