Article Title

Blind Justice


As Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis remind us in Representing Justice, the image of Justitia, blindfolded, balancing a scale in one hand, and brandishing an unsheathed sword in the other, is ubiquitous. Indeed, as I have written elsewhere, the image is "so ubiquitous - in courthouses, on law books, in law schools - and so ingrained in our collective consciousness, that it has the weight of a given. Too often, we are beyond noticing it, beyond seeing it." Representing Justice, certainly more than any other work I am aware of, forces the reader to see Justice, or as I prefer to call her, Justitia. It's a magisterial book, and the idea of bringing a distinct perspective to the subject is daunting. Still, there is something I hope to add to the discussion that Resnik and Curtis have begun with their work. That something is to ask a slightly different question, or perhaps put the question more bluntly than I think Representing Justice does. While attention has been paid to Justitia's attributes, my question shifts attention from Justitia's affects to Justitia's effects. My question is what function does Justitia have? In short, I want to explore the work she does, and for whom. In the remainder of this Essay, I make that exploration by drawing attention to two areas of the criminal law where we are the ones blindfolded: rape shield laws and punishment decisions. I then turn, more broadly, to blindness as it relates to our carceral state.