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Monday, December 07, 2015

Tuttle, Taoism, and my Tour

As someone who studies law and religion, I've long been interested in the question, debated by many legal scholars and philosophers over the years, of whether public officials, including judges, should be able to consult their religious views when deciding difficult, controversial, and indeterminate legal questions.  Usually this means Christianity of some sort, but as someone who is more partial to Asian religions, I've always wondered what would happen if a judge became a Taoist of the Lao Tzu/Chuang Tzu sort.  If a Christian judge can consult his or her Christian views on, say, abortion, wouldn't it be interesting to know what a Taoist judge might do if she consulted her Taoist views in, say, a death penalty case?  For a while I thought I would try my hand at writing a law review article called "The Tao of Law" about this, but when I got down to really considering what I might say, it took about two seconds to realize that the law review genre, magnificent though it may be, was not up to the task of exploring this issue.  So instead I wrote a novel.

Today is the official pub date of "Tuttle in the Balance." The novel is about a Supreme Court justice having a mid-life crisis in the middle of one of the biggest terms in recent years.  Now, it's true that a recent Amazon review described the book as "complete and utter trash," and it's also true that an agent who rejected the book once said that "the notion of a sixtyish man in that important a position suffering like a 14-year-old girl is probably more true to life than I might wish, but it makes me so uncomfortable that I just cannot enjoy the story," but when you're thinking about buying it, I hope you'll instead put more stock in the opinions of Larry Tribe, who said that, "for a painless lesson in constitutional theory for the layman, underscoring the 'lay,' you’ve got to read this book," or Chuck Klosterman, who wrote that "this is the best — and, I must admit, only— novel I’ve ever read that deftly utilizes the possible reversal of a decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the Establishment Clause as a plot device within a light romantic comedy."

For anyone living in Boston, NY, DC, or Philly, I hope you'll consider coming out to one of my upcoming reading events.  I'll be at the Harvard Bookstore on Dec. 8 at 7pm, at Cardozo Law on Dec. 10 at 7pm ("in conversation with" the awesome and hilarious Judge Paul Oetken), at Teaism in Penn Quarter (in DC) on Dec 14 at 6, and the Ethical Society of Philadelphia on Dec. 15 at 7 (w/ special guest, stand up comic, and former Prawf-er Brian Foley) at the Ethical Society of Philly.  More details on these events are here.  Oh, and over here is a video my son made of our hedgehog trying to eat a blueberry.

Posted by Jay Wexler on December 7, 2015 at 08:57 AM in Jay Wexler | Permalink


Cocoa Puff either is or is not in the novel.

Posted by: Jay Wexler | Dec 8, 2015 5:40:25 PM

The summary at Amazon, perhaps written by the author, notes it is a "hilarious and poignant debut novel."

A serious case here was Justice Whittaker, who was often a "swing justice" and ultimately retired for medical reasons. "On Democracy's Doorstep: The Inside Story of How the Supreme Court Brought One Person One Vote to the United States" (the author was a guest last night for C-SPAN's Baker v. Carr episode of "Landmark Cases") does a good job providing a thumbnail of the events there.

BTW, Cardozo Law is listed at 55 5th Avenue. It's my mom's birthday. Perhaps, I can get a free copy. :)

Posted by: Joe | Dec 8, 2015 11:42:55 AM

Is Cocoa Puff in the novel at all?

Posted by: Goober | Dec 7, 2015 3:48:33 PM

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