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Legal Discourse and Political Intolerance: The Ideology of Clear and Present Danger

Mark Kessler
Law & Society Review
Vol. 27, No. 3 (1993), pp. 559-598
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Law and Society Association
DOI: 10.2307/3054105
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3054105
Page Count: 39
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Legal Discourse and Political Intolerance: The Ideology of Clear and Present Danger
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Abstract

Using insights from poststructuralist literary theories, writings on ideology, and theories of practice, this article develops an interpretive perspective on political tolerance for nonconformity. Viewing Supreme Court expression doctrine as ideology, it suggests that legal discourse, in combination with intersecting social, political, and scientific discourses, socially constructs political difference and constitutes a political spectrum. Research indicating differences in tolerance between elites and the public is interpreted as arising from dual ideological strands within legal discourse that are appropriated depending on one's location in social relations. The theoretical approach is used to situate law and legal institutions in American culture and extend previous work on legal doctrine as ideology emerging from the Critical Legal Studies movement.

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