This Article contributes to the literature on the visual and the law by providing new empirical research on the use of images in U.S. Supreme Court opinions. In the trial court, the concern about using images is well known. In the highest court of the land, however, the use of images has been little studied and little discussed. This Article includes a comprehensive review of all images that appear in all opinions between 1997 and 2009. It also examines three paradigmatic images—maps, artifacts, and photos—and how they are used in three opinions. The use of maps and artifacts is the least controversial, especially when they are the focus of discussion in the opinion. The use of photos can be more questionable, especially when the case is emotionally charged and the justices do not discuss the photos in the opinion. Although “a picture is worth a thousand words,” it can be interpreted in many different ways. The justices need to choose their photos carefully and explain why they have included a particular photo and what they think it shows. Justices who see the case differently need to challenge the photo and what they think it depicts, just as they would challenge a precedent or a legal argument.
Nancy S. Marder,
The Court and the Visual: Images and Artifacts in U.S. Supreme Court Opinions,
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol88/iss2/6