“What is it that I do when I decide a case? To what sources of information do I appeal for guidance? In what proportions do I permit them to contribute to the result? If a precedent is applicable, when do I refuse to follow it? If no precedent is applicable, how do I reach the rule that will make a precedent for the future? If I am seeking logical consistency, the symmetry of the legal structure, how far shall I seek it? At what point shall the quest be halted by some discrepant custom, by some consideration of the social welfare by my own or the common standards of justice and morals?”
So Judge (later Justice) Benjamin Cardozo in The Nature of the Judicial Process (1921). Now let’s see, which factors did Cardozo not enumerate as legitimate means of “halting the quest”?
Fishing trips? College tuition? Real estate transfers?
Don’t tell me the Robber Barons of the gilded age were such shrinking violets. Possibly judges had some self-respect in those far-off times.
(thanks to Bruce Brooks for the quotation)