Article Title

American Law as Art: An Aesthetic Judgment

Publication Title

Washington University Jurisprudence Review


If legal documents are literature, and all art can be assessed via aesthetic theories, what insights can aesthetic theory grant us about increasing access to United States Code? That question is what this Note seeks to address. This Note begins by explaining the foundations of aesthetic theory, explaining the origins of the term, and contrasting two early approaches to aesthetics developed by Alexander Baumgarten and Immanuel Kant, respectively. Then, after arguing that legal codes are a form of legal literature, the Note uses Dennis Dutton’s aesthetic universals and Kant’s aesthetic principles to develop a framework for judging a legal code as an artwork. Finally, the Note compares United States Code with the United States Constitution to try and discern why the latter is more appreciated than the form, with the hope that such an interrogation can help us reformat United States Code into a more accessible, and ultimately more interesting, legal work.