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Oñati Socio-Legal Series [online], 9(5), 577-595.


Legal reasoning in the common law tradition requires judges to draw on concepts, and examples that are meant to resonate with a particular emotional import and operate in judicial reasoning as though they do. Judicial applications of constitutional rights are regularly interpreted by reference to past violations (either through precedent, contextual framings, and/or legislative history), which in turn elicit a series of emotions which work to deepen and intensify judicial understandings of a right guarantee (freedom of association, freedom of expression, equality, security of the person, etc.). This paper examines the way in which invocations of past political histories, and rights abuses (however ill or well-defined), work to conjure up a set of service emotions (emotions which work to establish a particular frame of mind), which guide judicial applications of doctrine in cases concerning an alleged violation of a constitutional right.