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Virginia Chief Justice Commends 2L for Winning Annual Writing Competition

On March 25th, Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell, Sr. praised second-year student Robert Noote for winning the third annual Writing Competition named for His Honor.

In his submission, “Is and Ought: How the Progression of Ricci Teaches Us to Accept the Criticisms and Reject the Norms of Political Jurisprudence,” Noote discusses the implications of a school of thought that removes any distinction between human will and rule of law.

According to proponents of political jurisprudence, judges are merely political actors and their opinions and decisions are not law, but rather rationalizations of what the judge intends to do in a given case.

“Of course the implications of this theory are disturbing to me,” said Noote. “However, not everything that this theory posits can be quickly dismissed. It is not appropriate to adopt a worldview that rejects the rule of law, but it is appropriate to accept the criticisms of an idea that challenges the human propensity towards biased behavior.”

Empirical evidence tracking the decisions of Supreme Court Justices as well as the writings of Blaise Pascal and Soren Kierkegaard formed the basis of Noote’s research.

During this research, he grew to better appreciate the constancy of God’s nature in light of the unpredictable movements of the human heart. Unlike proponents of political jurisprudence, Noote is certain that there is a rule of law that people ought to follow. He believes this task, however, is easier when people realize their own limitations and look beyond themselves.

Unable to attend this year, Justice Hassell oversaw the presentation of the award from his Richmond office via telecommunication.

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