Recent events have called to my mind the old fable of the emperor’s new clothes, in which it took a child to call out the truth everyone knew while everyone also pretended to believe an obvious fiction.

In this case, there are two closely related fictions — the fiction that there are always meaningful, neutral tests for applying certain fundamental legal principles, and that judges always can simply “apply the law” in a wise and judicious manner without any eye to the results.

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