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Blind Justice:

My father Vladimir asked me a good question last night. The goddess of Justice is depicted blindfolded and holding a scale. But if she's blindfolded, how does she know which pan of the scale is heavier than the other?

WB:
You can feel it if you're holding an object whose center of gravity is to the left or the right of your hand.

Just think of putting a weight bar on the floor, and telling your friend to put a barbell weight only on one end of the bar. I think if you put a blindfold on, grab the bar by the center with one hand and try to pick it up, you'll know which end the weight is on.
9.9.2005 2:17pm
snoey (mail):
It's not that she should know, it's that we should know, and know it was properly weighed (blindly to all things not in the pans).
9.9.2005 2:17pm
Senor Chumbawumba:
But WB -- if she's holding the scale with a chain attached to it, under load the scale will shift such that the center of gravity is directly below the point of attachment.
9.9.2005 2:21pm
Taimyoboi:
Simple really. She's peaking.

You'll notice that Blind Justice typically has her head tilted slightly upward and looking towards the weighing pan. Normally you would think this imparts an air of dignity about her. Lies, all lies. She's just doing it so she can look beneath the blindfold.
9.9.2005 2:27pm
David Berke:
She could always check with her free hand.
9.9.2005 2:36pm
Stephen M (Ethesis):
She is blindfolded while she weighs the scales. Then she looks to see what the outcome was. Traditionally she is always portrayed in the balancing part of the sequence, not in the looking part.
9.9.2005 3:01pm
Timothy Sandefur (mail):
Yeah, she puts her fingers on the scales.

Hey, wait a second....
9.9.2005 3:13pm
Positive Dennis:
Any symbol or analogy fails at some point. I had always thought that she was blindfolded so as to not see who had the better of the arguement. In other words not to be influenced by persons.

BTW Eugene does not sound very Russian are you really Genea (sic)?

Positive Dennis
9.9.2005 3:14pm
Cheburashka (mail):
I thought it would be Evgeniy.
9.9.2005 3:16pm
Will Wilkinson (mail) (www):
proprioception
9.9.2005 3:18pm
Kristian (mail) (www):
Actually, this explains everything.
9.9.2005 3:34pm
Positive Dennis:
Evgeniy is correct but every russian name has a nickname and I asked my wife and she says the short is Zhenya, I knew I was spelling it wrong. My wife laughed, oh BTW My wife is Russian.

Positive Dennis
9.9.2005 3:38pm
rbj:
An interesting aside, one courthouse in NYC has a statute of justice not blindfolded. The courthouse was built during the Tammany Hall era.
9.9.2005 3:40pm
htom (mail):
The scales are empty; she is ready to begin the judgement, without seeing who puts what in the scales, or on which side. Presumably she removes the mask to evaluate and then strike, if needed.
9.9.2005 3:43pm
Matt Bramanti (mail) (www):
She doesn't have a free hand to check with. One hand holds the scales and the other holds a double-edged sword.
9.9.2005 3:47pm
pct:
She trusts Eugene Volokh to whisper the answer in her ear.
9.9.2005 4:18pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Oh, she doesn't look at the case at hand; she just 'sights' precedent.
9.9.2005 4:24pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Two of my former law professors actually wrote an article about the various depictions of Justice; see Dennis E. Curtis and Judith Resnik, "Images of Justice," 96 Yale L. J. 1727 (1987). I can't say I've read it (my bad; I'd really like to) but it might addresss this question.

And I believe Eugene is Ukranian.
9.9.2005 4:36pm
Jerry McCusker:
Also, the statue of Justice at the Old Bailey isn't blindfolded.

And neither is this one:
9.9.2005 4:43pm
Lorenzo (mail):
My old political science professor actually explained that, saying she's blindfolded so she doesn't see the station or rank of those before her: All are equals; the scale weighs the evidence. Nobody in the class questioned that, but I thought at the time that the scales were relevant to civil cases weighing the preponderance of the evidence, but not criminal cases judged beyond a reasonable doubt. And what about the sword? If only Mr. Hoffman had read the article!
9.9.2005 4:55pm
Gino (mail):
Jerry McCusker,

That second Justice is smokin'! We need to put that one in the DOJ!
9.9.2005 5:44pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
The goddess of Justice was experiencing what it is like to have a disability, and because her sight was impaired, her sense of feel became hyper-developed, enabling her to feel the weight displacement. You see, the godess of Justice, since the time of Thomas Jefferson (the last autistic allowed before the advent of stadardized testing to achieve admission to the bar and bench) knows much that many lawyers and judges have yet to learn, and that is why she bears witness to the wisdom and virtues of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
9.9.2005 5:45pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
The goddess of Justice was experiencing what it is like to have a disability, and because her sight was impaired, her sense of feel became hyper-developed, enabling her to feel the weight displacement. You see, the godess of Justice, since the time of Thomas Jefferson (the last autistic allowed before the advent of standardized testing to achieve admission to the bar and bench) knows much that many lawyers and judges have yet to learn, and that is why she bears witness to the wisdom and virtues of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
9.9.2005 5:46pm
Nobody (mail):
If she doesn't look until the arguments have been weighed in the scale, she doesn't know which side put which arguments in which pan. If an argument over ownership of arguments should ensue, why then, she would have to adjudicate that to resolve the initial question. So, she puts the blindfold back on . . . .

Naturally, of course, the advocates would require an additional fee for this additional argument.

I wonder who invented this symbol?
9.9.2005 5:50pm
David Berke:
"She doesn't have a free hand to check with. One hand holds the scales and the other holds a double-edged sword."

So she taps it with the sword; whichever one is lower is heavier.
9.9.2005 6:33pm
Some Jarhead:
It's simple really, she's a Marine.

The blindfold and scale business is just to keep all of you from staring at her chest.
9.9.2005 6:38pm
ReaderY:
I've often wondered why the ACLU has never sued to get rid of the Goddess Justice. They seem to be very peculiar, very particular, about which religions they complain about. As a result, courts remove symbols of only some religions, not others, from the public domain. This practice of removing symbols of only disfavored religions, but keeping symbols of favored one, is of course done in the name of the Establishment Clause.
9.9.2005 7:55pm
Trip (mail) (www):
WB is correct. When a balancing scale tilts to one side the forces on the fulcrum do not cancel out. Justice should be able to tell by the force on her hand alone whether the scale is balancing.
9.9.2005 10:45pm
dw:
"I've often wondered why the ACLU has never sued to get rid of the Goddess Justice. They seem to be very peculiar, very particular, about which religions they complain about. As a result, courts remove symbols of only some religions, not others, from the public domain. This practice of removing symbols of only disfavored religions, but keeping symbols of favored one, is of course done in the name of the Establishment Clause."

Yea, it's kind of weird... they only go after the ones that actually still exist.
9.10.2005 8:47am
big dirigible (mail) (www):

When a balancing scale tilts to one side the forces on the fulcrum do not cancel out. Justice should be able to tell by the force on her hand alone whether the scale is balancing.


Eureka, someone's just invented perpetual motion. Put Lady Justice on a pivot or turntable, and the non-vertical force on her hand will turn her in a circle. And she'll keep going ... and going ...

Won't happen. The only force on her hand is vertical, no matter what the state of balance of the scales.

The sword, now - that's for kabonging legal types who flunked Physics 101.
9.10.2005 7:55pm
Cheburashka (mail):
Evgeniy is correct but every russian name has a nickname and I asked my wife and she says the short is Zhenya, I knew I was spelling it wrong. My wife laughed, oh BTW My wife is Russian.


Well, Russian names have synonyms, like Nataliya = Natasha, Olexander/Alexendra = Sasha. But they also have diminutives, which are like nicknames, like Sasha = Sashinka/Sashka (rude), Natasha = Natashka.

Its important not to mix some up. Evgeniy does not equal Gena, which is the diminuitive of Gennady, not of Evgeniy.

I didn't have a wife to ask, but my crocodile friend Gena helped me out.
9.11.2005 7:16pm
ReaderY:
>Yea, it's kind of weird... they only go after the ones that actually still exist.

http://www.goddess.org/vortices/
http://www.mysticwicks.com/showthread.php?t=18855

Just a couple of random web sites, not claiming to be an expert or have any special knowledge...

Let's consider the position that if a religion has sufficiently few adherents or is not regarded by the general public as being a real or living religion, the use of its symbols doesn't violate the establishment clause. Then isn't the use of a religious symbol by the state simply a governmental statement that the religion is too limited or unimportant to be of consequence? And if the legislature and judiciary disagree, the judiciary's view of religious prevalence/importance prevails?
9.12.2005 8:27am