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The Blind Justice Paradox: Judges with Visual Impairments and the Disability Metaphor

Doron Dorfman

Keywords: Judges; Judicial Appointment; Disability; Disability Employment; Law and Humanities; Art and Law; Legal History; Comparative Law

The metaphor connecting blindness and fair-impartial legal treatment has been embodied in the Western world for hundreds of years through the image of a blindfolded woman who represents justice. Nonetheless, not much has been written about the complexities and obstacles that stand in the way of placing actual blind judges on the bench. Nor has the ‘Icon of Justice’ been used to represent the social struggle for disability rights. This article is the first to turn a spotlight on the long history of blind people in England and the United States serving as members of the judiciary and to explore how this integration dovetails with the symbolic importance of blindness in the iconography of law. The article delves into the varied connotations of blindness throughout Western culture and legal history, specifically in its purported relationship to the objectivity of the judge. Finally, the article contrasts examples of the inclusion of blind people in Anglo-American legal systems with an Israeli case, revealing existing barriers that still prevent many blind people from entering the legal profession.

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