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The Judge as Captain
Europaische und Amerikanische Richterbilder, ed. A. Gouron, et al. (1996)
To pursue the question of judicial duty, it is first necessary to gain clarity about the concept of obligation. An obligation, if it is to be morally valid, must be absolute and unqualified. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., one of the United States' greatest Supreme Court Justices, was one of the last legal thinkers to understand the necessity that duty be absolute. As Holmes writes, "[t]he test of a legal duty is the absolute nature of the command." If a judge is to have a duty, it must be absolute. But towards what is that absolute duty?
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