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Shakespeare on Trial

Last night three U.S. Supreme Court judges participated in the annual mock trial event in Washington D.C. Law professor Kenji Yoshino explains how these events use Shakespeare to teach us about justice. 

Every years since 1994, the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington D.C. presents mock trials, often based on characters from Shakespeare’s plays. On April 10 this year, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Samuel Alito Jr. and Sonia Sotomayor presided over a trial involving characters from Oscar Wilde’s 1895 play An Ideal Husband, a play in this season’s repertoire. Past mock trials have involved the guilt or innocence of characters who committed murder, and the use of the insanity defense for Hamlet

What’s the Big Idea?

While the event is all in good fun, and often has a humorous tone behind it, Constitutional Law professor Kenji Yoshino told Big Think the mock trials often have serious undertones, and allow us to view contemporary issues of justice through the works of Shakespeare. 

For instance, Yoshino tells the story of how he tried a case involving the guilt or innocence of King Henry V, who he tried in a mock trial as a war criminal:


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