Writing History in a Supreme Court Ruling: Evaluative language in the majority opinion concerning Dobbs vs. Jackson


  • Polina Shvanyukova




Appraisal Theory, legal discourse, U. S. Supreme Court, abortion, argumentative discourse


This paper conducts an exploratory investigation into the use of evaluative language in the historical section of the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, 597 U.S. (2022). The investigation employs Martin & White’s (2005) Appraisal Theory, adapted specifically for the analysis of the particular evaluative features of historical discourse as elaborated on, for example, by Myskow (2018a) and Oteíza & Pinuer (2013). The findings confirm that a revised version of the Appraisal framework can be fruitfully applied to systematically account for the complex interplay between, on the one hand, the various sources of evaluation, and, on the other hand, the specific attitudinal resources, employed by the authorial voice in an attempt to construe and advance a particular view of the past. This particular ideological view is ultimately leveraged to produce a convincing justificatory argument for the overruling of the two previous landmark Supreme Court decisions that had, respectively, granted and confirmed abortion as a constitutional right in the United States of America.


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How to Cite

Shvanyukova, P. (2023). Writing History in a Supreme Court Ruling: Evaluative language in the majority opinion concerning Dobbs vs. Jackson. HERMES - Journal of Language and Communication in Business, (63), 19–34. https://doi.org/10.7146/hjlcb.vi63.140130



THEMATIC SECTION: Evaluation, argumentation and narrative(s) in conflicting contexts