Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department




Faculty Mentor Department


Faculty Mentor

Tom Huff


legal, interpretation, discretion, Cohen, California, dworkin

Subject Categories

Constitutional Law | Ethics and Political Philosophy | First Amendment | Judges | Supreme Court of the United States


The purpose of this project is to provide a fresh and in-depth analysis of legal jurisprudence through the use of two of the most important legal theorists of our time, H. L. A. Hart and Ronald Dworkin. This project focuses on how Dworkin’s position in his famous paper “Hard Cases”, helps us understand an important Supreme Court case, Cohen v. California. Cohen will be the main focus of my project. The project will discuss the case and the possible ways of deciding the case. Then the project explains both Dworkin’s and Hart’s positions. Finally, the project will analyze how Dworkin’s position, helps solve the case and problem of legal jurisprudence exemplified by Cohen.

This project is one that I have spent both Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 researching and analyzing. I have always had a curiosity to understand what law is. In the Fall of 2019 I completed an independent study that allowed me to spend time reading Dworkin and working through the different ways to interpret legal statutes. The impact that Dworkin made on me was that there seems to be principles that help guide how judges interpret the law, but these principles are very rarely ever written down. This pushed me to go further and to research the history of why philosophers started to discuss legal interpretivist.

The significance of this topic is that it is specific to my area of study. I am a philosophy major who intends to go to law school. In order to successful undertake such a task, I need to understand the reasons that guide judicial decision makers in interpreting laws in particular ways. I believe the position Dworkin espouses allows legal scholars to go deeper to understand what exactly goes into a judicial decision. By revealing how underlying normative principles of our legal system guide legal decisions.

Honors College Research Project


GLI Capstone Project


The longer presentation of my work. Wanted to have a complete record of my senior thesis project.



© Copyright 2020 Mykaila Ashlynn Berry