Legal Formalism

Definition - What does Legal Formalism mean?

Legal formalism is a school of thought that believes that legal rules should be enforced regardless of current social or political activity or views.

Legal formalism is an alternative to legal realism, which takes the opposite stance. According to legal formalism, once the laws are created, they should be enforced objectively.

Justipedia explains Legal Formalism

Legal formalism is the more traditional and hard-lined of the two different schools of thought. The basic goal of legal formalism is to make sure that judges simply apply the existing laws to the facts of the case and to make sure that biases do not impact how the case is tried or how the verdict is determined.

Many judges agree with the principles of legal formalism. However, there is some debate about whether or not legal realism is a better option.

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