ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Monday, October 5, 2015

Judge John Hodgman Enforces a "Contract"

This week, the The New York Times Magazine's the "The Ethicist" column is finally given over to an actual ethicist, Kwame Anthony Appiah, who is a fabulous choice.  Similarly excellent is the editors' choice to add a bonus advice column from "Judge John Hodgman" and to print said column in a font that people over 40 can read (Judge Hodgman's column used to appear on a page designed to appeal to young hipsters and to put off people who really need to just bite the bullet and use reading glasses).

I hate to disagree with so learned a judge, but I think Judge Hodgman errs in his opening opinion in the new format.   His column assesses whether a written commitment is binding.  The writing reads as follows, "I, Taylor W., will allow Cora W. to dress me as a woman this Christmas."  Judge Hodgman describes the writing as "contract," his end of which Taylor W. must uphold.  

Sorry, Judge.  I see nothing more than a gratuitous promise here.  There is no consideration.  Moreover, this seems to be a social and not a legally binding agreement.  I question whether the parties ever intended to be legally bound.  Taylor W. may be bound in foro conscientiae, but he is not bound under the law of contracts.

Commentary | Permalink


Any law student in her first month of classes would know that is not an enforceable contract! Where did Judge Hodgman get his law degree?

Posted by: Otto stockmeyer | Oct 6, 2015 6:20:51 AM

I think the judge graduated from Comedy Central.

Posted by: Jeremy Telman | Oct 6, 2015 3:49:42 PM

Post a comment

If you do not complete your comment within 15 minutes, it will be lost. For longer comments, you may want to draft them in Word or another program and then copy them into this comment box.