The Snuggies Case

Have you ever seen any of those cheesy infomercials for Snuggies? (Check out the YouTube clip below, if you like to watch low-budget ads. Snuggies are wearable fleece coverings, i.e. blankets with sleeves.) As a matter of tax law, is a Snuggie more like a blanket or more like a garment? (Blankets are subject to a lower import tax than articles of clothing are.) The United States Court of International Trade recently decided this close question, ruling that Snuggies are blankets for import tax purposes. But generally speaking, aside from the authority of legal tribunals, what makes a court decision in a close case “right” as a matter of law? In science, theories are “right” only if they are supported by evidence and if they are subjected to rigorous and repeatable tests. In politics, the majority decides what is “right” via elections and other political mechanisms. So, what makes a legal conclusion or a legal theory “right”, aside from the normative preferences or subjective hunches (i.e. personal views) of judges? Bonus question: What about ethical dilemmas? How should we decide between right and wrong in the domain of ethics?

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8 Responses to The Snuggies Case

  1. Craig says:

    The Snuggie case seems to be an instance of “judgement of the gaps” where, if only the lawmakers had more precisely declared what constituted an article of clothing, the judicial process of explicating this might have been avoided. But it is folly to head down this road — laws seem to be made as if situations were integers, while behavior takes place on the real-number line.

  2. Luanne says:

    Is clothing something you put on and wear while you are active? Where a blanket is where you are more inactive?

  3. Pingback: Snuggies Are Blankets, Not Garments, For Tax Purposes - Eric Allen Kauk

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