marianne constable is professor of rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, where she specializes in the interdisciplinary study of law. Her books include The Law of the Other (1994), winner of the Hurst Prize in Legal History; Just Silences (2004); and Our Word Is Our Bond (2014).
The use of the saying “Actions speak louder than words” renders problematic both political and legal judgments. With its often excruciating attention to language, law in particular insists on maintaining relations between speech and reality or between words and the truths that they promise in the action of speaking. In the context of President Trump’s repudiation of words, claims that actions speak louder than words threaten the possibilities of law, insofar as law relies on language.