When legal decision-makers like Justice Peckham, who are actually ... making a policy or political choice act as if there were no choice to be made—when they treat a policy choice as simply an exercise in knowing the plain meaning of a word—their behavior is sometimes described as formalistic. They act as if it is the form that matters, but in fact it is substance that is doing the work.
It is, to be sure, formalistic to take the literal meaning of the words “prior to December 31” in United States v. Locke as dictating a result other than what seems to be the most sensible one, because it is to treat the form of a legal rule as more important than its deeper purpose, or more important than reaching the best all-things-considered judgment in the particular context of a particular case.
Is it definition 1 or 4 or something else at http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/form?q=form? I'm guessing that the meaning of form is the same in both examples?
Also, please explain your thought processes/deductive steps, so I can try to improve doing so and need not ask here?
Source: P30, Thinking like a Lawyer, Frederick Schauer