Thursday, May 14, 2009

Blackman on Justice Harlan, Professor of Law

Linda Przybyszewski used Justice John Marshall Harlan’s lectures on Constitutional Law at what is now the George Washington University to great effect in The Republic According to John Marshall Harlan (University of North Carolina Press, 1999). Now Josh Blackman, George Mason University School of Law, has posted the paper Justice John Marshall Harlan, Professor of Law. Here is the abstract:
Justice John Marshall Harlan taught at Columbian University, which later became George Washington University from approximately 1891-1910. He primarily lectured in Constitutional Law, but also taught personal property law, torts, conflicts of law, jurisprudence of the United States, domestic relations, commercial law, evidence, and perhaps others. During the 1897-98 academic year, one of his students, George Johannes, transcribed verbatim twenty-seven lectures Justice Harlan gave on the Constitution. In 1955, Johannes sent the transcripts to the second Justice John Harlan. The papers were ultimately deposited in the Library of Congress. In large part, historians have neglected these lecture notes. After thoroughly reviewing approximately 500 pages of Justice Harlan’s lecture notes and other papers, I seek to explore Justice Harlan’s role as a teacher, as an inspiration to his students, and as a faculty member.

Justice Harlan’s experiences at Columbia University are very revealing of his jurisprudential philosophy, his pedagogical approach, as well as his personal beliefs. In this paper, I will explore these concepts through the prism of his lecture notes, interspersing contemporary newspaper clippings, personal correspondences with Justice Harlan, as well as weaving in relevant Supreme Court opinions he wrote. I seek to use these lecture notes, a veritable treasure trove of insights into one of the greatest Constitutional Law scholars of the late 19th century, to paint a picture of who Justice Harlan was, what he believed, and how he sought to impart that knowledge on the future lawyers of America.
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