Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cromwell Dissertation Prize to Weinrib

Via H-Law we have word that at last week’s meeting of the American Society for Legal History, the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation’s Dissertation Prize for 2012 went to “The Liberal Compromise: Civil Liberties, Labor, and the Limits of State Power, 1917-1940,” by Laura M. Weinrib, who completed it at Princeton University.  Professor Weinrib is now a member of the law faculty at the University of Chicago.  Here is the citation:
In this gracefully written, deeply researched and incisively presented study, Laura Weinrib offers a sophisticated account of how the current American conception of civil liberties emerged. The study rests not only on a sure command of the secondary sources but on a careful examination of the papers of the ACLU--in particular its early records and those of its predecessor organization--between the two World Wars. Weinrib demonstrates how an initial theory of civil liberties, aligned with a commitment to labor radicalism and a "right of agitation" by the working-class, gradually developed into a commitment to a politically neutral protection of the civil rights of each individual as embodied in the Bill of Rights. Weinrib traces this transformation through a series of contested organizational shifts during the 1920s and 1930s and shows how this evolving vision of civil liberties shaped the post-New Deal constitutional order and left a legacy far different from earlier understandings.
An honorable mention was awarded to “From Slave to Litigant: African Americans in Court in the Post-War South, 1865-1920,” by Melissa Milewski, New York University.

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