Saturday, April 29, 2017

Weekend Roundup

  • Legal and policy historian Wendell Pritchett has been selected as Provost at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Here's a Call for a one-year fellowship at Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Law on the history of water law in mandate Palestine/Israel. The deadline is May 15, 2017.
  •  Monday, May 1, in the Law and Public Affairs Seminar at Princeton University: A Theory of First Amendment Academic Freedom, by David Rabban, University of Texas School of Law, with a comment from Robert Post, Yale Law School.
  • Here's another amicus curae brief on the travel ban, prepared by constitutional law scholars (including several who contribute to legal and constitutional history).  H/t: LK
  • The California Supreme Court Historical Society is taking entries for its Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition.”  First prize: $2500!  More.
  • Here's the CFP for a NYU/New School workshop on Oct.7 on "Global Histories of Capital: New Perspectives on the Global South." The Call includes law as a theme of interest.The extended deadline is just a few days away--May 1, 2017. H/t: H-Sci-Med-Tech
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Friday, April 28, 2017

A New Oral History of a Career DOJ Lawyer

The Historical Society of the DC Circuit announces the posting of the latest in its excellent and important series of oral histories.  This one is of Robert Kopp, who served for forty-five years in the Appellate Section of the Civil Division of the Justice Department.  He saw it all, says the Society’s website:
Ralph Nader's lawsuits; the mass arrests of Vietnam War demonstrators; Watergate; what it was like to be at Justice after the Saturday Night Massacre when President Richard Nixon fired the special prosecutor and the top two officials of the Justice Department; and the shifting roles of civil servants and political appointees. Kopp tells of his step-father, a humble lawyer at Justice, being the only one working on the afternoon of Sunday, December 7, 1941, when the Navy called with a message: "Please tell the Attorney General that the nation is at war." And he remembers being told of President Franklin Roosevelt calling a lawyer in the Appellate Division to discuss the draft Supreme Court brief he had been sent for review. But most importantly, the oral history details how lawyers in the civil service serve the nation, doing the "nuts and bolts" as Kopp terms it, and how they preserve a coherent rule of law in the United States.

Bates on Sexual Forensics in England

Last year, we missed the publication of Sexual Forensics in Victorian and Edwardian England: Age, Crime and Consent in the Courts by Victoria Bates, University of Bristol. 

From the press, Macmillan Palgrave:
Drawing on court records from London and the South West, Sexual Forensics in Victorian and Edwardian England explores medical roles in trials for sexual offences. Its focus on sexual maturity, a more flexible concept than the legal age of consent, enables histories of sexual crime to be seen in a new light.
Here is the Table of Contents:
  • Introduction: Sex, Sexuality and Sexual Forensics
  • Knowledge: The Foundations of Forensics
  • Injury: Signs and the Sexual Body
  • Innocence: Chastity and Character
  • Consent: Violence and the Vibrating Scabbard
  • Emotions: Medicine and the Mind
  • Offenders: Lust and Labels
  • Conclusions: Medicine, Morality and the Law

You can read more about the book here.

Rosenberg's Life of Pauli Murray

You’ve read the New Yorker story and heard about the Yale residential college, now buy the book.  Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray, by Rosalind Rosenberg, Professor of History Emerita, Barnard College, is available from the Oxford University Press. 
Throughout her prodigious life, activist and lawyer Pauli Murray systematically fought against all arbitrary distinctions in society, channeling her outrage at the discrimination she faced to make America a more democratic country. In this definitive biography, Rosalind Rosenberg offers a poignant portrait of a figure who played pivotal roles in both the modern civil rights and women's movements.

A mixed-race orphan, Murray grew up in segregated North Carolina before escaping to New York, where she attended Hunter College and became a labor activist in the 1930s. When she applied to graduate school at the University of North Carolina, where her white great-great-grandfather had been a trustee, she was rejected because of her race. She went on to graduate first in her class at Howard Law School, only to be rejected for graduate study again at Harvard University this time on account of her sex. Undaunted, Murray forged a singular career in the law. In the 1950s, her legal scholarship helped Thurgood Marshall challenge segregation head-on in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.

When appointed by Eleanor Roosevelt to the President's Commission on the Status of Women in 1962, she advanced the idea of Jane Crow, arguing that the same reasons used to condemn race discrimination could be used to battle gender discrimination. In 1965, she became the first African American to earn a JSD from Yale Law School and the following year persuaded Betty Friedan to found an NAACP for women, which became NOW. In the early 1970s, Murray provided Ruth Bader Ginsburg with the argument Ginsburg used to persuade the Supreme Court that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution protects not only blacks but also women - and potentially other minority groups - from discrimination. By that time, Murray was a tenured history professor at Brandeis, a position she left to become the first black woman ordained a priest by the Episcopal Church in 1976.

Murray accomplished all this while struggling with issues of identity. She believed from childhood she was male and tried unsuccessfully to persuade doctors to give her testosterone. While she would today be identified as transgender, during her lifetime no social movement existed to support this identity. She ultimately used her private feelings of being "in-between" to publicly contend that identities are not fixed, an idea that has powered campaigns for equal rights in the United States for the past half-century.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Reconstruction at the U.S. Capitol Historical Society

[We have the following announcement.]

The U.S. Capitol Historical Society will present its annual symposium May 11 and 12 on Capitol Hill. Scholars from around the country will start to explore the post-Civil War period in “Congress Begins to Reconstruct the Nation.” The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is recommended.

Columbia University’s Eric Foner will deliver the keynote address, “The Significance of Reconstruction in American History,” on Thursday, May 11 at 6:30 pm. The keynote will be held in the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2044, and will be preceded by a reception at 6 pm.

On Friday, May 12, from 8:45 am to 4 pm, six additional speakers will cover a range of topics related to early Reconstruction. Symposium Co-Directors Paul Finkelman and Brook Thomas will both present. Other speakers include L. Diane Barnes, Spencer Crew, Lucy Salyer, and Michael Vorenberg. This day-long event will be held in the Russell Senate Office Building, Room 485.

To pre-register, click here or email your contact information to uschs@uschs.org, along with the names of any guests and the portions of the event you plan to attend. Can’t make it to the program? We’ll be live-tweeting as much as we can from @USCapHis #reconstructionhistory.

Tentative schedule after the jump.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Historians of Mormonism File Amici Brief in Hawaii v. Trump

Nineteen “scholars of American religious history and law, with special expertise and familiarity with the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” have filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the travel ban case Hawaii v. Trump in the Ninth Circuit.  As the Desert News explains, it argues that “American Mormons still endure 'pernicious consequences' created by U.S. government discrimination against them in the 1800s.”

Muir on Debt in 18th-c. Nova Scotia

This past fall, James Muir, University of Alberta, published Law, Debt, and Merchant Power: The Civil Courts of 18th Century Halifax with the University of Toronto Press. From the publisher:
Law, Debt, and Merchant Power: The Civil Courts of 18th Century HalifaxIn the early history of Halifax (1749-1766), debt litigation was extremely common. People from all classes frequently used litigation and its use in private matters was higher than almost all places in the British Empire in the 18th century.
In Law, Debt, and Merchant Power, James Muir offers an extensive analysis of the civil cases of the time as well as the reasons behind their frequency. Muir’s lively and detailed account of the individuals involved in litigation reveals a paradoxical society where debtors were also debt-collectors. Law, Debt, and Merchant Power demonstrates how important the law was for people in their business affairs and how they shaped it for their own ends.
Praise for the book:

"This book is admirably accurate about the ways the law actually worked in practice, and refreshingly careful to avoid anachronism and over-reach. Muir demonstrates an impressive knowledge of eighteenth-century judicial procedures, and he offers a persuasive analysis of colonial legal culture." -Jerry Bannister

"Law, Debt, and Merchant Power is a path breaking analysis of how civil law was used in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Muir’s meticulous analysis of civil suits illustrates how important the law was and how bourgeois merchants shaped the administration of law to their needs." -Elizabeth Mancke

“At the higher methodological level, the work both fascinates and provokes… Muir’s book is an interesting, original, and important work, part of the new wave of regional scholarship that integrates greater Nova Scotia into the history of the eighteenth-century British Atlantic.” -Barry Cahill

Full information is available here.

Schmidt Revisits Maine's "Modern Law"

Katharina Isabel Schmidt, a graduate student at Princeton and Yale, has posted Henry Maine's “Modern Law”: From Status to Contract and Back Again? which is forthcoming in the American Journal of Comparative Law:
In this Article, I conduct a long overdue assessment of Henry Maine’s “from Status to Contract” thesis in light of two essentially modern phenomena: contract standardization and relational contracting. Drawing on comparative legal history, classical sociological and anthropological literature, contemporary contract law theory, and recent works in the field of (behavioral) law and economics, I discuss the claim that modern private law is witnessing a reverse movement “from Contract to Status.” I show that this claim is historically inaccurate and conceptually simplistic in that it attributes shades of meaning to status that Maine never contemplated. I dedicate the remainder of the Article to exploring why—in the face of clear countervailing evidence—modern private law scholars continue to engage in Mainean “status”-speak. For this purpose, I tease out several interesting parallels between status as part of Maine’s theory and “status” as part of modern private law discourse.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Brophy on Slavery and Jurisprudence at Washington College and VMI

Alfred L. Brophy, University of North Carolina School of Law, has posted The Jurisprudence of Slavery, Freedom, and Union at Washington College, 1831-1861:
In the thirty years leading into Civil War faculty and students at Washington College and the Virginia Military Institute discussed ideas about adherence to Union, the legal justification of slavery, slaves’ claims to freedom, and jurisprudence. Their discussion of jurisprudence included the need for adherence to law, and the roles of morality, sentiment, and utility in law. This article draws upon public addresses, like graduation speeches, at Washington College and VMI, to recover the sophisticated legal ideas in circulation in Lexington.

Washington College was a place of Whig values of Union, adherence to law, and concern for utility. Speakers supported common Whig ideas, including the need for republican government to check excesses of democracy and a focus on the ways that a well-ordered society and respect for property and Christianity led to moral and economic progress. It also moved from a place where faculty held Enlightenment ideas about freedom – even if circumscribed by economic reality – to a place where slavery was embraced, partly because it was part of the Constitution.

By contrast, at the Virginia Military Institute, pro-slavery and pro-secession ideas were more prevalent. The constitutional visions at moderate Washington College and pro-secession institutions at more radical places, like the University of Virginia, William and Mary, and the College of Charleston, reflected the wide range of Southern ideas about Union, slavery, utility, sentiment, Republicanism, and constitutionalism. Those ideas framed the Southern response to political changes, as Southerners discussed the mandates of jurisprudence and the Constitution in the years leading into War.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Smith on the Politburo's Rule of Law Doctrine

Ewan Smith, Hertford College, University of Oxford, has posted The Rule of Law Doctrine of the Politburo:
This article charts the development of CCP doctrine on the rule of law in the formative period between the Sixteenth Party Congress in November 2002 and the Fourth Plenum of the Eighteenth Central Committee in 2014. The Plenum sought to define the role that law has to play in the constitutional order of the People’s Republic of China. It issued a Decision that revised the official account of the rule of law, so as to reconcile it with the constitutional principle of Party Leadership. This account is unlikely to be revised for the foreseeable future. The article uses the reported content of Politburo Study Sessions to shed light on the leadership’s deliberations during this period. This source has been underused in the literature on rule of law in China, which has focused more closely on the decisions of other constitutional organs, especially courts. The article explains what is to be gained by focusing on these reports, and how we can interpret them as a source of CCP doctrine. It then sets out certain key conclusions from each study session, showing how the develop over time, and how they connect together. It then compares the language used in the study sessions with the language in the Fourth Plenum Decision. It shows how the Politburo’s conception of the rule of law evolved, and concludes that the major building blocks of 4th Plenum were already immanent in the first half of Hu Jintao’s administration.

The Henry Morgenthau, Jr. Holocaust Collections at FDRL

[We have the following announcement.] 

On April 24, 2017, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum formally launched the Henry Morgenthau, Jr. Holocaust Collections: A Curatorial Project -- a pathfinding initiative to discover unique but dispersed Holocaust subject material across the Roosevelt Library's archival holdings. The project will begin by exploring three major Library collections: the Morgenthau Papers & Diaries, the Records of the War Refugee Board, and the Rudolf Vrba Papers. By introducing emerging practices from the field of digital humanities in developing the project, the Library will provide better access -- building on existing digital resources -- to these Holocaust-related records.  [More.]

The Lochner Era: An ICH Seminar

[We are moving this up because the deadline of May 1 will soon be upon us.]

The Lochner Era

Interdisciplinary Summer Workshop in Constitutional History, July 9-14, 2017, Stanford, California.  Sponsored by the Institute for Constitutional History with the Stanford Constitutional Law Center.

This seminar will examine major developments in the areas of constitutional law governing social and economic regulation in the so-called "Lochner Era," extending roughly from 1880 to 1940. The topics considered will include limitations placed upon state and federal regulatory authority by the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, the Equal Protection Clause, the Tenth Amendment, and the Dormant Commerce Clause, as well as restrictions on and changes in the scope of the federal powers to tax, to spend, and to regulate interstate commerce. Our aim will be to understand how these limitations and developments presented both obstacles and opportunities to regulatory reformers, how they constrained and shaped their legal strategies, and why they succeeded or failed in securing their regulatory objectives.

Attention also will be given to the ways in which these developments have been understood and presented by historians, political scientists, and legal scholars; to the role that the period’s jurisprudence played in shaping labor, housing, and educational markets for women and racial minorities; and to the relationship between that period’s jurisprudence and the law and political economy of our own time. The assigned readings will include Supreme Court decisions of the period and secondary works that focus on specific topics within the period.

Workshop Leader: Barry Cushman is the John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law and Concurrent Professor of History and Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.  Before coming to Notre Dame in 2012 he served for fifteen years on the faculty of the University of Virginia, where he was the James Monroe Distinguished Professor of Law and Professor of History. He has published widely on the subjects of constitutional law, political economy, and social reform during the Progressive Era and the New Deal. His book, Rethinking the New Deal Court: The Structure of a Constitutional Revolution (Oxford University Press, 1998) was awarded the American Historical Association’s Littleton-Griswold Prize in American Law and Society.

Stipends and Support:
Participants will receive accommodation at the Munger Graduate Residence on the campus of Stanford Law School and a modest stipend for meals. Participants will also receive a travel reimbursement up to $250. Workshop participants are expected to attend all sessions and engage in all program activities.

Eligibility and Application Procedure.  The summer workshop is designed for university instructors who now teach or plan to teach courses in constitutional studies, including constitutional history, constitutional law, and related subjects. Instructors who would like to devote a unit of a survey course to constitutional history are also welcome to apply. All university-level instructors are encouraged to apply, including adjuncts and part-time faculty members, and post-doctoral fellows from any academic discipline associated with constitutional studies (history, political science, law, anthropology, sociology, literary criticism, etc.).

To apply, please submit the following materials: a detailed résumé or curriculum vitae with contact information; syllabi from any undergraduate course(s) in constitutional studies you currently teach; a 500-word statement describing your interest in both constitutional studies and this workshop; and a letter of recommendation from your department chair or other professional reference (sent separately by e-mail or post). The application statement should address your professional background, any special perspectives or experiences you might bring to the workshop, and how the workshop will enhance your teaching in constitutional studies.

Deadline.  The deadline for application is May 1, 2017. Applications should be sent via electronic mail to MMarcus@nyhistory.org. Successful applicants will be notified soon thereafter.

For further information
:
Maeva Marcus
Director, Institute for Constitutional History
New-York Historical Society and
The George Washington University Law School
(202) 994-6562
MMarcus@nyhistory.org
www.nyhistory.org/ich

About ICH.  The Institute for Constitutional History (ICH) is the nation’s premier institute dedicated to ensuring that future generations of Americans understand the substance and historical development of the U.S. Constitution.  Located at the New York Historical Society and the George Washington University Law School, the Institute is co-sponsored by the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Political Science Association.  The Association of American Law Schools is a cooperating entity. ICH prepares junior scholars and college instructors to convey to their readers and students the important role the Constitution has played in shaping American society. ICH also provides a national forum for the preparation and dissemination of humanistic, interdisciplinary scholarship on American constitutional history.

Support for this seminar of the Graduate Institute for Constitutional History is provided in honor of Eric J. Wallach.  The Graduate Institute for Constitutional History is supported, in part, by the Saunders Endowment for Constitutional History and a “We the People” challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and by the Stanford Constitutional Law Center.

Zollmann on Luso-German conflict and International Law

LHB readers may have noticed a lot of new monographs on the history of international law. Among them is Naulila 1914. World War I in Angola and International Lawby Jakob Zollmann, WZB Berlin Social Science Center. From the publisher, Nomos:
Image resultIn 1885, Germany and Portugal became neighbours in Africa. The newly founded colony of German Southwest Africa prevented the southwards expansion of the ancient colony of Angola. The border along the Cunene and Kavango Rivers remained under dispute. After the outbreak of World War I in Europe, Portugal’s neutrality was questioned in German Southwest Africa, and when a group of German officials waiting near the border of Angola for food transports were shot in the Angolan fortress Naulila, a state of war between both colonies seemed inevitable. German troops launched several military reprisals against fortresses in southern Angola, most significantly against Naulila in December 1914. After their victory at Naulila, the Germans retreated to GSWA. However, African powers, most notably Kwanyama forces led by King Mandume, used the weakness of the defeated Portuguese army to expel the colonial troops from southern Angola. In 1915, a counter-offensive was launched with troops from Portugal that ended with the complete occupation of Kwanyama territories. After the war, a Luso-German arbitration procedure according to the Treaty of Versailles (1919) assessed the damages in Angola and Germany’s responsibility to pay reparations. The arbitration award of 1928 that established Germany’s responsibility for the violation of international law when attacking Naulila became a landmark case. It still holds relevance for modern international law. The final part of this book analyses the memorial culture that developed in Angola, Namibia, Germany and Portugal around the war in 1914/15.
Full information is available here

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Book Review Roundup

Happy Earth Day, all!  I've always thought that the perfect antidote to a Saturday spent in the great outdoors is a Sunday inside with some legal history.  Enjoy these book reviews and have a great weekend.

The Guardian has a short review of Catherine Merridale’s Lenin on the Train, the story of Lenin’s 1917 trip from Swiss exile to Petrograd's Finland Station, “a journey that changed the world.” (The Guardian’s longer review is here).




The Nation’s Brenda Wineapple covers Man's Better Angels: Romantic Reformers and the Coming of the Civil War, by Philip F. Gura. According to Wineapple, Gura reviews seven reformers who “were representative of a broader self-help culture of reform that spread across the United States in the years before the Civil War,” who “each scrambled after various panaceas—some of them pretty weird—to revive the country from its economic stagnation.” These reformers looked to transcendentalism, Unitarianism, and utopian farming communities. All of them “avoided any scrupulous confrontation with systemic economic or social problems,” and focused instead on “self culture.”


Paul Starobin’s Madness Rules the Hour is not about current American politics, but about “Charleston, 1860 and the Mania for War.” According to the Times, the book is a “finely drawn portrait” of the city’s elite in the years before secession, extending from John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry in October 1859 to the fateful Secession Convention in late December 1860 that took South Carolina out of the Union. The same publication covers A Rabble of Dead Money, The Great Crash and the Global Depression: 1929-1939, Charles R. Morris’s “popular but rigorous” economic history of the Great Depression. Kahlil Gibran Muhammad also reviews two books about race and the criminal justice system: James Forman Jr.’s Locking Up our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, “a masterly account of how a generation of black elected officials wrestled with recurring crises of violence and drug use in the nation’s capital,” and Chris Hayes’s A Colony in a Nation, which grows from Hayes’s coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests in Ferguson.

In the NYRB, Christopher R. Browning reviews Volker Ullrich’s Hitler: Ascent 1889–1939, which addresses Hitler’s young adulthood and his relationship with the conservative elites who, hoping for a level of control over populist power, helped him to power in the 1930s. Browning also embarks on an expected--but fairly nuanced--comparison of Hitler and Trump: “Both men defied old norms and invented unprecedented ways of waging their political campaigns. Both men developed a charismatic relationship with their “base” that centered on large rallies. Both emphasized their “outsider” status and railed against the establishment, privileged elites, and corrupt special interests.”  In the same publication, Jeremy Waldron reviews Akhil Reed Amar’s The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era, which argues that the “Constitution has to be both timeless and timely.”

In the Times Literary Supplement, one can read about Philip Roessler and Harry Verhoeven’s Why Comrades go to War: Liberation politics and the outbreak of Africa’s deadliest conflict, which covers Congo’s history of “mass violence, protracted wars, chronic misrule and endless plunder.”

Robert K. Landers reviewsRichard Nixon: The Life” by John A. Farrell, which begins with a take on judicial supremacy: “Obeying the courts, Nixon desegregated public schools. He got little credit for it—and didn’t want any. He wanted Southerners’ votes.” One can also read about Nina Sankovitch’s The Lowells of Massachusetts, a “stirring saga of a New England family whose fortunes steadily progressed with that of the Bay Colony from its early settlement to modern times.”

You can find some legal history titles in the Federal Lawyer, where Elizabeth Kelley reviews Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, by Heather Ann Thompson.


On New Books Network, listen to coverage of Susanna Blumenthal’s Law and the Modern Mind: Consciousness and Responsibility in American Legal Culture, which offers a “historical examination of the jurisprudence of insanity, legal capacity, and accountability from post-revolutionary America through the nineteenth century.” You can also listen to interviews with Mark P. Bradley, whose The World Reimagined: Americans and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century describes “‘human rights talk’ entered American political and diplomatic culture, and the direction it’s headed,” and James Q. Whitman’s Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law, which probes the relationship between Jim Crow laws and the Nuremberg Laws. Want more? The Network plays some golden oldies as well: listen to an interview with Lizbeth Cohen about Making A New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 was originally published in 1990.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Weekend Roundup

  • "Who among us," asks Richard Murphy, Texas Tech University School of Law, over at Notice & Comment Blog, "does not occasionally enjoy a forgotten nineteenth-century Supreme Court decision adopting a super-powerful form of deference that leaves our dear friend Chevron in the dust?"  The case in question is Peabody v. Stark, 83 U.S. 240 (1872).
  • The editors of State Crime invite papers for a special issue on State Crime and Colonialism The “special issue seeks to explore the relationships between state crime and colonialism. This includes the historical experiences of European colonialism and empire; settler colonialism and its ongoing impacts on Indigenous peoples; and the continuities of colonial violence."  H/t: Legal Scholarship Blog
  • Stephen D. Solomon spoke yesterday at the Lewes (DL) Public Library on his book Revolutionary Dissent: How the Founding Generation Created the Freedom of Speech (St. Martin's Press, 2016).
  • ICYMI: A newly discovered parchment of the Declaration of Independence: did James Wilson had it inscribed?  Also, from the Washington Post: "Grappling with its history of slavery, Georgetown gathers descendants for a day of repentance."
  • Wanted: Citizen Historians to transcribe legal historical manuscripts at the UVA Law Library.
  • Daniel Platt, Brown University, for receiving the OAH’s Louis Pelzer Memorial Award, given  for the best essay in American history by a graduate student, for “Usury Reform and the Natures of Capital in the Progressive Era."  H/t: SB.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Kennington on St. Louis Freedom Suits

Just out with the University of Georgia Press is In the Shadow of Dred Scott: St. Louis Freedom Suits and the Legal Culture of Slavery in Antebellum America by Kelly M. Kennington, Auburn University. The book is part of the Early American Places book series. From the publisher:

The Dred Scott suit for freedom, argues Kelly M. Kennington, was merely 
the most famous example of a phenomenon that was more widespread in antebellum American jurisprudence than is generally recognized. The author draws on the case files of more than three hundred enslaved individuals who, like Dred Scott and his family, sued for freedom in the local legal arena of St. Louis. Her findings open new perspectives on the legal culture of slavery and the negotiated processes involved in freedom suits. As a gateway to the American West, a major port on both the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and a focal point in the rancorous national debate over slavery’s expansion, St. Louis was an ideal place for enslaved individuals to challenge the legal systems and, by extension, the social systems that held them in forced servitude.
 Kennington offers an in-depth look at how daily interactions, webs of relationships, and arguments presented in court shaped and reshaped legal debates and public attitudes over slavery and freedom in St. Louis. Kennington also surveys more than eight hundred state supreme court freedom suits from around the United States to situate the St. Louis example in a broader context. Although white enslavers dominated the antebellum legal system in St. Louis and throughout the slaveholding states, that fact did not mean that the system ignored the concerns of the subordinated groups who made up the bulk of the American population. By looking at a particular example of one group’s encounters with the law—and placing these suits into conversation with similar encounters that arose in appellate cases nationwide—Kennington sheds light on the ways in which the law responded to the demands of a variety of actors.

Further information is available here.

New Exhibit at the HLS Library: Kids in the Collection: Prison, Work, and Play

HLS Professor Paul Freund, Costumed as a Baker (credit)
[We have the following announcement.]  The Harvard Law School Library’s Historical & Special Collections is pleased to announce a new exhibit: "Kids in the Collection: Prison, Work, and Play."

Most of our material is rooted in the world of adults, but children do appear in ways both light-hearted and grim. Traces of childhood experiences appear in HLS faculty papers, school report cards, and letters sent home from camp; broadsides reveal violent crimes against children; reports detail the inner workings of a Massachusetts reform school; and images show toddlers raised in prison by their incarcerated mothers in nineteenth- century England. Also showcased is some of the work undertaken by HLS students and faculty on behalf of children and families in Massachusetts and across the United States. The exhibit draws on a variety of media: manuscript collections, printed works, photographs, and children’s art work, spanning the late-eighteenth through twentieth centuries.

"Kids in the Collection" was curated by Jane Kelly and Mary Person of Historical & Special Collections. It will be on view daily 9 to 5 in the Caspersen Room, Langdell Hall, from April through July 2017. See highlights [here.]

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Steiker and Steiker on the History of the Supreme Court and the Death Penalty

Here's a book from late last year that we failed to notice until now: Courting Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment (Harvard University Press), by Carol S. Steiker (Harvard Law School) and Jordan M. Steiker (University of Texas School of Law). A description from the Press:
Unique among Western democracies in refusing to eradicate the death penalty, the United States has attempted instead to reform and rationalize state death penalty practices through federal constitutional law. Courting Death traces the unusual and distinctive history of top-down judicial regulation of capital punishment under the Constitution and its unanticipated consequences for our time.

In the 1960s and 1970s, in the face of widespread abolition of the death penalty around the world, provisions for capital punishment that had long fallen under the purview of the states were challenged in federal courts. The U.S. Supreme Court intervened in two landmark decisions, first by constitutionally invalidating the death penalty in Furman v. Georgia (1972) on the grounds that it was capricious and discriminatory, followed four years later by restoring it in Gregg v. Georgia (1976). Since then, by neither retaining capital punishment in unfettered form nor abolishing it outright, the Supreme Court has created a complex regulatory apparatus that has brought executions in many states to a halt, while also failing to address the problems that led the Court to intervene in the first place.
While execution chambers remain active in several states, constitutional regulation has contributed to the death penalty’s new fragility. In the next decade or two, Carol Steiker and Jordan Steiker argue, the fate of the American death penalty is likely to be sealed by this failed judicial experiment. Courting Death illuminates both the promise and pitfalls of constitutional regulation of contentious social issues.
One of many blurbs:
Courting Death is a brilliant and insightful book with a powerful thesis, namely that the death penalty in the United States has been unwittingly regulated to death. It is the most forceful and significant intervention I have read on the question of capital punishment to date, a remarkable contribution to our legal, historical, and political debates.—Bernard E. Harcourt
More information, including the TOC, is available here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rossi on Insurance Law in Elizabethan England

Guido Rossi, University of Edinburgh, has published Insurance in Elizabeth England: The London Code with Cambridge University Press in its “Cambridge Studies in English Legal History” series. From the press:

Insurance in Elizabethan EnglandEnglish insurance came into being almost entirely during the Elizabethan period. However, the Great Fire of 1666 consumed most of London's mercantile document, and therefore little is known about early English insurance. Using new archival material, this study provides the first in-depth analysis of early English insurance. It focuses on a crucial yet little-known text, the London Insurance Code of the early 1580s, and shows how London insurance customs were first imported from Italy, then influenced by the Dutch, and finally shaped in a systematic fashion in that Insurance Code. The London Insurance Code was in turn heavily influenced by coeval continental codes. This deep influence attests the strong links between English and European insurance, and questions the common/civil law divide on the history of commercial law.

Here is the Table of Contents:

1. Introduction

Part I. Legal-Historical Background:

2. Some remarks on the origins of English insurance
3. Insurance in late sixteenth-century England

Part II. The London Code:

4. Preamble: sea-carriage and averages
5. The making of the London Code
6. Object of Insurance
7. Premium
8. The parties
9. Risks
10. Ship and voyage
11. Recovery
12. Abandonment to the insurers
13. Reinsurance
14. Life insurance

Concluding remarks.

Full information is available here.

Roy and Swamy, "Law and the Economy in Colonial India"

We missed this one when it came out last fall: Law and the Economy in Colonial India (University of Chicago Press, 2016), by Tirthankar Roy (London School of Economics) and Anand V. Swamy (Williams College). A description from the Press:
Since the economic reforms of the 1990s, India’s economy has grown rapidly. To sustain growth and foreign investment over the long run requires a well-developed legal infrastructure for conducting business, including cheap and reliable contract enforcement and secure property rights. But it’s widely acknowledged that India’s legal infrastructure is in urgent need of reform, plagued by problems, including slow enforcement of contracts and land laws that differ from state to state. How has this situation arisen, and what can boost business confidence and encourage long-run economic growth?
       
Tirthankar Roy and Anand V. Swamy trace the beginnings of the current Indian legal system to the years of British colonial rule. They show how India inherited an elaborate legal system from the British colonial administration, which incorporated elements from both British Common Law and indigenous institutions. In the case of property law, especially as it applied to agricultural land, indigenous laws and local political expediency were more influential in law-making than concepts borrowed from European legal theory. Conversely, with commercial law, there was considerable borrowing from Europe. In all cases, the British struggled with limited capacity to enforce their laws and an insufficient knowledge of the enormous diversity and differentiation within Indian society. A disorderly body of laws, not conducive to production and trade, evolved over time. Roy and Swamy’s careful analysis not only sheds new light on the development of legal institutions in India, but also offers insights for India and other emerging countries through a look at what fosters the types of institutions that are key to economic growth.
A few blurbs:
“Although colonial institutions have been blamed for wealth and poverty around the world, no one has analyzed how they developed over the entire history of colony—no one, that is, until Roy and Swamy. Their novel research in Law and the Economy in Colonial India lays bare the political and administrative problems that shaped the evolution of Indian legal institutions, with major economic consequences that persist to this day.” -- Philip T. Hoffman
“Indian civil courts are notorious for a backlog of cases and a slow process of dispute resolution—arguably a major retardant to India’s economic growth. Yet, at the same time, Indian courts draw upon British legal origins, particularly the common law, which has been credited for being relatively responsive and flexible to contractual needs in cross-country comparison. By incorporating cutting-edge concepts and debates in the economic literature on law and development with a rich historical discussion of the law in the Indian context, Roy and Swamy go a long way toward explaining this paradox. This is an interesting and well-written work on a very important topic.” -- Saumitra Jha
More information is available here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Woodring on Shakespeare and Sanctuary Cities

Benjamin Woodring, who holds a PhD from Harvard and a JD from Yale and is currently clerking for a federal judge, has posted Liberty to Misread: Sanctuary and Possibility in The Comedy of Errors, which appears in the Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities 28 (2016): 319 et seq.:
Today’s hotly contested debates about “sanctuary cities” would feel very familiar to someone living in Shakespeare’s London. In this piece, which is part of a larger forthcoming book project titled Shakespeare’s Sanctuary Cities, I argue that Shakespeare is fascinated by the dramatic possibilities inherent in an asylum space situated on the fault line of a jurisdictional battle. A refuge site sits between life and death. At the same time, Elizabethan sanctuary was a contradictory swirl of concepts: something both holy and debauched, something at the same time archaic and unpredictably present. Shakespeare’s use of a sanctuary in The Comedy of Errors is not a simple endorsement of Christian mercy. It is rather a deeper reflection on genre and possibility: comedy is predicated on some escape valve from accumulating conflicts and obligations, while tragedy is ultimately insulated from such releases. Shakespeare creates an asylum episode in this play different from anything in Plautus or Gower, his main sources. The abbey, which jealously defends its sanctuary rights, is a space allowing for recognition and reintegration after long sequences of confusion and chaos. But it is also, I argue, a site for further potential misreadings. The sanctuary in Shakespeare’s play does not provide perfect resolutions. The sanctuary’s Abbess arguably bungles the play’s moral. But in the end, this imperfection is not only vastly preferable to tragedy’s irreversible misunderstandings, it is also a sign of Shakespeare’s nuanced unpacking of a generative social and spatial concept still lingering in the streets of London.

Thompson Wins Hurst Prize; Seo Wins Dissertation Prize

The Law and Society Association has announced its prizewinners for 2017 in advance of its annual meeting in Mexico City in June.  The recipient of the J. Willard Hurst Award, for the best book in Socio-Legal History published in 2016 is Heather Thompson, University of Michigan, for Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy  (Pantheon Books, 2016).  Here is the citation:
In Blood in the Water, Heather Thompson offers a searing account of the infamous 1971 Attica Prison uprising. In addition to reconstructing the protest and its violent aftermath, she traces the decades-long quest for justice by the victims of state violence. In doing so, she incorporates the voices and perspective of all the participants, rendering with equal power the voices and perspectives of prisoners, former hostages, families of the victims, lawyers, judges, state officials and law enforcement officers. The result is a rich account of law, policy, administration, legal consciousness, lawyering, legal process and truth, racial inequality, and communities that form around legal wrongs and lawsuits. Blood in the Water is a civil rights story that illuminates the epochal shift from rehabilitation to mass incarceration. It challenges readers to reckon with an abusive prison system and the persistent failures and lies of state officials.

An extraordinary feat of archival research distinguishes Blood in the Water. Thompson's brilliance lies in unearthing sources on the Attica prison riot that have never before been discovered, read, or analyzed. That research required not only more than a decade of effort, but persistence in the face of obstruction and restriction, and some lucky breaks. The payoff is new material on almost every facet of the uprising and its aftermath.

Blood in the Water stands out also as a powerful piece of writing. Thompson's prose is masterful and her storytelling is stunning. She succeeds in weaving together multiple voices, and restoring the humanity of the men, ordinary, poor and disfranchised, whose refusal to endure abuse and stay silent had seen them demonized. The epilogue is particularly powerful, serving to remind us that the lessons of Attica have yet to be fully learned. Her book will go a long way towards achieving this important goal.
Honorable mentions went to Risa Goluboff for Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change, and the Making of the 1960s (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Michelle McKinley for Fractional Freedoms: Slavery, Intimacy, and Legal Mobilization in Colonial Lima, 1600-1700 (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

The Society's prize for the dissertation that best represents outstanding work in law and society research in 2016 went to Sarah Seo, Princeton University, for “The Fourth Amendment, Cars, and Freedom in Twentieth Century America.”  It was nominated by Hendrik Hartog, Princeton University.  Here is the citation:
Sarah Seo's dissertation is an imaginative and beautifully written study of how the advent of cars on American roadways presented new challenges for policing, while it altered conventional notions of freedom and ultimately resulted in a new legal doctrine around Fourth Amendment guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure. Through meticulous attention to a wide range of primary-source materials and extensive examination of court decisions, Seo shows that the new technology of the automobile changed expectations of mobility and freedom, while at the same time destabilizing notions of private space and regulatory authority. Seo skillfully traces the way that these new realities shaped the development of legal doctrine and catalyzed a shift towards proceduralism in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. In showing the links between technology, police practices, and legal change, Seo challenges long-standing explanations of the Warren Court's due process revolution. The selection committee was impressed with the creativity of the study, the quality of the data that was marshaled, the intellectual depth of the argument, and the elegance of the prose. Seo's dissertation makes a significant contribution to the literature on the Fourth Amendment and U.S. legal change more broadly.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Brockman-Hawe on an international justice experiment in Boxer China

Independent scholar Ben Brockman-Hawe has posted “Accounting for ‘Crimes Against the Laws of Humanity’ in Boxer China: An Experiment with International Justice at Paoting.” The article appears in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law 38:2, 627-713. Here’s an extended abstract:
The birth of international criminal law is typically traced to the post-war prosecutions of Nazi and Japanese war criminals by the Allied powers, when in fact the Great Powers frequently turned to internationalized criminal or quasi criminal forums, as well as the rhetoric of ‘humanity’ and ‘civilization,’ to project power, establish narratives, manage public opinion, express dissatisfaction, and defend humanitarian values in the century after the Napoleonic wars. That these stories have been relegated to a narrative hinterland belies the important role each played in establishing vocabulary for international criminal law and shaping expectations of accountability. The purpose of this paper is to restore one such significant but unexplored caesure; the trial of four Chinese officials before an ‘International Commission’ by the Great Powers in the wake of the inter-religious violence that characterized the Boxer Uprising.
Although the Commission has recently received some attention by a few dedicated historians, it has so far escaped close scrutiny within the international criminal law community. Accordingly, a number of questions about the trial have remained unanswered. What actually happened at Paoting-Fu? Was it fair? Why did this operation, unlike others, result in an international criminal trial? What meaning did the trial have for the belligerents and the communities they represented? What consequences did the trial have for the development of international criminal law?
Drawing on previously unexplored material from state archives, published and unpublished missionary correspondence and military memoirs, and contemporaneous press reports, this paper addresses these questions in four parts. Part 2 of this article first sets the scene by briefly describing the state of the armed conflict in October 1900, then recounts the story of the Commission’s day-to-day operation, culminating in the execution of three Chinese officials. Part 3 sets the trial in its legal, cultural and strategic context, positioning it as an event framed by, among other factors, the concomitant coherence of international criminal law and a shift in thinking about the role of collective punishment in war. Part 4 highlights how the relevant constituencies viewed the trials, and traces the influence of this seminal experiment with individual accountability for international crimes on later efforts to create an international jurisdiction to try the Kaiser in the wake of the First World War. Finally, Part 5 explores the judicial character and fairness of the Commission.

Moyn on FDR's (and Sunstein's) "Second Bill of Rights"

Samuel Moyn, Harvard University, has posted The Second Bill of Rights: A Reconsideration:
This paper revisits the so-called "Second Bill of Rights," proposed in passing in Franklin Delano Roosevelt's State of the Union address for 1944. Contrary to a well-known earlier appraisal of the speech that elevated it to far more significance than it had in its time, the paper argues that the "second bill" for economic and social entitlements matters primarily because it marked the death-knell of hopes for the reform of American market capitalism. It was not just that it came at the end of a war that hardly reached American soil, and thus confirmed the country's divergence from the European path to the welfare state, nor that the American war economy had ratified the unique role of business interests in circumventing the otherwise transatlantically victorious planning state. Rather, with its late timing the speech simultaneously memorialized and truncated the egalitarian and institutionalist approaches to market relations that had made the earlier phases of the New Deal genuinely significant. The paper ends its reconsideration of the speech by examining the politics of its neoliberal reclamation by Cass Sunstein, who shared neither the egalitarian nor the institutionalist aspirations of the New Deal, but could rally to a "second bill" because it anticipated a politics of minimalist judicial enforcement he was then separately championing.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Weekend Round Up

  • “Many college students head for the beach or perhaps to a city with a lively night life for spring break. The students in Joe Kobylka’s honors seminar on the Supreme Court had a strikingly different kind of destination this year: the Library of Congress. The students traveled from Southern Methodist University in Dallas to spend the week of March 13 in the Manuscript Division examining the papers of Supreme Court justices.”  More on Library of Congress Blog.
  •  ICYMI: My Georgetown Law colleague Lawrence Solum's series of posts stating the case for originalism has concluded on his Legal Theory Blog.  Eugene Kontorovich, Borthwestern Law, explains why George Washington was the first president to stay in the real estate business.  Fake news and Elinor Roosevelt in wartime America, by Joshua Zeitz in Politico. (H/t Brendan Kearny)
  • New York Public Library Digitizes 137 Years of New York City Directories.  Here.
  • An unusual summer school course, "Memory and Law: Legal Perspective in Historical Assessments," is on offer for junior scholars from Poland, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine (19-27 Aug. 2017). The deadline for applications is May 5, 2017. Full information here.
  • Save the date: A one-day conference on "Islamic law and its implementation in Asia and the Middle East" will be held at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law in London on Oct.6, 2017. Watch this website for the program, which may include historical work. (H/t: Pluri-legal)
  • Don't forget that the deadline for the "Traffic in women" and International Law Call for Articles is today (April 15). See our earlier post here.
  Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ho on Law as Instrumentality

Jeremiah A. Ho, University of Massachusetts School of Law, has posted Law As Instrumentality, which is forthcoming in the Marquette Law Review:
Our conceptions of law affect how we objectify the law and ultimately how we study it. Despite a century’s worth of theoretical progress in American law—from legal realism to critical legal studies movements and postmodernism—the formalist conception of “law as science,” as promulgated by Christopher Langdell at Harvard Law School in the late-nineteenth century, still influences methodologies in American legal education. Subsequent movements of legal thought, however, have revealed that the law is neither scientific nor “objective” in the way the Langdellian formalists once envisioned. After all, the Langdellian scientific objectivity of law itself reflected the dominant class, gender, power, and race of its nineteenth-century progenitors. Thus, by sustaining the illusion of scientific objectivity, the continued application of Langdellian pedagogy distorts our understandings of law and abridges individual explorations of pluralism, subjectivity, justice, and empowerment. Such inaccurate but prevailing notions of neutrality in law leads to both disenchantment and hierarchy in practice, but, worse, it also distracts from meanings of law that would otherwise have led to empowerment and critique. In this way, legal scholars have clamored for a post-Langdellian legal conception to enable us to reach more relevant and emboldened meanings in law.

Prompted by such calls amidst the post-Recession crisis in the American legal academy, this Article offers such a new conception for theorizing meanings in law by locating law within its instrumentalities. “Law as instrumentality” obtains meaning by accepting law’s fragmentation and then observing, from fragmentation, the characteristics of its agency. The law is not a science; but it does embody human-made qualities of agency. This new instrumentality conception studies law’s deliberate aesthetics as a way to explore law ontologically and critique its goals, its devices, its intentions, its significances, and its teleologies. From this conception, a broader methodology can arise to bring about a more relevant and empowering understanding of law to those who render law to life.

Finkelman on Originalism and the Second Amendment

Paul Finkelman, University of Pittsburgh, School of Law, has posted The Living Constitution and the Second Amendment: Poor History, False Originalism, and a Very Confused Court, which appeared in the Cardozo Law Review 37 (2015): 623-662:
The article explores the use of history and originalism in Second Amendment jurisprudence. The article argues that in both District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) the Court bases its conclusions on a false history that is, for the most part, a fantasy of the majority of the Court and opponents of reasonable firearms regulation. The Court majority relies on “scholars” who have often been funded by the National Rifle Association (NRA) or worked for the NRA, but hide these connections when offering their work to law reviews. While claiming to root its opinions in history, the Court is unconcerned that virtually all of the serious historical scholarship on the Founding undermines its analysis. The Court weaves a history of the Second Amendment that is based on books and articles that are accurately described as “[l]aw office history,” which is often sloppy and inaccurate in its facts, and sometimes mindless in its analysis. While the majority Justices profess to believe in a jurisprudence of original intent, the Court’s historical analysis could not get a passing grade in any serious college history course.

Pre-1870 Copyright Records at GW's Burns Law Library

[We have the following announcement.]  The Jacob Burns Law Library is pleased to announce a new online collection: "Pre-1870 Copyright Records." The collection provides access to over 2,000 pages of digitized U.S. copyright records created prior to 1870 that had generally been assumed lost. The records were tracked down and digitized by Zvi S. Rosen, currently a Professorial Lecturer in Law and Visiting Scholar at The George Washington University Law School. Rosen received his LLM in Intellectual Property in 2006 from the Law School and later served as the 2015-2016 Abraham L. Kaminstein Scholar in Residence at the U.S. Copyright Office.

According to Rosen, "until mid-1870, copyright registration duties were handled by the local U.S. District Court of the author or proprietor, while the work itself was deposited with the Department of State (until 1846), Library of Congress (1846-1859, 1865-1870), Smithsonian Institution (concurrently 1846-1859), and Patent Office (1859-1865, 1865-1870 concurrently). In 1870, all copyright responsibilities were centralized in the Library of Congress."

Rosen notes that "for New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, whose District Courts together handled 85% of copyright activity before 1870, the Library of Congress has a complete or essentially complete set of the records. However, for many jurisdictions with a comparatively small volume of copyright activity, records may only exist for the years immediately before 1870, if at all."  The fact that so many Federal Court records had apparently gone missing perplexed him, and he set about to discover what had happened.

Rosen says that his "ultimate hope is that the Rare Book Room of the Library of Congress will digitize their holdings of pre-1870 copyright records . . . and, when combined with this project, will represent an essentially complete record of copyright (and thus literary, musical, etc.) activity in America  in its earliest days."

The Pre-1870 Copyright Records collection is available here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Crow, "Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection"

A fitting announcement on Thomas Jefferson's birthday: Cambridge University Press has released Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection (March 2017), by Matthew Crow (Hobart and William Smith Colleges). Here's a description from the Press:
In this innovative book, historian Matthew Crow unpacks the legal and political thought of Thomas Jefferson as a tool for thinking about constitutional transformation, settler colonialism, and race and civic identity in the era of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson's practices of reading, writing, and collecting legal history grew out of broader histories of early modern empire and political thought. As a result of the peculiar ways in which he theorized and experienced the imperial crisis and revolutionary constitutionalism, Jefferson came to understand a republican constitution as requiring a textual, material culture of law shared by citizens with the cultivated capacity to participate in such a culture. At the center of the story in Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection, Crow concludes, we find legal history as a mode of organizing and governing collective memory, and as a way of instituting a particular form of legal subjectivity.
A few blurbs:
'Matthew Crow's book is a dazzling achievement, deepening and expanding our understanding of Jefferson's conception of the meaning of his (and his nation's) past. Not only does it place his struggles with slavery and nationhood in his own time and place, but it provides the present with a cautionary guide to the self-reflection required of all citizens.' -- David Konig
'Matthew Crow’s new book is a beautiful exploration of the shifts in Thomas Jefferson’s thought. Crow gives not only a powerful account of Jefferson’s philosophical understanding of civic membership but also the psychology of his republicanism. This is a remarkable effort of intellectual reconstruction and an essential contribution to scholarship on the early American republic.' -- Aziz Rana
More information is available here.

Chin and Ormonde on Infamous Misdemeanors and the Grand Jury Clause

Gabriel "Jack" Chin and John Ormonde, respectively, a professor and student at the University of California, Davis School of Law, have posted Infamous Misdemeanors and the Grand Jury Clause, which is forthcoming in volume 102 of the Minnesota Law Review:
Under an overlooked body of constitutional law, many more federal offenses must be prosecuted by grand jury indictment than is now the practice. Current rules provide that felonies must be prosecuted by grand jury indictment, but misdemeanor charges may be based on a prosecutor’s information, or even a “ticket” issued by a law enforcement officer. However, serious consequences fall on people convicted of federal misdemeanors, including deportation, sex offender or other criminal registration, ineligibility for public benefits, and loss of civil rights. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the Supreme Court held in a series of cases, never overruled, that to charge an infamous misdemeanor required a grand jury indictment. The Court held that infamous offenses were ones potentially resulting in stigmatizing punishments degrading the offender’s status, indicating that the person is less than a full member of the community. These include corporal punishment, incarceration in a prison or penitentiary (as opposed to a jail), loss of civil rights or imposition of civil disabilities, and convictions implying moral turpitude. Many federal misdemeanors carry these consequences. And federal misdemeanors are much more likely to be dismissed without trial than felonies. More thoughtful evaluation of misdemeanor cases before charge would often terminate cases which wind up being dismissed after charge. As a result, thousands of Americans would avoid the stigma of a criminal record where it is unwarranted. This is what the framers of the Constitution intended.

Brockman-Hawe on Bismark's Proposed International Criminal Court

Ben Brockman-Hawe, an independent scholar, has posted Punishing Warmongers for Their 'Mad and Criminal Projects' - Bismarck's Proposal for an International Criminal Court to Assign Responsibility for the Franco-Prussian War, which appeared in volume 52 of the Tulsa Law Review:
The idea of punishing aggressive war is routinely presented as having been first conceived of in the wake of the First World War. This conventional narrative is incorrect; the intellectual seed for the project had begun to take root long before, in the reactions to the interstate conflicts of the nineteenth century. This article explores one of the most significant moments from aggression’s unappreciated ‘pre-history’; Chancellor Bismarck’s pursuit of a trial before an international criminal court of the Franco-Prussian War’s (1870-1) French ‘intellectual originators and instigators.’ Although the proposal ultimately failed to attract the political and public support necessary for its implementation, it prompted in its own time an unprecedented discussion on the viability of international criminal responsibility for aggression and international criminal courts. The proposal later took on new life as both a precedent and an anti-precedent as these ideas resurfaced periodically after 1870.

The goal of this paper is to restore Bismarck’s proposal to its rightful place in the story of the crime’s development. At stake is more than historic fidelity; contemporary expectations of what international criminal law can accomplish, what circumstances should or could accompany international criminal law’s invocation, and what the parameters of the crime of aggression should be are shaped by such histories. As the 2010 Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute are now a single accession away from accumulating the requisite number of ratifications to come into effect, raising the prospect that the International Criminal Court will imminently be tasked with adjudicating the first aggression case in over seventy years, the need for reflection on these issues has taken on unusual salience.

CFP: ASLH Student Research Colloquium

The American Society for Legal History will host a Student Research Colloquium (SRC) on Wednesday, October 25, and Thursday, October 26, 2017, immediately preceding the ASLH's annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The SRC enables a small number of Ph.D. students and law students to discuss their in-progress dissertations and law review articles with distinguished ASLH-affiliated scholars. 

The SRC's target audience includes early-post-coursework graduate students and historically minded law students.  The colloquium seeks to introduce such students to legal history, to each other, to the ASLH, and to the legal-historical scholarly community generally.  Students working in all chronological and geographical fields are encouraged to apply, as are students whose projects engage legal-historical themes but who have not yet received any formal training in legal history.  Applicants who have not had an opportunity to present their work at ASLH annual meetings or who have not otherwise had an opportunity to discuss their work with legal historians are particularly encouraged to apply.  A student may be on the program for the annual meeting and participate in the SRC in the same year.

Each participating student will pre-circulate a twenty-page, double-spaced, footnoted paper to the entire group.  The group will discuss these papers at the colloquium, under the guidance of two faculty directors.  The ASLH will provide at least partial and, in most cases, total reimbursement for travel, hotel, and conference-registration costs. 

The application deadline is July 15, 2017.  Applicants should submit (1) a cover letter; (2)  a CV; (3) a two-page, single-spaced "research statement," describing an in-progress project; and (4) a letter of recommendation from a faculty member, sent separately from, or together with, the other materials.

Organizers will notify all applicants of their decisions by August 15, 2017.  Please direct questions and applications to John Wertheimer at srcproposals@aslh.net.