Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Johnston on Segregation and the DC Federal Courthouse

James H. Johnston, a lawyer, writer, and lecturer in Washington D.C., has just published Segregation in the Federal Courthouse in Washington D.C. Before and After Brown v. Topeka Board in the Howard Law Journal.  To borrow from the introduction of this thoroughly researched article:
Attempts to eliminate the [DC Bar] Association’s whites-only policy [including access to its library] began in 1950 and included seven proposed votes by members, two lawsuits trying to integrate the Bar, two lawsuits trying to block integration, three court of appeals opinions, one federal district court opinion, and several dead cats before integration was achieved in 1958.   The judiciary hardly distinguished itself. All but one of the federal judges hearing the lawsuits held honorary memberships in the segregated Association.  And, two legal titans involved in settling [African American lawyer Huver]  Brown’s original complaint [seeking access to the library in 1939], Robert Jackson and E. Barrett Prettyman, revisited the constitutionality of segregation in the 1950s as Supreme Court justice and Court of Appeals judge in the school cases. Both seemed to forget the precedent set in the library case. Court of Appeals Judge Prettyman saw nothing wrong with segregated schools in Washington, D.C.  Supreme Court Justice Jackson struggled with the same issue before joining a unanimous Court in the landmark desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

CFP: Encounters, Rights, and Sovereignty in the Iberian Empires

[Via H-Law, we have the following announcement.]

The Call For Papers is now open for the International Conference “Encounters, Rights, and Sovereignty in the Iberian empires, 15th-19th centuries."  Focused on the colonial encounters fostered by the Iberian empire-building processes and on the strategies developed to regulate the rights and lives of native and colonial populations, this conference welcomes proposals that privilege the comparisons and interactions between the Portuguese and Spanish colonizing dynamics, in a timeframe spanning from the early stages of the Iberian colonization to the first outbreaks of independence.

Topics may include, but are not limited to: Colonization models and empire-building strategies; Representations of native populations; Race relations and debates on race; Juridical regulations of colonial interactions; Colonial origins of human rights; Integration/ exclusion of native populations within colonial societies; Missionaries as political and cultural brokers; Active and passive dynamics of resistance; Political communication and circulation of information; Trade and commercial interactions; Portuguese and Spanish written cultures regarding colonial endeavours; Scales of power: centres versus peripheries; Violence and justice; Borders and frontiers.  [More.]

Bowie to Join HLS Faculty

[From Harvard Law School News.]

Nikolas Bowie
, a scholar of constitutional law, local government law, and legal history, will join the Harvard Law School faculty as an assistant professor in July. Bowie currently holds the Reginald Lewis Law Teaching Fellowship at HLS and is a Ph.D. candidate in history at Harvard University. Last year, he held the Berger-Howe Legal History Fellowship at HLS. His research focuses on the constitutional status of cities, corporations, and related institutions.

“Niko Bowie is a talented legal scholar and historian whose work has already deepened our understanding of the ways historical conceptions of the corporation have structured American constitutionalism, freedom of speech, local government law, and other important areas of law,” said John Manning, dean of Harvard Law School. “He will enrich our students with his broad range, his depth of insight, and the passion he brings to the study of law and the areas in which he will teach and write. We are thrilled that he is joining the Harvard Law School faculty.”

Bowie’s dissertation, “Corporate America: A History of Corporate Statehood Since 1629,” examines the relationship between corporations and constitutions from the seventeenth-century Massachusetts Bay Company to the present. The central theme is how Americans have understood corporations as forms of government that require democratic methods of political accountability.  Later this year, the Law and History Review will publish an article derived from the dissertation about a 1978 referendum in which the city of Boston claimed the same First Amendment right as business corporations to spend millions of dollars influencing voters.  [More.]

[Incidentally, we'd be very pleased to announce the hiring of other legal historians once it becomes public knowledge--if someone involved would let us know!]

AHA 2018: "Loyalties"

[We have the following Call for Papers for next year’s annual meeting of the American Historical Association.  Deadline: Midnight PST on February 15, 2018. ]

"Loyalties": The 133rd Annual Meeting Theme and Call for Papers
Mary Beth Norton, Claire Bond Potter, and Brian W. Ogilvie,

Loyalty and disloyalty are forms of human attachment often associated with the history of politics. Yet loyalties function on multiple levels. Individually, or in groups, humans commit themselves to communities, loved ones, principles, a leader, a nation, a religion, an ideology, or an identity. Loyalties stabilize human society, undergird political and social hierarchies, promote courage and cowardice, disguise ethical lapses, and generate revolutions. The determination to maintain old loyalties or devise new ones can become a foundation for building nations, waging war, transforming and imagining new forms of human community, or defending institutions that maintain traditional ways of life.

Loyalties require communication, ritual, and imagery. They can be hegemonic or the outcome of powerful shifts in popular consciousness. Loyalties can also be disseminated through the propagation of ideas, or take the form of nostalgia, distracting from contemporary problems or complexities. Whether social, cultural, religious, economic, or political, loyalties can conceive a path to a utopian future, identifying those who are an impediment to that future as disloyal or as permanently loyal to an outsider group. Divided loyalties might also pose a problem: At what point, for example, can loyalty to party, faith, or community overwhelm loyalty to the nation?

We are interested in proposals that compare questions of conflicting or changing loyalties across time, space, and human experience—whether religious, ethnic, gendered, national, or otherwise—and how they have shaped trajectories of change. After a revolution, opponents of the new regime are often faced with a choice between swearing allegiance—thus betraying the values and leaders to whom they had promised loyalty—and imprisonment, exile, or execution. In contrast to such formal public dilemmas, loyalties that regulate private life can involve forms of expectation and obedience that are often unspoken, generationally specific, or resisted as archaic.

Charles's "Armed in America"

Patrick J. Charles has published Armed in America: A History of Gun Rights from Colonial Militias to Concealed Carry with Prometheus Books:
This illuminating study traces the transformation of the right to arms from its inception in English and colonial American law to today's impassioned gun-control debate. As historian and legal scholar Patrick J. Charles shows, what the right to arms means to Americans, as well as what it legally protects, has changed drastically since its first appearance in the 1689 Declaration of Rights.

Armed in America explores how and why the right to arms transformed at different points in history. The right was initially meant to serve as a parliamentary right of resistance, yet by the ratification of the Second Amendment in 1791 the right had become indispensably intertwined with civic republicanism. As the United States progressed into the 19th century the right continued to change--this time away from civic republicanism and towards the individual-right understanding that is known today, albeit with the important caveat that the right could be severely restricted by the government's police power.

Throughout the 20th century this understanding of the right remained the predominant view. But working behind the scenes was the beginnings of the gun-rights movement--a movement that was started in the early 20th century through the collective efforts of sporting magazine editors and was eventually commandeered by the National Rifle Association to become the gun-rights movement known today.

Readers looking to sort through the shrill rhetoric surrounding the current gun debate and arrive at an informed understanding of the legal and historical development of the right to arms will find this book to be an invaluable resource.
The author will be discussing the book at the National Constitution Center on February 5.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Schrader Reviews Harring's "Policing a Class Society"

Stuart Schrader, a Fellow in Crime and Punishment at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University, has published a three-part review of Sidney L. Harring's Policing a Class Society: The Experience of American Cities, 1865–1915, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017) , in Legal Form: A Forum for Marxist Analysis of Law.  The posts are here, here, and here.  H/t: Patrick O'Donnell.

Chapman on Milton & early modern law

Alison A. Chapman, University of Alabama at Birmingham, has published The Legal Epic: Paradise Lost and the Early Modern Law with the University of Chicago Press. From the publisher:
The seventeenth century saw some of the most important jurisprudential changes in England’s history, yet the period has been largely overlooked in the rich field of literature and law. Helping to fill this gap, The Legal Epic is the first book to situate the great poet and polemicist John Milton at the center of late seventeenth-century legal history. 
Alison A. Chapman argues that Milton’s Paradise Lost sits at the apex of the early modern period’s long fascination with law and judicial processes. Milton’s world saw law and religion as linked disciplines and thought therefore that in different ways, both law and religion should reflect the will of God. Throughout Paradise Lost, Milton invites his readers to judge actions using not only reason and conscience but also core principles of early modern jurisprudence. Law thus informs Milton’s attempt to “justify the ways of God to men” and points readers toward the types of legal justice that should prevail on earth. 
Adding to the growing interest in the cultural history of law, The Legal Epic shows that England’s preeminent epic poem is also a sustained reflection on the role law plays in human society.
Praise for the book:

“This is a terrific piece of scholarship. Chapman makes a very strong case for Milton's intimate familiarity with English and Continental law; his commitment to a natural law position that insisted upon the fundamental connection among human law, right reason, and divine law; and the relevance of legal concepts to Paradise LostThe Legal Epic will fundamentally change how we read Milton's poem.” –Debora K. Shuger

“Chapman’s excellent study of Paradise Lost as a ‘legal epic’ raises the bar. She defamiliarizes the poem by demonstrating just how much it is interpenetrated by Milton’s self-confident and precise understanding of daily legal practice. Urging us to remember that he was the son of a scrivener and the brother of a judge, her book reveals a Milton whose profound sense of contingency and God’s grace never obscures his imaginative engagement with the intricacies of the law.” –Paul Stevens

“More deeply than any other study, The Legal Epic illuminates the ways Milton creatively employs and transforms the language and principles of early modern law in Paradise Lost.  Chapman persuasively shows that understanding Milton’s use of legal language and concepts in relation to theology is crucial to understanding his poetic theodicy.  This interdisciplinary book is a major contribution to Milton studies and to the study of early modern literature and law.  An outstanding achievement.” –David Loewenstein

Further details are available here

Balancing a new job

Writing today’s post, I am acutely aware of how often I failed in my struggle to achieve balance in the various requirements of a new tenure-track job: teaching, research, and service (and in some cases, outreach or administration). So LHB readers, you might want to take any advice offered here with a snicker or a grain of salt. I do hope that my struggles might result in some useful insights for those of you facing a similar challenge. 

I started my job teaching at Auburn in the fall of 2010.  My first semester involved two large (200 students in each) sections of World History I (from the dawn of time to the 18th century!) and a 13-student graduate seminar in Southern History.  Prior to starting my position, my independent teaching experience consisted of a 9-student summer U.S. survey and a 7-student senior writing seminar in my research area, both at Duke. 

To say I was unprepared for what awaited me in my new job is an understatement. My first semester was crushing—I was nervous, overwhelmed, out of my league. My research and writing seemed like a distant memory. My manuscript was one final, impossibly large task on my never-ending to-do list. I never forgot about it, but I also never got around to doing much research or writing. Luckily Auburn kept my service load pretty light. I was on one department committee, but it didn’t require much time.

I have no magic solution to the craziness of the first year of teaching. I do have a few words of advice that I followed as best I could. Much of this advice still applies to my regular challenges of balancing my workload.

My first point could (and should!) be repeated in all of my posts on the struggle to achieve any type of balance. First and foremost, be willing to forgive yourself and let things go when you fall short of your expectations. Even the people who seem the most on top of things sometimes—or often—miss the mark. Lawyers, professors, and grad students are usually highly motivated people. But the tenure-track asks a lot of new professors, and sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. Dwelling on what you have not managed to accomplish or what you wish you had done does you no good. Forgiveness and moving on are how I get through most of my days.

A strong support system is another element that allowed me to adjust to the new faculty workload. I was fortunate enough to start my job at the same time as another history faculty member. We became fast friends. We spent many late nights in the office together, and made plenty of fast food runs as we logged long hours to get the lectures written, the reading done, and the emails answered. She has remained a source of advice, encouragement, and commiseration over the years, as our workloads have only gotten heavier.

If you don’t make that kind of instant connection in your department—or even if you do—finding people outside of your department is helpful, too. Look for opportunities to mingle with other faculty and make new connections. Orientation, college/school functions, or groups connected to particular hobbies or interests can all help one meet faculty outside of your department. My partner Kevin was also a big help with my home workload, as the dishes and laundry piled up. He continues to provide enormous support, both with housework and also listening and helping me sort out my challenges. Like many academics, I now have family and friends spread all over the country. Regular phone calls to friends and family members can be a huge help in coping with the stress of the first year.

Here’s some advice I wish I had followed: when you start teaching, less is more. Less reading can still make for great discussion. Shorter writing assignments allow for more quality feedback and focus on skill practice for your students.  Keep lectures to outlines, unless you’re teaching something completely outside of your comfort zone, as many of us do sometimes. You don’t have to be great at all of it right away. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is an amazing teacher. There will be hiccups along the way. Your best bet is to innovate and experiment a little at a time to see what works best in your new job with a new population of students.  For me, teaching is always about experimenting and being open to adjustments.

Seek advice from senior colleagues when you can. At Auburn, our department has a strong tradition of sharing syllabi for ideas and regularly discussing teaching issues as they arise. Finding a trusted colleague who has been there a while to approach with questions is an invaluable asset. Our department does not have a formal mentoring program for new faculty, but if possible, seek out these kinds of opportunities to learn from others’ experiences and get to know the department culture.

I have read lots of advice about making time for research.  This advice includes scheduling regular research and writing time, getting up early to write, and prioritizing writing before you begin you class prep and meetings.  I’ve never been great about this balance, but I continue to try. (More on some of my strategies in the next post.) One of my goals for 2018 is to make regular time every week for research and writing, even if it’s not a lot of time. No guarantee that I’ll be able to make that a reality. But I do believe that the best practice for balancing writing with a heavy teaching load is to make it a regular part of your schedule.  A bit more on this after the jump break.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday Book Review Roundup

In The New York Times is a review of the anthology A Time to Stir: Columbia '68edited by Paul Cronin.

Linda Gordon's The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition and Felix Harcourt's Ku Klux Kulture: America and the Klan in the 1920s are reviewed in an essay in The New Republic.

In the Los Angeles Review of Books is a review of Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America by Merve Emre.  The new edition of Corey Robin's The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump is also reviewed.  And also on the site is a review of Samantha Barbas' Newsworthy: The Supreme Court Battle over Privacy and Press Freedom.

A number of relevant interviews have been posted at the New Books Network.  Susan Smith-Peter discusses her Imagining Russian Regions: Subnational Identity and Civil Society in Nineteenth-Century Russia.  Gregory Laski speaks about his Untimely Democracy: The Politics of Progress after SlaveryStephen Craft is interviewed about his American Justice in Taiwan: The 1957 Riots and Cold War Foreign PolicyLisa Brooks introduces her Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s WarFinally, Adam Mestyan discusses his Arab Patriotism: The Ideology and Culture of Power in Late Ottoman Egypt

In The Times Literary Supplement is a review of Maya Jasanoff's The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World.  Also reviewed is The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization by Martin Puchner.

Gerard Magliocca's The Heart of the Constitution: How the Bill of Rights became the Bill of Rights is reviewed in The Washington Post.  Also in the Post is a review of The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam by Max Boot.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Weekend Roundup

  • "On Sunday, Jan. 21 at 4:30 p.m., Greenwich Library partners with the Yale Alumni Association of Greenwich to bring Yale Professor Rohit De to Greenwich Library. De will discuss India’s Living Constitution. The event will be held in the Library’s Cole Auditorium.”  H/t: Greenwich Sentinel.  
  • The Historical Society of the DC Circuit has announced the opening, twenty years after his death, of its oral history of Charles R. Richey (1923-1997), a Nixon appointee, in 1971, to the US District Court for the District of Columbia.  The Association of Trial Lawyers of America named him Outstanding Federal Trial Judge in 1979.  According to the Historical Society website, “Poverty shaped him....  His parents were so poor that the best they could afford for Christmas was a used basketball. In his first year at Case Western Reserve Law School, he worked five jobs, including at a funeral home, to make ends meet. He only took courses whose books he could afford.”  Judge Richey's oral history is available here.
  • Michael Stolleis has posted an appreciation of Marie Theres Fögen, a Romanist and Byzantine legal historian who edited Rechtshistorisches Journal and directed the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History.
  • Over at Concurring Opinions, Ronald K. L. Collins devotes one of his First Amendment News posts to legal history, including Leonard Levy, Murray Gurfein, and Gilbert Roe.
  • C-SPAN will air two panels sponsored by the National History Center at the recently concludied annual meet of the American Historical Association, “History and Public Policy Centers” and “Documenting the History of the First Federal Congress.”  Check here for listings.
  • Stanford Law turns 125 this year.  Here's news of the celebration.
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Malveaux on the Civil Rights Roots of the Modern Class Action Rule

Suzette M. Malveaux, Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, has posted The Modern Class Action Rule: Its Civil Rights Roots and Relevance Today, which appears in the Kansas Law Review 66 (2017): 325-396:
The modern class action rule recently turned fifty years old — a golden anniversary. However, this milestone is marred by an increase in hate crimes, violence and discrimination. Ironically, the rule is marking its anniversary within a similarly tumultuous environment as its birth — the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. This irony calls into question whether this critical aggregation device is functioning as the drafters intended. This article makes three contributions.

First, the article unearths the rule’s rich history, revealing how the rule was designed in 1966 to enable structural reform and broad injunctive relief in civil rights cases. The article tells the story of how the drafters were united in creating a rule that would enable litigants to respond effectively to the fierce resistance to desegregation following the seminal Brown v. Board of Education decision. They deliberately crafted a rule to address desegregation obstructionism.

Second, the article examines the seminal role the modern class action rule has played in the private enforcement of statutory and Constitutional civil rights. The article analyzes Supreme Court jurisprudence interpreting Rule 23(b)(2) over the course of the last fifty years, identifying three primary periods in which the pendulum has swung: from a heyday of liberal class certification for broad injunctive relief for newly created rights; to a heightened critique and retraction of class certification; to a complex gauntlet of contemporary barriers.

Finally, the article critiques modern class action jurisprudence and concludes that it fails to sufficiently fulfill the drafters’ intent of creating an efficient and just procedural mechanism for challenging systemic inequality. The article urges a contemporary judicial interpretation that honors Rule 23(b)(2)’s strong civil rights mission.
H/t: Legal Theory Blog

Lee on the "Natural Born Citizen"

Thomas H. Lee, Fordham University School of Law, has posted Natural Born Citizen, which appears in the American University Law Review 67 (2017): 327-411:
Article II of the U.S. Constitution states that a person must be a "natural born Citizen " to be eligible to be President. This Article surveys relevant evidence and explains what the phrase likely meant when the Constitution was adopted between 1787 and 1789. The phrase at the time encompassed three categories of persons: (1) persons born within the United States; (2) persons born outside of the United States to U.S. citizens in government service; and (3) persons born outside of the United States to U.S. citizen fathers who had resided in the United States but went abroad temporarily for a private purpose, like merchants who traveled on business. This definition corresponded with contemporaneous English law understandings of "natural born subjects," the natural law birthright principles of jus soli (the law of soil) and jus sanguinis (the law of blood or parentage), and the law of nations-the key jurisprudential sources consulted by Americans on matters of citizenship in the late eighteenth-century world order. This novel interpretation of the original meaning of "natural born Citizen" departs from the conventional wisdom that the phrase refers to a person who is a citizen under the U.S. naturalization statutes in effect at the person's birth, a view recently espoused by two former Solicitors General of the United States, Paul Clement and Neal Katyal. My interpretation also differs from the leading alternative view of the original meaning of the phrase, namely that it refers to persons born in the United States or outside of the United States to U.S. officials only. A brief conclusion explores the implications of the recovered original meaning of "natural born Citizen "for presidential eligibility today.
Here’s Professor Lee’s chattier version, in the discursive style of Facebook:
It's taken me a couple of years, but it's finally done and published. Everything you ever wanted to know about why the US Constitution requires a “natural born Citizen” to be President. It starts with a monumental 14th century English statute with a Latin love-song title--“De Natis Ultra Mare”; John Jay's July 25,1787 letter to George Washington; Alex Hamilton's August 10, 1787 motion at the Constitutional Convention which Jimmy Madison vigorously seconded; a 1784 Maryland statute making the Marquis de Lafayette “and his male heirs forever” starting with George Washington Lafayette natural born citizens; the 1790 Naturalization Act--it's all in there, and more. There are convention debates about why we want immigrants, why we don't, foreign influence on the selection of the US President, and what it all means today. If you want to skip the first 85 pages, here is the last sentence: “Words, after all, are only as perfect as their creators, and so is our written Constitution.”

An Essay Collection on "Florida's Other Courts"

The University Press of Florida has published Florida's Other Courts: Unconventional Justice in the Sunshine State, edited by Robert M. Jarvis, professor of law at Nova Southeastern University.
Pushing past the conventional understanding of federal and state courts and the judicial system, this volume examines eight little-known Florida courts. Part 1 details general jurisdiction courts from 1513 to 1865 while part 2 profiles modern-era special jurisdiction courts.  
Beginning with the state's colonial history, Florida's Other Courts challenges narratives that paint Spain's administration of its New World holdings as corrupt, inefficient, and tyrannical, using research into archival records scattered across Spain, Cuba, and other New World sites. Contributors to the volume also demonstrate how British authorities later molded the courts after their own justice system, introducing grand juries, jury trials, and the positions of chief justice and attorney general. Examining the changes instituted under General Andrew Jackson while Florida was a U.S. territory reveals a shift toward American sensibilities, though progress was slowed by clashes with Congress over funding and questions regarding the limits of self-rule. Under the Confederate Constitution, after the state seceded, the courts were in disarray and military commanders would even ignore court orders.

Today, Florida is still home to alternative forms of tribunals. Military courts have played an important role in the state's criminal justice system, but significant differences--from terminology to the role of the jury--exist between these courts and their civilian counterparts. Religious courts are also plentiful in the state, including Baptist, Jewish, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic courts, which provide adherents with a forum for resolving business and marital disputes.

In a state that is so culturally diverse, mainstream courts often fail specific subgroups, especially racial minorities, leaving them no choice but to create their own dispute resolution processes. From 1950 to 1963, Miami was home to the Negro Municipal Court, which remains America's only all-black court. The Miccosukee and Seminole Indian tribes also have established their own judicial systems. While the Miccosukee court relies heavily on customary law and is closed to outsiders, the Seminole court has been designed to resemble the state courts, with trial and appellate judges, a court clerk, and a bar association.

Featuring extensive notes and an index of court cases, this volume offers a new and compelling look at the development of justice in Florida.
TOC after the jump.

Professor of Legal History (Zurich)

[We have the following announcement.]

The University of Zurich invites applications for the position of Professor in Legal History (Succession Prof. Marcel Senn) starting  fall term 2019 (1 August 2019).

The holder of the professorship will represent the academic discipline of Legal History (broadly conceived). The successful candidate will contribute to the delivery of high quality teaching on undergraduate and post-graduate programmes, and to engage in world-leading and internationally recognised research. A published research record of international distinction within the field of legal history is required. This will be demonstrated by an outstanding doctoral thesis and a habilitation thesis or equivalent research publications. Ideally, the research focus should be on early modern and/or modern European Legal History, with possible topics including Swiss, comparative or global legal history. Scholarly experience in a doctrinal legal discipline is not strictly required but highly appreciated. For applicants without a background in Swiss Law, a willingness to become familiar with it is expected.

The successful candidate will be expected to be an active contributor to the wider academic community through journal editorships, appointments to research councils and other public bodies, leadership of professional organisations, and fostering links with institutions beyond higher education.  Depending on the candidate’s qualification aa full or extraordinary professorship could be awarded. For candidates who are still engaged in a habilitation project, an appointment as assistant professor with tenure track cis an option. the University of Zurich explicitly invites duly qualified junior researchers to submit their application.

As the University of Zurich aims to increase the percentage of women working in teaching and research positions, duly qualified women are encouraged to apply. Applicants whose native language is not German must be willing to familiarize themselves with the German language.

Applications should include a CV, a list of publications and presentations as well as a teaching portfolio  to be sent by regular mail to the following address: University of Zurich, Faculty of Law, Dean's Office, Rämistrasse 74/2, CH-8001 Zurich

The closing date for applications is March 14th, 2018. Submission of publications and research papers may be requested at a later stage.

For further information please contact Prof. Dr. Andreas Thier (

Details regarding the job requirements are available [here].

CFP: Monarchy and Modernity, 1500-1945

[We have the following Call. Deadline: 15 June 2018]
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University of Cambridge
8-9 January, 2019

Europe’s past is overwhelmingly monarchical, yet the monarchies that remained in place at the end of the Second World War hardly resembled those that governed Europe at the end of the Middle Ages. Modernity transformed monarchy from a matter of fact into one of opinion, and enabled moving from a world where everything was sacred to one where all was profane. If words, then, remained the same – along with many of the families, their properties and places of residence – their meaning changed profoundly overtime and across countries. This is so much so that, along the centuries, European monarchy as an institution seems unrecognisable to any attentive observer. Even so, the present academic literature seldom measures the distance between monarchy’s various historical meanings and manifestations.

Read more after the jump.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Taft, Hughes and the Travails of Progressivism: An ICH Seminar

[Not to belabor the point, but the deadline for registering for this seminar, to be led by Your Humble Blogger and Jonathan Lurie, is this Saturday, January 20.  Last chance!]

The Institute for Constitutional History is pleased to announce another seminar for advanced graduate students and junior faculty, “William Howard Taft and Charles Evans Hughes; the Travails and Contradictions of Progressivism within the Law: 1908-1941.”
Between them, Taft and Hughes served as Governor (H),
Governor General (T); Circuit Court Judge (T), Secretary of War (T), President (T), Supreme Court Justice (H), Nominee for the Presidency (H), Secretary of State (H), Chief Justice (T), Chief Justice (H), and this list is not complete.  It indicates, however, the impressive scope of their accomplishments.  In 1916, Taft had called himself a "progressive Conservative," while in 1935, the Taft's biographer noted of his successor that as Chief Justice, Hughes had "ruled against capital, against labor, against the farmer and for the farmer, against Congress and for Congress, against the president and for him."  Hughes' biographer described him as "an old fashioned progressive."  Alpheus Thomas Mason wrote that "Hughes's mind was singularly devoid of ideological content or commitment."  How had progressivism been transformed during their careers?  To what extent were both jurists "independent of rigid ideology?"  This seminar seeks to explore these questions through books, articles, and discussion.

Bessler's "Celebrated Marquis"

John D. Bessler’s new book, The Celebrated Marquis: An Italian Noble and the Making of the Modern World (Carolina Academic Press), is now available for pre-order on Amazon.
During the Enlightenment, a now little-known Italian marquis, while in his mid-twenties as a member of a small Milanese salon, the Academy of Fists, wrote a book that was destined to change the world. Published anonymously in 1764 as Dei delitti e delle pene, and quickly translated into French and then into English as On Crimes and Punishments, the runaway bestseller argued against torture, capital punishment, and religious intolerance. Written by Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794), an economist and recent law graduate of the University of Pavia, On Crimes and Punishments sought clear and egalitarian laws, better public education, and milder punishments. Translated into all of the major European languages, Beccaria’s book led to the end of the Ancien Régime
Praised by Voltaire and the French philosophes, Beccaria was toasted in Paris in 1766 for his literary achievement, and his book—though banned by the Inquisition and placed on the Catholic Church’s Index of Forbidden Books—was lauded by monarchs and revolutionaries alike. Among its admirers were the French Encyclopédistes; Prussia’s Frederick the Great; Russia’s enlightened czarina, Catherine II; members of the Habsburg dynasty; the English jurist Sir William Blackstone; the utilitarian penal reformer Jeremy Bentham; and American revolutionaries John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. On Crimes and Punishments, decrying tyranny and arbitrariness and advocating for equality of treatment under the law, helped to catalyze the American and French Revolutions. In 1774, on the cusp of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress explicitly hailed Beccaria as “the celebrated marquis.” 
Called the “Italian Adam Smith” for his pioneering work as an economist in Milan, Cesare Beccaria—like his Italian mentor, Pietro Verri—wrote about pleasure and pain, economic theory, and maximizing people’s happiness. Once a household name throughout Europe and the Americas, Beccaria taught economics before the appearance of Smith’s The Wealth of Nations but died in obscurity after working for decades as a civil servant in Austria’s Habsburg Empire. As a public councilor, Beccaria pushed for social and economic justice, monetary and legal reform, conservation of natural resources, and even inspired France’s adoption of the metric system. In The Celebrated Marquis, award-winning author John Bessler tells the story of the history of economics and of how Beccaria’s ideas shaped the American Declaration of Independence, constitutions and laws around the globe, and the modern world in which we live.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ernst on the Campaign for a Federal Legal Service

With so many of the preconditions of liberal democracy in the United States under attack from the Trump Administration and its enablers, I was moved to consider what my ongoing research into New Deal lawyers might say about one institutional defender of the rule of law, the American legal profession.  The light I can shed falls mainly on lawyers in the federal government.  Like all professionals, they risk having their assertions of authority dismissed as the self-serving claims of a narrow elite.  Because they work within the state, they are also likely to be accused of harboring partisan motives or advancing a political ideology at odds with the will of the people. 

In an article published on-line today in the American Journal of Legal History, I tell what happened when New Dealers attempted to make their own notion of professional merit the principle for hiring and promotion in a “federal legal service.”  Spoiler alert: They failed, which is why you probably never heard of the episode (unless you encountered it on two pages of Jerold Auerbach’s Unequal Justice).  Because the politics of the late New Deal and World War II are not the politics of today, analogizing from the New Dealers’ campaign to our present predicament is not straightforward.  That said, I has a few implications for today’s defenders of the professional authority of government lawyers.  First, they ought to mobilize the legal profession as a whole by giving its members a stake in the process.  Second, their notion of professional merit should be flexible enough to accommodate the variety of tasks government lawyers perform.  Third, a strategy that requires the affirmative support of Congress presents obstacles more easily circumvented by proceeding agency by agency, within what Willard Hurst once called the executive “prerogative.”

The article is “In a Democracy We Should Distribute the Lawyers”: The Campaign for a Federal Legal Service, 1933-1945.  Here is the abstract:
Felix Frankfurter (LC)
To build its many unprecedented bureaucracies, the American New Deal heavily relied upon recent graduates of elite law schools, in a break with prior practice and to the increasing annoyance of congressmen and senators. To head off an attempt to entrust the selection of government lawyers to the Civil Service Commission, in January 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed a committee, chaired by Stanley Reed and including two other Supreme Court Justices, Felix Frankfurter and Frank Murphy, to study the question. In April 1941, he accepted the recommendation of the lawyers on the “Reed Committee” and created the Board of Legal Examiners, headed by Solicitor General Francis Biddle (soon replaced by Charles Fahy) and managed during its first, crucial year by Herbert Wechsler, who was on leave from the Columbia Law School. As conceived especially by Frankfurter, the Board’s mission was to create an American counterpart to the British Civil Service, in which lawyers advanced to increasingly important posts throughout the executive branch. Although wartime conditions hampered the Board, it administered a national exam that provided greater access to government jobs than had the New Deal’s version of an “old boys network,” which drew heavily upon the law faculties of Harvard, Columbia, and Yale. Congressional hostility persisted, however, and was joined by the opposition of a powerful veterans’ lobby. The Board’s response to this pressure is instructive for a time when government lawyers and other professionals are being denounced as members of an anti-democratic Deep State.

CFP on Ottoman Law

[We were interpreted to see the following posting on H-Turk from Amir Toft, Research Scholar in Law and Islamic Law and Civilization Research Fellow at the Yale Law School.]

Dear Ottomanist Colleagues,

I would like to put together a panel on Ottoman law for one or more of the 2018 conferences listed [here.]. Depending on interest and feasibility, we can decide to submit versions to each one to fit the thematic or disciplinary focus. I will not say here exactly what I would like this panel to look like because that depends on the panel's composition. I will just mention my and a few possible thematic lines along which to run.

My research is generally interested in understanding how classical Islamic jurisprudence was received by Ottoman jurists and expressed through Ottoman legal institutions—in other words, how the law turns into legal system. My dissertation focuses on homicide in post-Süleymanic Istanbul. I look at court registers (and other archival material) but aso heavily at works of substantive and procedural Islamic law written by Ottoman (or Ottoman-era) jurists. Much of what I study, then, is less how Ottoman jurists practiced law so much as as what they said about their practice of law.

Possible themes for a panel include: 1) Ottoman criminal law; 2) Ottoman treatises on judicial practice, political sovereignty, and other legal matters; 3) comparative judicial practice between capital and provinces, between cities, between city and country, etc.; 4) state-employed versus state-independent jurists.

If you have something to present and are interested in putting a panel together, please write me at I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Amir Toft

2018 LSI Annual Graduate Student Paper Competition

[We have the following announcement. Deadline: March 1, 2018]

Image result for "Law and social inquiry"The editors of Law & Social Inquiry are pleased to announce our annual competition for the best journal-length paper in the field of law and social science written by a graduate or law student. Law & Social Inquiry publishes empirical and theoretical studies of sociolegal processes from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Entries will be accepted starting January 1, 2018 and must be received by March 1, 2018.

LSI invites direct submissions from graduate and law students and nominations of student work from faculty. The author must be a graduate student or law student at the time the paper was written and when submitted. Faculty nominations should include a short description along with the paper and contact details for the student. Submissions will be evaluated by our editors.  The winning submission will be sent to selected scholars for advisory reviews to aid with revisions prior to publication. All submissions (direct and faculty nominated) are weighted equally in the competition. The winning paper will be published in Law & Social Inquiry and the author(s) will receive a total cash prize of $500 (US).

Please send your article as a Microsoft Word document or PDF to  Please indicate that (1) you intend to be considered in the competition, (2) you are currently a graduate student, and (3) you have not submitted your article to other journals for publication. Submission is limited to one paper per student; articles may not be altered or resubmitted with corrections once they have been received by our office.

Submissions must include a title page with a mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number. The second page should include a 100-150 word abstract. Beginning on the third page, all pages should be paginated.  Text, footnotes, endnotes, and references should be double-spaced in Times New Roman 12 point font and have 1” margins on all sides with no headers or footers.  Submissions must not exceed 15,000 words, including references and footnotes.

Questions regarding the competition can be directed to Willa Sachs: 988-6517. 

Finkelman's "Supreme Injustice"

Paul Finkelman, the new President of Gratz College, has published Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court, with the Harvard University Press:
The three most important Supreme Court Justices before the Civil War—Chief Justices John Marshall and Roger B. Taney and Associate Justice Joseph Story—upheld the institution of slavery in ruling after ruling. These opinions cast a shadow over the Court and the legacies of these men, but historians have rarely delved deeply into the personal and political ideas and motivations they held. In Supreme Injustice, the distinguished legal historian Paul Finkelman establishes an authoritative account of each justice’s proslavery position, the reasoning behind his opposition to black freedom, and the incentives created by circumstances in his private life.

Finkelman uses census data and other sources to reveal that Justice Marshall aggressively bought and sold slaves throughout his lifetime—a fact that biographers have ignored. Justice Story never owned slaves and condemned slavery while riding circuit, and yet on the high court he remained silent on slave trade cases and ruled against blacks who sued for freedom. Although Justice Taney freed many of his own slaves, he zealously and consistently opposed black freedom, arguing in Dred Scott that free blacks had no Constitutional rights and that slave owners could move slaves into the Western territories. Finkelman situates this infamous holding within a solid record of support for slavery and hostility to free blacks.

Supreme Injustice boldly documents the entanglements that alienated three major justices from America’s founding ideals and embedded racism ever deeper in American civic life.
Here are two endorsements:

    “Paul Finkelman is by any account one of our leading historians of American slavery and the law. His incontrovertible and startling findings about the involvement of Justice Marshall in slave owning and selling, and Justice Story’s pro-slavery decision in Prigg v. Pennsylvania, are essential reading for anyone interested in American constitutional development in the antebellum era and its enduring influence on American law and society.”—Sanford Levinson, author of An Argument Open to All: Reading ‘The Federalist’ in the 21st Century

    “Scholarly, hard-hitting and relevant. Finkelman’s book is a must-read for those who seek to understand the permeating influence of slavery in the development of antebellum law.”—R. Kent Newmyer, author of The Treason Trial of Aaron Burr: Law, Politics, and the Character Wars of the New Nation

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

White, "Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean"

New from Stanford University Press: Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean (Nov. 2017), by Joshua M. White (University of Virginia). A description from the Press:
The 1570s marked the beginning of an age of pervasive piracy in the Mediterranean that persisted into the eighteenth century. Nowhere was more inviting to pirates than the Ottoman-dominated eastern Mediterranean. In this bustling maritime ecosystem, weak imperial defenses and permissive politics made piracy possible, while robust trade made it profitable. By 1700, the limits of the Ottoman Mediterranean were defined not by Ottoman territorial sovereignty or naval supremacy, but by the reach of imperial law, which had been indelibly shaped by the challenge of piracy.

Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean is the first book to examine Mediterranean piracy from the Ottoman perspective, focusing on the administrators and diplomats, jurists and victims who had to contend most with maritime violence. Pirates churned up a sea of paper in their wake: letters, petitions, court documents, legal opinions, ambassadorial reports, travel accounts, captivity narratives, and vast numbers of decrees attest to their impact on lives and livelihoods. Joshua M. White plumbs the depths of these uncharted, frequently uncatalogued waters, revealing how piracy shaped both the Ottoman legal space and the contours of the Mediterranean world.
A few blurbs:
"Through his exhaustive examination of the Ottoman legal strategies to confront violence at sea, Joshua White gives us the first cogent definition of the Ottoman Mediterranean in the early modern period. Moreover, he shows how these legal norms were disseminated and adopted by a wide range of actors, both European and Ottoman. White has put the early modern Ottoman Mediterranean on the map." —Molly Greene 
"Joshua White offers an elegant and sophisticated discussion of the Ottoman laws on piracy and tells a vivid story of swashbuckling in the early modern Mediterranean. Providing what has been, until now, a huge missing piece in the history of piracy, this book will engage and excite readers with interests in piracy, the development of the early modern state, and the formation of international law." —Judith E. Tucker
More information is available here.

Balancing feedback

One of the greatest blessings I’ve had in my journey to book publication is the feedback I’ve received along the way.  While feedback from others is invaluable to the scholarly process, it can also present some challenges on how to proceed when readers don’t agree.  Today’s post will attempt to offer some advice, or at least share some experiences, related to incorporating others’ suggestions for your work.

As someone who suffers regularly from imposter syndrome, I continue to ask for feedback on nearly everything I write.  I have benefitted enormously from the generosity of mentors, peers, and senior scholars who have offered suggestions for improving my work.  Writing my book’s acknowledgments section was a highlight of the publication process for me, and it ended up being pretty lengthy (and I’m still sure I missed somebody!).  But sometimes, receiving lots of feedback can present its own challenges.

Graduate students often face this dilemma when committee members disagree.  Sometimes the disagreements are loud and unpleasant.  Sometimes the student gets caught in the middle of personal feuds or professional differences.  Luckily for me, my committee members never reached this level of disagreement, though they did not always see eye-to-eye on how I should write my dissertation.  At a couple of moments during the writing and revision process, sets of comments from my different committee members even directly contradicted each other—i.e. “needs more historiography”, “historiography should be relegated to the footnotes”.  At my dissertation defense, I did my best to use these varying perspectives to my advantage by allowing the committee to debate some of their differing suggestions. 

Someone once told me that the best dissertation defenses involved the committee talking more about the future direction of the work than the student. If that’s the case (and in my experience at my own and subsequent defenses, it is), my defense was top notch.  At the time, I thought this was great because it got me off the hook. I scribbled furiously to capture as much of their combined wisdom as possible and had to say relatively little.  But this was more than an avoidance technique; I soaked in the feedback as much as possible, hoping to get a sense of how scholars from varying perspectives might respond to my work.  Bringing together a strong, diverse committee of interests helps your work speak to wider audiences. 

I followed my Ph.D. graduation with a memorable year in Madison as the Law and Society Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Wisconsin’s law school.  My postdoc kicked off with the J. Willard Hurst Summer Institute, a gathering of junior scholars who spend a week reading and discussing various works of legal history together.  The group then uses a second week to read and comment on each other’s article-length writing samples (I highly recommend the Hurst Institute to any junior scholars who might be reading this!).  That week, I collected a giant binder full of feedback from my fellow “Hursties” and our fearless leader Barbara Welke. 

Shortly after the Hurst Institute, the supervisor for my postdoc, Howard Erlanger, convened a meeting with several Wisconsin history and law faculty who generously read and commented on my entire dissertation.  Once again, I soaked in lots of excellent advice, rushing to get it all down (thanks again to these excellent readers!).  The meeting felt a bit like a second dissertation defense—in a good way.  I learned so much from the broad perspectives represented. 

During my year in Madison, I followed the advice of my Duke mentors.  They recommended I spend the year reading broadly, working on broader conceptual issues, and digging into some of the new research I added to the book.  [side note: this advice might have been different if I did not already have a job at Auburn lined up after my postdoc!] I sat in on a graduate course in the African Diaspora, and I plowed through reading lists on various topics (legal culture, the history of the jury, etc.) with an assistant professor working on similar conceptual issues.  I also completed significant additional research in appellate freedom suit opinions.  At the end of the year, I drafted an article that I submitted to the Journal of Southern History and awaited the first anonymous responses to my research. 

If by this point, my experience with feedback sounds typical, the readers’ reports from the JSH are definitely not the norm.  Six months of waiting to hear news of my article resulted in six readers’ reports.  Sorting through comments like “this is a good but not great article” left me humbled but determined to guide the article to publication.  Digesting so many different sets of written comments left me with patches of hair missing as I struggled to make contradictory suggestions somehow line up. Some reviewers wanted additional detail about the statutes and particular legal forms of the freedom suits, while other comments suggested that I should streamline this information or cut it. All of the readers wanted additional historiographical context, but they varied in terms of what historiographies I should primarily address.

It would never have occurred to me at that stage to call the editor of the Journal. While I cannot remember who suggested that I do that, I can strongly advise anyone in a similar situation to ask for this type of conversation.  Sometimes when dealing with multiple sets of (contradictory) comments, the best thing to do is to try to bring in someone from the outside.  Whether the person is from the publishing side or a trusted colleague, mentor, or senior scholar, an outside perspective can really help you make sense of things.  More on this after the jump…

Monday, January 15, 2018

Rare Book School: Law Books: History & Connoisseurship

[Via H-Law, we have the following announcement from Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian & Lecturer in Legal Research, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.]

Rare Book School is now accepting applications for "Law Books: History & Connoisseurship," a week-long, intensive course that will be offered June 10-15, 2018, at the Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut.

This year marks my sixth time teaching the course, and the first time that I will be most ably assisted by Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Minnesota Law Library.

This intensive, week-long course is about building focused, interesting, and useful collections of historical materials in Anglo-American, European, and Latin American law. It is aimed at individuals and librarians who collect historical legal materials, and the book dealers who supply them. Lively discussion and extensive hands-on activities are hallmarks of the course. A full description, preliminary reading list, and past student evaluations are available [here].

Details on applying for admission to the course are at The application deadline for first-round decisions is February 19. Applications received after this date will be considered on a rolling basis. Enrollment is strictly limited to 12 students.

I can answer questions about the content of the course. All questions about applications, admissions, tuition, and housing should be directed to the Rare Book School staff, at

Swanson on the Corset

Kara Swanson, Northeastern University School of Law has posted on SSRN "The Corset," her forthcoming contribution to A History of Intellectual Property in 50 Objects, edited by Dan Hunter and Claudy Op Den Camp and coming out with Cambridge University Press. Here is the abstract: 
Corset Sylphide (1899) (NYPL)
Two centuries ago, women and girls throughout the United States reached for one piece of technology first thing in the morning, and kept it with them all day long -- the corset. Although earlier men had worn corsets, the corset’s purpose by the mid-nineteenth century was to create the public shape of the female body. It emphasized (or depending on the whims of fashion, deemphasized), bust, waist, and hips in ways intended to accentuate differences between male and female. Today, the corset still fascinates, an emblem of femininity that appears on fashion runways, the concert stage (famously worn by pop star Madonna), and in blockbuster movies (Rocky Horror Picture Show, Gone with the Wind). Less visible are the ways the corset as an object of intellectual property has exposed the masculine assumptions in our understanding of technology, patents, and law.
For more on corsets, don't miss Ruth Goodman's How to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-dusk Guide to Victorian Life and anything on Frida Kahlo's painted corsets.

H/t: The Faculty Lounge (on the book)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Weekend Roundup

  • Patti Minter, history professor and former faculty regent on the Western Kentucky University Board of Regents [and ASLH stalwart!], said she plans to file to run for State Representative for the 20th House District of Kentucky, a position previously held by Rep. Jody Richards (D).”   H/t: College Heights Herald, here and here.
  • "On January 13, 2018, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum will officially close the 'Images of Internment' exhibit with a 4:00 p.m. reception and auction event."  More
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Friday, January 12, 2018

International Journal of Law and Public Administration

[We have the following call for submissions.]

International Journal of Law and Public Administration is a new journal on the subjects of International law, Constitutional and administrative law, Criminal law, Contract law,Tort law, Property law, Equity and trusts, Public administration, Public policy, Public management, et al.

We are recruiting reviewers for the journal. If you are interested in this position of reviewing submissions, we welcome you to apply for. Please find further details [here.]

We are also calling for the submission of papers. Please see the journal’s profile here and submit your manuscripts online. If you have any questions, please contact the editorial assistant at

We would appreciate it if you could share this information with your colleagues and associates.