Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Weinrib Wins Surrency Prize

Via H-Law, we have the citation for the ASLH’s 2013 Surrency Prize, which was awarded to Laura M. Weinrib, University of Chicago Law School, for her essay, “The Sex Side of Civil Liberties: United States v. Dennett and the Changing Face of Free Speech,” which appeared was a cowinner of the Preyer Award in 2007 and appeared in Law and History Review 30 (2012): 325-386.  Here is the citation:
Mary Ware Dennett, 1913 (Credit: LC)
"The Changing Face of Free Speech” uses the ACLU deliberations and litigation around the 1930 case of U.S. v. Dennett, involving Post Office censorship of birth control literature and materials, to open a window and shine a bright light on a variety of key issues beyond the evolution of American free-speech doctrine.  Marshaling a broad range of primary and secondary sources, and writing with both verve and empathetic respect, Weinrib captures and explicates the tension between what we would today call “social democracy” and “social liberalism.”  Weinrib shows the reader how – in a manner redolent of contemporary rights conflicts—very political commitments to social and economic transformation were themselves transformed, with and without intent and through sincere concerns with liberty and freedom, into political and cultural commitments to free expression and individual self-development. This shift in commitments changed not just the ACLU and its legal engagements but rather, alas, much of the agenda of progressive America to this very day.
The prize, named in honor of Erwin C. Surrency, a founding member and first president of the American Society for Legal History, is awarded for the best article published in Law and History Review the previous year.