Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reid Book Award to Dauber, "The Sympathetic State"

More prize and award news from last week's meeting of the American Society for Legal History: This year's John Phillip Reid Book Award went to Michele Landis Dauber (Stanford Law School) for The Sympathetic State: Disaster Relief and the Origins of the American Welfare State (University of Chicago Press).

Michele Landis Dauber (credit)
About the award:
Named for John Phillip Reid, the prolific legal historian and founding member of the Society, and made possible by the generous contributions of his friends and colleagues, the John Phillip Reid Book Award is an annual award for the best monograph by a mid-career or senior scholar, published in English in any of the fields defined broadly as Anglo-American legal history. The award is given on the recommendation of the Society's Committee on the John Phillip Reid Book Award.
Via H-Law, we have the official citation:
Dauber's book dramatically revises the history of the American welfare state by tracing the practice of federal disaster relief to the founding era and showing how this practice provided the constitutional basis for the Social Security Act of 1935. The book makes a striking intervention in well-worn debates about the New Deal’s novelty by revealing that its legal architects sought not a constitutional revolution, but to incrementally extend the well-established constitutional precedent of disaster relief. Because this precedent was established primarily in Congress, Dauber’s book is also a major case study of legislative constitutionalism in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The Sympathetic State impressively alters – indeed reverses – the conventional account of what is today called “cooperative federalism” by demonstrating that, prior to 1937, there was a stronger consensus for the constitutionality of purely national spending programs than for cooperative federal-state spending programs. Revising how historians write about the Great Depression, Dauber observes that Americans first experienced the financial collapse as numerous local crises. She beautifully reconstructs how New Dealers used nascent social science, visual media, and journalism to knit these into a singular disastrous event, what we now term the Great Depression. Deeply and creatively researched, The Sympathetic State will reframe debate over the American welfare state among advocates and academics alike.
The members of the John Phillip Reid Book Award Committee were:
Sophia Lee, Chair (University of Pennsylvania Law School)
Richard J. Ross (University of Illinois College of Law)
Laura Weinrib (University of Chicago Law School)
Steven Wilf (University of Connecticut Law School)
Nicholas Parrillo (Yale Law School)
For my own admiring thoughts on this book, follow the link.

Congratulations to Professor Dauber!