Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Old Histories Made Available by the DC Circuit Historical Society

The Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit has recently made available ungated and on-line several long-ago published historical writings on the history of the DC courts.  As the Society’s website reports:
One is An Anecdotal History of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, written by Judge Matthew McGuire. Judge McGuire had long been interested in the District Court's history, and over a period of years, penned articles on the history for the Journal of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia. In 1976, he put his work into book form, which the Court published. The other book, History of The United States Court of Appeals for The District of Columbia Circuit in The Country's Bicentennial Year, was prepared by E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr. and the Young Lawyers Section of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia.
Both may be read or downloaded here.

In addition, James Johnston, chair of the Society’s Communications Chair, has, with the help of his committee and with the permission of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, has complied a selection of historically significant articles from the BADC’s journal and have started posting them on the Society’s website.   Here are the Society's teasers for the first four:
In "$100,000 Awarded Plaintiff for False Imprisonment-in 1882," Jake Stein and Arthur Stambler look at the winning arguments to the jury on how to calculate damages for 45 days of wrongful incarceration in a carpeted jail cell.

Frederick Tyler takes us back to the early 1900s in "The Attorney General's Pants." When the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia urgently needed to hire a private detective to chase a miscreant but had no appropriation to pay one, he turned to Attorney General Philander C. Knox for help with surprising results.
Communists were the enemy during the Cold War. On appeal from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the Supreme Court ruled in 1958 that regulations denying passports to Communists were invalid. But rather than expel these perceived enemies, the government wanted to keep them in the country. The Bar Association of DC chimed in with the 1960 article entitled "Committee on UnAmerican Activities, Passport Control" in the Bar Journal.

Concerns with a nuclear attack were so pervasive during the Cold War that even the lawyers of the Bar Association of DC felt the need to take a position on the issue. In "Report of the Committee on Atomic Attack" in the Bar Journal, the Board of Directors outlined its views on preparation and the maintenance of civilian control.

CFP: Legal Studies Grad Conference at Brown

[We have the following announcement.]

Law, Language, and the Archive: Third Annual Legal Studies Graduate Student Conference, Brown University, April 27th – 28th, 2018

Deadline for submission: March 1, 2018 | Acceptance notification by: March 15, 2018
Please submit a 250-500 word abstract, along with a copy of your C.V. to

Language is a conduit of information, a reflection of the social and political constructions of bygone eras, as well as our present. It can be deployed in the service of beauty, expression, liberation, punishment, control, and /or shame. Moreover, language, an essential tool of the law, is ordered and organized according to an often contradictory sedimentation of norms, assumptions, and customs. As legal scholars, we employ a number of methodologies to confront and interpret the messy entanglements of language, law, and lived experience. The legal archive, like law and language, “straddles the material and the ideational,” sometimes tracking these myriad modes of legal speech, sometimes itself symbolically producing ‘the law’ as a heavily guarded and precise linguistic apparatus, filled with loopholes and traps.

The Brown Legal Studies Initiative invites paper submissions on the subject of “Law, Language, and the Archive” for its third annual graduate student conference. At a moment when important political and legal institutions in the United States are challenged from within and without, our conference will consider the interaction of language and the law, contemporarily and in broader historical and comparatist contexts, and the ways we, as scholars, interact and interpret the language of the law in the archival sources we use. We hope to foster interdisciplinary conversation and so encourage papers from any discipline, including (but not limited to): Jurisprudence, History, Ethnic Studies, Philosophy, Anthropology, Literature, Classics, Political Science, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Economics, and Sociology. We welcome abstracts addressing any geographical area or historical period. Possible topics of discussion may include:

• law and / as literature
• jurisdiction
• ethical, political, and vulnerability considerations of legal archival work
• legal narrative
• legal claims as speech acts
• queering the legal archive
• deletions, ellisions, absences, silences, and hauntings in the legal archive
• legal testimony
• bearing witness in the court and the archive
• expressing/liberating gender, race, ethnicity, nationhood, and indigeneity
• disciplining/containing gender, race, ethnicity, nationhood, and indigeneity
• epistemology/ways of knowing and  the law

If you have questions, please contact Anne Gray Fischer ( or Sherri Cummings ( More information is also available [here.]

Balancing tenure and promotion

Tenure and promotion processes can vary at each institution. At Auburn, readers of your tenure file get the summer to review your file and write their letters. By mid-August, the file is disseminated to your senior colleagues for review and a vote.  The file then goes to a college committee for a vote. At this point, if the college vote is positive, the Associate Dean might tell you to “pop the champagne” while waiting an additional three months for the University committee to vote (I happily followed her suggestion). In my case, the Dean told me that by the time I heard from the University committee, I would be on to new projects and the letter would almost feel anticlimactic. While the first part of her statement was correct, the latter was not. I don’t know if I’m unique in this regard.  I don’t know if the stress of having kids along the way or the multiple revisions I’d had to make made me feel differently about that letter.  I do know that almost a year later, I still feel like I am basking in the glow. 

Getting tenure feels great. But as many colleagues will warn you, it does not get easier. I still work most weekends and some late nights. I still feel behind much of the time, or like I almost—but not quite—have my act together.  The demands on my time and energy are more numerous, not less.

But somehow things are different. I think part of the difference is, of course, the security that tenure provides. I also think getting tenure has helped me have more confidence in myself and my work. I know how hard it has been to write my article and my book, and to teach multiple new preps over the years. Making it through all of that has given me increasing self-assurance in my own abilities and more forgiveness for my shortcomings.

I’m also more realistic about what I can accomplish and try to say no more often.  I now ask myself a series of questions when someone asks me to do something.  Do I really want to do the task? Is it important for my research, teaching, or other responsibilities? Will I regret it if I say no? Am I just agreeing to do this task because I feel guilty or obligated?  I know my time is precious and valuable (to me, at least!), so I try to reserve it for the things that matter most to me.

And I’ve come to accept that prioritizing the things that are important to me might mean I publish less often than other colleagues and friends.  This realization continues to be a tough one for me. I definitely have a tendency to compare myself to others. I know I need to get over that (and I’m working on it). I now make choices based on what I’m passionate about and what I want to accomplish. Some of those accomplishments will be publications, presentations, or other academic goals, but many will not. In the past eighteen months, especially, my priorities have shifted to include more volunteer time and work in local progressive causes. I also get to spend more time with my family. Finally, I also value my “me time”.  I see these things as an investment in myself and my sanity. Now that I feel somewhat more confident in my abilities and my professional life, I have also learned how important it is to balance my work with the many other areas of life.  I see these things not as distractions, but as critically necessary elements of a well-rounded person. But I still want to keep researching and writing, too!

In the months since I received tenure, I have faced the mountainous task of starting a second major research project.  The demands of teaching, service, and other personal and professional tasks continue.  It is often too easy to push work on my next project to the side.  But I’ve been warned more than once by other colleagues and friends of the dangers of languishing as an associate professor.  I do want to keep actively participating in the scholarly community.

I vowed to keep moving forward on my research and writing.  I spent the summer after tenure catching up on some reading and thinking about ideas for the next book.  I then spent the fall applying for a few grants and making plans for future research trips.  This semester (spring 2018), I am teaching a class that involves research on slavery in Auburn and the surrounding area in hopes that the research we do in class will contribute to the foundations of my new project.  Linking up my research and teaching so directly will force me to make progress during the semester, when I might otherwise push off research tasks in favor of putting out the immediate fires of teaching and service.

Although I am still working out the particulars, I plan to focus my next project on slavery in Alabama. Practical concerns rate high on the list of reasons for this choice.  But I am also excited to look into a place where slavery was so important (Alabama had the fourth largest enslaved population in the nation on the eve of the American Civil War) and that has received relatively little scholarly attention.  I look forward to sharing with many of you what I find. 

Thank you all for reading my posts and to the Legal History Blog for inviting me to write for you all this month.  It has been a fun and eye-opening experience to reflect on the process of research and writing and think about what kinds of lessons I can take from it.  I hope some of my mistakes and accomplishments will be helpful to future readers and other scholars struggling through the challenges of writing a book and launching a career. 

Tomlins & Desautels-Stein, eds., "Searching for Contemporary Legal Thought"

Cambridge University Press has released Searching for Contemporary Legal Thought (Dec. 2017), edited by Justin Desautels-Stein (University of Colorado School of Law) and Christopher Tomlins (University of California, Berkeley School of Law). A description from the Press:
For more than a century, law schools have trained students to 'think like a lawyer'. In these times of legal crisis, both in legal education and in global society, what does that mean for the rest of us? In this book, thirty leading international scholars - including Louis Assier-Andrieu, Marianne Constable, Yves Dezalay, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Bryant Garth, Peter Goodrich, Duncan Kennedy, Martti Koskenniemi, Shaun McVeigh, Samuel Moyn, Annelise Riles, Charles Sabel and William Simon - examine what is distinctive about legal thought. They probe the relation between law and time, law and culture, and legal thought and legal action; the nature of current legal thought; the geography of legal thought; and the conditions for recognition of a new 'contemporary' style of law. This work will help theorists, social scientists, historians and students understand the intellectual context of legal problems, legal doctrine, and jurisprudential trends in the current conjuncture.
A few blurbs:
‘In this strikingly provocative collection, an international group of some of the most interesting and original minds in the legal academy asks whether there is such a thing as ‘contemporary legal thought', or only the shards and fragments of exhausted prior movements and systems. Some contributors see only the ruins; others, possibilities for making postmodern pastiches out of the fragments; still others point to wildflowers - prospects for novel approaches to understanding law that may someday crystallize into more general theories. The book is designed to disturb conventional views of law and legal theory; and it does so, with panache.' -- Robert W. Gordon  
‘This brilliantly conceived collection seeks to explore what is new and distinctive in contemporary legal thought. The authors draw out the complex relations between theory and practice, past and present, faith and suspicion, information and thought, fragmentation and creation, and critique and innovation that are at the heart of contemporary performances of legality. The result is an invitation to take seriously the question of what styles and practices of legal thought might be adequate to this time of crisis in the institutions of law.' -- Anne Orford
More information is available here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Belated Book Review Roundup

Did you feel like something was missing this weekend?  Didn't have the same pep in your step on Sunday morning?  My apologies! This weekend's book reviews have been terribly delayed.  But it's not too late, I hope. Check out the titles below.

The New York Times has a review by Mary Beth Norton of Catherine Kerrison’s Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America, which combines a detailed history of Thomas Jefferson’s two white daughters, who accompanied him to Paris in the 1780s, and in several of the book’s “most innovative chapters, resconstructs the life of Harriet, Jefferson’s only enslaved daughter.

The Times also features Jeanne Theoharis’s A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History (which “presents a historical narrative that is largely unknown outside scholarly books,” and features “pointed indictments of Northern self-congratulation”) in a review of books about the Black Lives Matter Movement.

There is also an article in the Times about Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, which is banned in prisons in North Carolina and Florida.

In the Washington Post, James G. Hershberg reviews The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam, in which Max Boot “tracks the fascinating but ultimately depressing trajectory” of Edward Lansdale--who inspired the Graham Greene’s “The Quiet American” (1955) and Eugene Burdick’s “The Ugly American” (1958)--and his attempts at assisting the South Vietnamese in the years before the Vietnam War. While the author has an admiring tone, he “judiciously refrains from contending that Lansdale’s route would have yielded a materially different outcome.”

In the NYRB, Antony Beevor reviews four books on the siege of Leningrad, The War Within: Diaries from the Siege of Leningradby Alexis Peri; Leningrad 1941–1942: Morality in a City Under Siegeby Sergey Yarov; Besieged Leningrad: Aesthetic Responses to Urban Disasterby Polina Barskova; Written in the Dark: Five Poets in the Siege of Leningradedited and with an introduction by Polina Barskova.

The LA review of Books takes on Mark Perry’s The Pentagon’s Wars:The Military’s Undeclared War Against America's Presidents, which examine American conflicts “from the end of the Cold War up to the election of Donald Trump,” documenting the back and forth between the nation’s civilian leaders and what he calls an “often recalcitrant and quietly dissenting military establishment.” In the same publication, Attorney Alyson Clair Decker reviews You Don’t Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side by Orly Lobel, which she calls “a disjointed and repetitive diatribe against Barbie” that “reads like a trashy pulp fiction novel.” According to Decker, Lobel focuses on Mattel’s efforts to control Barbie’s image and doesn’t give the company a fair shake.

The Christian Science Monitor reviews Patrick J. Charles’ Armed in America: A History of Gun Rights from Colonial Militias to Concealed Carry. According to the review, Charles reveals “weaknesses in the argument that our Founding Fathers wanted citizens to have totally free access to guns,” but is also “uncompromisingly thorough to the point of being somniferous.”

The New Books Network features interviews with Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor (Colored Travelers: Mobility and the Fight for Citizenship before the Civil War); Richard E. Schroeder (The Foundation of the CIA: Harry Truman, The Missouri Gang and the Origins of the Cold War); Emily C. Nacol (An Age of Risk: Politics and Economy in Early Modern Britain); Sir David Cannadine (Victorious Century: The United Kingdom, 1800-1906); Daniel J. Sharfstein (Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War), and Robert Hunt Ferguson (Remaking the Rural South: Interracialism, Christian Socialism, and Cooperative Farming in Jim Crow Mississippi), as well as several new books in Holocaust Studies. In the Arguing History podcast, Lynn Dumenil and Christopher Capozzola consider the relationship between America’s involvement in World War I and the granting of women the right to vote.

Tenth Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition

Morris L. Cohen (AALL)
[We have the following announcement.]

The Legal History and Rare Books (LH&RB) Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), in cooperation with Cengage Learning, announces the Tenth Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition. The competition is named in honor of Morris L. Cohen, late Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School.

The competition is designed to encourage scholarship and to acquaint students with the AALL and law librarianship, and is open to students currently enrolled in accredited graduate programs in library science, law, history, and related fields. Essays may be on any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives. The winner will receive a $500.00 prize from Cengage Learning and up to $1,000 for expenses to attend the AALL Annual Meeting.

Winning and runner-up entries will be invited to submit their entries to Unbound, the official journal of LH&RB. Past winning essays have gone on to be accepted by journals such as N.Y.U. Law Review, American Journal of Legal History, University of South Florida Law Review, William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities, and French Historical Review.

The entry form and instructions are available at the LH&RB website.  Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m., April 16, 2018 (EDT).

Khorakiwala on judicial iconography

Rahela Khorakiwala (Jawaharlal Nehru University) has published "Legal Consciousness as Viewed through the Judicial Iconography of the Madras High Court," Asian Journal of Law and Society (pub. online 8 Jan. 2018), 1-23. The article takes a historical interest in the architecture and statuary of the court. Here is the abstract: 

The Madras High Court located in Chennai, India, was established in 1862 when India was under colonial rule. It continues to exist in post-independence India after merging into the Indian legal system. In this study, I argue that the architecture and judicial iconography of the Madras High Court building reflects a recurring historical tension between Indian and British concepts of justice. This is continually reflected in the semiotics of the legal space of this high court which in turn influences the legal consciousness of the court personnel who utilize this
space. This architecture and iconography of the Madras High Court constitutes, preserves, and reinforces the ambivalent legal consciousness of those who created, occupy, and visit this space. The contemporary legal consciousness of the court personnel is thus seen to have deep historical roots. 
Further information is available here

Balancing the tenure clock

The realities of the tenure clock can result in enormous pressure on faculty no matter what the circumstances of a particular person or institution.  There is no one-size-fits-all model for succeeding in a tenure-track position.  Sometimes the department, college, and university expectations for tenure and promotion are clearly communicated. Often, they are not. Even when you know what’s expected for tenure, the timeframe can be tight and nerve-wrecking.  And even when you have met the requirements, a certain anxiety creeps in and seems unavoidable.  This post explains my journey to tenure and promotion. Tomorrow’s post will then conclude with a few thoughts about life on the “other side” as a tenured associate professor (spoiler alert: it doesn’t get easier, but it does get better!).

In my previous post, I explained how I turned in my initial book submission in late May 2014, two weeks before my son’s arrival.  Sending in my manuscript meant I had the first several months of my son’s life free from research to focus on my baby. When I received my initial readers’ reports that November, I slowly returned to writing and revising.  See my earlier post on balancing feedback for more on those initial reports and incorporating their suggestions.

Fitting in my revisions around teaching three classes and caring for two young children was no small challenge.  It took me nine months to complete what I hoped would be the last round of revisions.  I sent the revised manuscript to the press the day before starting class in fall 2015.  [You might be noticing a pattern of how deadlines usually work for me.] 

Late in the fall of 2015, I received two new reports on the revised manuscript from my initial readers, Martha Jones and reader #2.  These reports were probably the hardest set of feedback I received because it meant that my book required additional, substantial revisions. The ticking of my tenure clock grew louder.  I never believed the book was perfect.  But I had hoped that any additional suggestions from my second reader would include a recommendation that it be published.  Instead, my editor indicated that the book would be sent to a third reader to determine its fate. If the third reader recommended publication, I would be good and my tenure application in fall 2016 should be safe. After many years of working of research and writing, it felt like so much was riding on what one person thought of the book.

Martha Jones, who identified herself to me at this point in the process (and gave me permission to name her in these posts), continued to recommend publication. But she challenged me on chronology, in particular.  She warned that using a thematic structure for the book obscured a sense of change over time in the St. Louis freedom suits. She also pushed me to define my place in the historiography.  I knew that tracing change is important for a historian, but by this point in my revision, I felt wedded to the thematic structure of the book. In my view, the St. Louis freedom suits did not lend themselves to a simple chronological organization. The cases began with smaller numbers that increased rapidly by the mid-1820s and then dropped off sharply after 1845. From the mid-1820s until the mid-1840s, a similar set of issues came up in court and resulted in similar overall patterns of outcomes. To help address her concern, I resolved to make these periods of chronological change clearer in the revisions.     

I was less sure how to respond to the feedback I received from reader #2.  The second reader remained frustrated with the appellate material I included in the book despite my efforts to trim it down and explain its place.  Given that I argue for the importance of using local court records, I understand this reader’s frustration with my use of appellate cases for context.  I made the decision to use appellate cases mostly for practical reasons.  The tenure deadline meant that I simply did not have time to complete additional large-scale research in local courts across the slaveholding states.  Until additional local studies of freedom suits are published, the appellate material remains the best way to contextualize St. Louis’s story.  The second reader also had concerns about my use of the term “legal culture,” asking me to clarify further not only what legal culture is, but also what it is not.  These comments reminded me that legal culture cannot be everything or the term had no meaning.  I then crafted a more precise definition that made clear what I meant by using the term “legal culture”.    

Reading back through the manuscript with these critiques in hand, I felt the creep of self-doubt and discouragement.  I knew the second reader was right about both of these issues, but I was unsure how to fix them.  My editor cautioned me against making too many changes while waiting for the third reader’s report. Because so much was riding on the third reader’s evaluation, the editor sought out someone who had time to read the manuscript quickly. A swift response would allow me time for further revisions or, in the worst-case scenario, submitting to another press.  I was panic-stricken while waiting for the third report. I had sleepless nights and anxiety-ridden days.  [Post continues after the jump break.]

Silber on "The Poor Pay More"

Norman I. Silber, Hofstra University School of Law, has posted Discovering that the Poor Pay More: Race Riots, Poverty, and the Rise of Consumer Law, which appears in the Fordham Urban Law Journal 44 (2017): 1319-1328, and was a contribution to a symposium issue.
David Caplovitz is remembered primarily for his book The Poor Pay More and his writing about poor consumers. This article addresses why this work propelled the reconstruction of consumer financial protection law, by placing it within the context of widespread urban rioting and the civil rights movements of the 1960s. It argues that Capolvoitz presented the American political center with a clinical, denatured sociological explanation for urban rioting, which involved a more palatable and less threatening suggested response to unrest than explanations premised on intrinsic white racism or class oppression. According to Caplovitz, the riots more than anything else reflected a political and social failure to appreciate the importance of consumer finance. He recommended addressing racism and deeper social grievances through major revisions to commercial and consumer law. Sidestepping other “root causes,” Caplovitz helped courts, law-makers, and many middle-class Americans revalue consumer law and its connection to domestic peace, poverty and economic justice.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Charles W. McCurdy Fellowship in Legal History

[We are pleased to have this announcement from our friends at the University of Virginia School of Law.]

In partnership with the National Fellows Program, the University of Virginia School of Law is soliciting applications for outstanding junior scholars for the 2018-19 Charles W. McCurdy fellowship in legal history.  The fellowship allows scholars to complete dissertations in legal history while in residence at the Law School, and the fellow will be expected to spend the majority of his or her time on dissertation research.  The University’s nationally renowned legal history program, which includes a workshop, a writing group, a JD/MA program in legal history, and an engaged community of interested scholars, provides a rich environment for a junior scholar.  The fellow will also help coordinate the legal history workshop and has the opportunity to present their work there.  As a part of the National Fellows Program, the McCurdy fellow is paired with a “dream mentor” – a senior scholar in the fellow’s field from anywhere in the world – who will provide critical guidance during the year.  The fellow will also participate in the National Fellows’ fall and spring conferences and will receive training on how to reach broader scholarly and non-scholarly audiences.  The fellow will receive a stipend of $32,000 for the year. 

Applicants must have completed the coursework toward a Ph.D. in history.  Strong preference will be given to applicants who hold a J.D. and who will complete their dissertation by the end of the fellowship year.  For the application, please see the National Fellows Program website.  Please direct any questions to Professor Cynthia Nicoletti at  Applications will be accepted until February 28, 2018.

NYU Legal History Colloquium: Spring 2018 Lineup

Here's the Spring 2018 lineup for the New York University Legal History Colloquium, coordinated by David Golove and Daniel Hulsebosch:
The Law of Nations and the “Conflict of Faculties”
Martti Koskenniemi, Academy Professor of International Law, University of Helsinki, NYU Global Professor of Law (Spring 2018) 
The Sovereign Market and Sex Difference: Human Rights in America
Amy Dru Stanley, Associate Professor of History and the College, University of Chicago                       
Creating a Common Law of Slavery for England's Empire
Holly Brewer, Burke Professor of American History & Associate Professor, Director of History Honors Program, University of Maryland 

The Corporation and the British Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century
Philip Stern, Sally Dalton Robinson Associate Professor of History, Duke University
Does the Supreme Court Follow the Flag?: The Judiciary, Foreign Affairs, and the Founding
Martin Flaherty, Leitner Family Professor, Co-Director, Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, Fordham University School of Law 
The Birth of the Business Corporation East and West: Eurasian Trade Institutions and their Migration, 1400–1700
Professor Ron Harris, The Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University
For more information, follow the link.

Lvovsky on Gay Bars and Liquor Boards in the BC Legal History Roundtable

Coming up in the Boston College Law School Legal History Roundtable on February 8 is “Liquor Laws, Gay Bars, and the Politics of Common Sense,” by Anna Lvovsky, Harvard Law School.  From the Roundtable’s website:
Queer nightlife in the early twentieth century thrived in a period of minimal scrutiny by municipal authorities. With the end of Prohibition in 1933, all that would begin to change, as newly established liquor boards worked alongside local police departments to enforce a host of regulations against serving gay customers in licensed bars. The vast terrain of anti-homosexual proceedings provides a rich window into queer life in the mid-twentieth century: a record of the many bonds of friendship, unusual commercial alliances, and acts of resistance that defined the gay social world in these years.

But that history is also notable for what it reveals about the dynamics of anti-homosexual regulation itself, and specifically how that project intersected with the broader public discourse about homosexuality in the mid-twentieth century. Typically requiring some proof that a bar owner not only served queer patrons but also did so knowingly, liquor proceedings against gay-friendly bars rose and fell on a very particular type of evidence: proof that a bar’s customers conformed to widespread public stereotypes of homosexuality. The boards’ police power over gay-friendly bars, in short, was fueled by a presumption of some shared public knowledge about deviance—the idea that most urban Americans harbored a common understanding about who the homosexual was and how he differed, in his conduct and appearance, from the ordinary man. In context, the ongoing litigation surrounding the boards’ anti-homosexual proceedings went far beyond a legal dispute about the liberties of gay men and women in the public sphere. It was also a cultural debate about the nation's prevailing understandings of deviant behavior: not only where the general public drew the boundaries of normal and abnormal male or female conduct, but also who the “general public” might be—whose opinions about sexual and gender norms defined the threshold of American normalcy during the Cold War.

Anna Lvovsky is an Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she teaches American legal history, the history of policing, criminal law, and evidence. She clerked for Judge Michael Boudin of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and for Judge Gerard E. Lynch of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Professor Lvovsky graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she was articles co-chair of the Harvard Law Review and the recipient of the LGBTQ Writing Prize, and received her Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University. She earned a B.A. summa cum laude from Yale College.

Symposium Issue: Legal History in Latin America

We have word of the publication, on-line, of the first of two volumes of Precedente: Revista Jurídica devoted to Legal History in Latin America. (Universidad Icesi of Colombia publishes the journal.)  The issue is in Spanish and is available as a free download.  Here is the TOC:

Régimen de las moratorias en las provincias argentinas de Salta (1825) y Tucumán (1861)
Abelardo Levaggi

Enseñanza de la historia del derecho centrada en el aprendizaje de los estudiantes a lo largo de 115 años de la fundación de la cátedra (Chile, 1902)
Eric Eduardo Palma, María Francisca Elgueta

Tradición y cambio político en Provincia: Popayán, Nueva Granada y la redacción de la Constitución de 1814
Adolfo León Guerrero García

El primer panamericanismo: puente entre el derecho de gentes y el derecho internacional
Luis Ociel Castaño
El pragmatismo jurídico de Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. y el Derecho como Sistema Social de Niklas Luhmann: un encuentro histórico
Vagner Felipe Kühn
Derecho y caricatura política: el constituyente primario de 1990 y el cambio constitucional de 1991
Diana Paola Gil Guzmán

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Weekend Roundup

  • The latest op-eds in the Washington Post's Made by History series includes one by Christopher W. Schmidt, Chicago-Kent Law, on civil rights and the Department of Health and Human Services' initiative to "protect people who refuse to perform certain medical procedures that conflict with their religious commitments, such as abortions, sterilization or assisted suicide." 
  • In DC Theatre Scene, Kate Colwell reviews the play Sovereignty, written by Mary Kathryn Nagle and performed at Washington’s Arena Stage theater.  "The story follows the present-day efforts of Sarah Polson (Kyla Garcia), a fiercely intelligent Cherokee lawyer, to restore Cherokee Nation jurisdictional rights to prosecute non-Native abusers of Cherokee women on ancestral lands through Cherokee Law. In parallel with her story, the audience follows the legal efforts of Sarah’s ancestor, John Ridge, in the 1830s to defend the sovereignty of his people to uphold their laws and Constitution.”  More
  • Michael Meltsner, Northeastern University School of Law, has posted a short chapter from his memoir recounting a consultation with the stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce.
  • And, speaking of comedy, as much as we enjoy the political humor of late-night talk show hosts, the most incisive satirists are still editorial cartoonists.
  • ICYMI: LHB Guest Blogger Mary Ziegler, professor of law at Florida State University, had an op-ed in the New York Times, Roe v. Wade Was About More Than Abortion.  Retired Tasmanian Supreme Court librarian Dorothy Shea has been preserving an invaluable cache of that Australian state’s early legislation.  Donald A. Ritchie discussed Historians and Government Shutdowns.  (Which reminds me: thank you, Patrick Kerwin of the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress for hosting my New Deal Legal History Seminar Thursday!  Harlan Stone's case file in Gobitis, rows upon rows of NAACP papers, Walt Whitman's walking stick, and Thomas Jefferson's hair!!  DRE)
  • A UK-based project on inheritance practices among Indian migrants to Britain includes a fully funded Master's and PhD studentship. Details here
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Schuppert's "World of Rules"

[Our friends at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History have the following announcement.]

Gunnar Folke Schuppert, The World of Rules: A Somewhat Different Measurement of the World.  (Global Perspectives on Legal History 10).  Frankfurt am Main: Max Planck Institute for European Legal History 2017, 378 p.,   ISBN: 978-3-944773-09-4.  Open Access Online Edition

This book takes a stand against the narrowing focus of (German) jurisprudence on state law, rooted in the history of the territorially organised nation state. In the shadow of this tradition, state(-hood) law was only conceived of as state law. However, a gradual decoupling of state and law is observable - not least because of globalisation - which inevitably entails a pluralisation of legal regulations. Jurisprudence has to react to this, if it wants to remain relevant. This can happen through a broadening of its horizon towards a more far-reaching “science of regulation”, in order to grasp the increasing “Variety of Rules” adequately. State law remains an important and central type of law, yet it is no longer the sole type.

If that is the case, it becomes necessary to analyse the following three spheres: (1) the plurality of normative orders, especially those of non-state character; (2) the plurality of norm producers, from state legislature to transnational networks of regulation; (3) finally, the plurality of norm enforcement regimes, from states' judiciaries via the judiciary of (international) sport to the exercise of social pressure (e. g. political correctness). Those findings of plurality inevitably lead to the follow-up problem of a redefinition of the concept of law and to the question, which types of law/norms can be identified meaningfully.

For more information, please visit the Institute's website here.

Greer's "Property and Dispossession"

Allan Greer, McGill University, has published Property and Dispossession: Natives, Empires and Land in Early Modern North America with the Cambridge University Press.
Allan Greer examines the processes by which forms of land tenure emerged and natives were dispossessed from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries in New France (Canada), New Spain (Mexico), and New England. By focusing on land, territory, and property, he deploys the concept of “property formation” to consider the ways in which Europeans and their Euro-American descendants remade New World space as they laid claim to the continent’s resources, extended the reach of empire, and established states and jurisdictions for themselves. Challenging long-held, binary assumptions of property as a single entity, which various groups did or did not possess, Greer highlights the diversity of indigenous and Euro-American property systems in the early modern period. The book’s geographic scope, comparative dimension, and placement of indigenous people on an equal plane with Europeans makes it unlike any previous study of early colonization and contact in the Americas.
Here are some endorsements:

“This fascinating book complicates the processes that led to the formation of colonial property. It suggests that the regimes we witness today were the result of dynamic and fluid developments that involved actors of all shapes and sizes. In this story, communal lands were as important as private property, art was an essential component of map-making, and a sense of places was more crucial than abstract territorial claims.”

Tamar Herzog - Harvard University, Massachusetts

“Although landed property is a foundation of our legal, political, and economic systems, too rarely has it been explored in its historically contingent and even kaleidoscopic nature. In a colossal feat of research and synthesis, Allan Greer looks across an entire continent to explore the varied forms of property formation in the early modern era - and the inextricably related processes of Native dispossession. From one of our most eminent historians at the height of his powers, this book will serve as the starting point for all future discussion on the subject.”

François Furstenberg - The Johns Hopkins University

“Monumental and mighty in its range and its depth, Property and Dispossession explores the surprisingly disparate ways in which empire-making in the early Americas did and did not allow for indigenous tenure, ultimately showing that it was not until the nineteenth-century era of state building that nation builders truly sought to liquidate Native communities through the destruction of their distinctive homelands. Native resistance took equally disparate forms over these centuries as indigenous communities fought to thwart dispossession - a fight that continues through the present day as battles for property and sovereignty remain in full throttle.”

Juliana Barr - Duke University, North Carolina

“In this astonishingly important book, Greer has set an agenda for global debates about the history of colonialism, landed empires, and strategies of dispossession. Colonial property was not the triumph of any single logic. Ideas and practices of ownership were contingent, grounded in relationships that date back to the earliest encounters and exchanges.”