Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Thank you, Sam Erman!

It is time, dear readers, to bid fond farewell to our most recent guest blogger, Professor Sam Erman (USC). For reference, here is a compilation of all his posts:
Thank you, Sam Erman!

-- Karen Tani

Muhammad on the Papacy and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Patricia M. Muhammad has posted The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: European Corporations, the Papacy and the Issue of Reparations, which appears in the Willamette Journal of International Law and Dispute Resolution 26 (2018):
The Trans-Atlantic slave trade’s legal institution from a regional economic practice into an international financial market originated from Papal grants initiated during the 16th century. Territories and nation states party to this grant referred to it as the Asiento, as later affirmed by international custom and bilateral treaties. This article will discuss the origins of the Asiento, the legal framework in which the Papacy granted parties’ authority to transfer and other manners in which this contract was conveyed, its effects on Africans and Africans of the Diaspora, and on international conflict, which arose from the coveted slave trade monopoly. As a result, many nations, monarchs, corporations and Western seaboard economies financially benefited from the Trans-Atlantic slave trade through condonation and participation. The author argues that the Asiento evolved into the lawful nucleus which transformed the Trans-Atlantic slave trade into a flourishing international market of human commodities until its legal extermination through international intervention. The article concludes that, as a result of the Papacy’s intimate participation in the origins of the Asiento and as holders of African slaves, it is obliged to provide international restitution to those of the African Diaspora adversely affected by its vestiges.

Bassok on the Carl Schmitt-Josef Redlich (but not Roscoe Pound) Meeting

Or Bassok, University of Nottingham, has posted The Mysterious Meeting between Carl Schmitt and Josef Redlich:
Josef Redlich (LC)
In 1934, Carl Schmitt, then the crown jurist of the Third Reich, writes in an essay titled National Socialist Legal Thought about “[a] conversation with a world-famous, world travelled, experienced scholar of more than seventy years of age from the United States [which] belongs to the major experiences and encounters I have had as a jurist in the service of National Socialism.” Schmitt never revealed the identity of the scholar whom he met. Based on Schmitt’s diaries, I reveal that the scholar whom Schmitt met was Josef Redlich. Born to a Jewish family in 1869, Redlich was the Fairchild Professor of Comparative Public Law at Harvard Law School at the time he met Schmitt in 1931. According to Schmitt’s 1934 essay, the conversation focused on insights relating to the indeterminacy of legal norms as well as on a nihilist understanding of the era. Yet Schmitt drew conclusions from the encounter which hardly correspond to Redlich’s views. My essay first puts the ideas that Schmitt adopted from his encounter with the “American scholar” in the context of the era. Second, I examine Schmitt’s diaries as well as other relevant materials in order to prove that Redlich is the scholar whom Schmitt met. In the process, I exclude Roscoe Pound, the Dean of Harvard Law School at that time, who was the previous “prime suspect” for this encounter with Schmitt. Even after my discovery of the identity of the scholar to whom Schmitt refers in his essay, the story of Schmitt and Redlich’s encounter remains mysterious: the ideas of a scholar of Jewish descent, who believed in an Austrian multi-national, federal state, inspired and played a profound role in the formulation of a blatantly antisemitic essay promoting National Socialist legal thought by the crown jurist of the Nazi regime. After examining the contradictions between Redlich and Schmitt’s positions, I offer an explanation for why Schmitt viewed this encounter as so influential on his road to National Socialism. 

Legal Histories and Legacies of the 19th Amendment

[Here's word of a conference at Stanford Law.]

Legal Histories and Legacies of the 19th Amendment: A Conference in Anticipation of the Amendment’s Centennial.  Stanford Center for Law and History.  Closing Reception Sponsored by the Stanford Law Library. 

Friday, May 3, 2019, Stanford Law School

Breakfast for Conference Participants and Attendees, 9:00 – 9:30 AM

Movements for Suffrage and Office Holding, 9:30 – 11:15 AM
    • Chair: Robert W. Gordon, Stanford Law School
    • Rabia Belt, Stanford Law School
    • Thomas Dublin, Binghamton University History Department
    • Elizabeth Katz, Stanford Law School
    • Bertrall Ross, Berkeley Law School

Immigration & Family Citizenship, 11:30 – 1:00 PM
    • Chair: Nancy F. Cott, Harvard University History Department
    • Felice Batlan, Chicago-Kent College of Law
    • Kristin Collins, Boston University School of Law
    • Hardeep Dhillon, Harvard University History Department

Lunch for Conference Participants and Attendees, 1:00 – 2:15 PM

Post-Suffrage Struggles for Women’s Legal Equality, 2:15–3:45 PM
    • Chair: Richard Ford, Stanford Law School
    • Jill Hasday, University of Minnesota Law School
    • Martha Jones, Johns Hopkins Department of History
    • Serena Mayeri, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Coffee Break, 3:45 – 4:15 PM

Keynote Conversation on “Women & Law, Past & Present,” 4:15 – 5:15 PM
    • Judge Michelle Friedland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    • Justice Tanya R. Kennedy, New York Supreme Court Civil Branch & Immediate Past President of the National Association of Women Judges
    • Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

Closing Reception in Honor of Women Trailblazers in Law, 5:15 – 6:15 PM

The reception is generously sponsored by the Robert Crown Law Library to honor the launch of the “Women Trailblazers in Law” website, a collaboration with the American Bar Foundation and the American Bar Association.

Registration is required and is on a first come, first served basis. Seating is limited. To register, click here.

A Symposium on Jefferson's Legal Commonplace Book

[We've just noticed the following symposium.  DRE]

Necessary to Form a Lawyer: Law, History, and Political Thought in Thomas Jefferson’s Legal Commonplace Book, Princeton University, May 9–10, 2019

Thursday, May 9.  McCormick 101
4:30–6:00pm: Keynote Address
            Introduction: Stanley N. Katz, Princeton
            Address: David Konig and Michael Zuckert

Friday, May 10.  McCormick 101

Panel 1, 8:30–10:00am: Commonplacing: Jefferson’s Method and Purpose

            Sarah Rivett, Princeton, chair
            Earle Havens, Johns Hopkins
            Tony Grafton, Princeton
            Karin Wulf, Omohundro Institute

10:00–10:15am:  Break

Panel 2, 10:15–11:45am: Underpinnings of the Law (I): Jefferson and the Whig Tradition

            Dirk Hartog, Princeton, chair
            Bernadette Meyler, Stanford

            David Lieberman, Berkeley
            Daniel Hulsebosch, NYU

11:45am–1:15pm:  Lunch

Panel 3, 1:15–2:45pm: Underpinnings of the Law (II): History and Political Philosophy

            Michael Zuckert, University of Notre Dame, chair
            Hannah Spahn, Universität Potsdam
            Frank Cogliano, University of Edinburgh

2:45–3:00pm:  Break

Panel 4, 3:00–4:30pm: From Studying Law to Making Laws: The State in the Legal Commonplace Book

            Stan Katz, Princeton, chair
            Jessica Lowe, UVA
            Christopher Michael Curtis, Georgia Southern-Armstrong
            Ellen Holmes Pearson, UNC-Asheville

5:00–6:00pm: Closing Remarks   McCormick 101

            Introduction: Sean Wilentz, Princeton
            Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard Law

6:00–7:00pm:  Reception

For registration and any questions, contact tjpapers@princeton.edu

Undergraduate Major in Law, History, and Culture

One of the great pleasures of being at USC is getting to work with undergraduates each year as the instructor of Law 101: Law and the U.S. Constitution in Global History. I have this opportunity as a result of USC’s large, innovative and growing Law, History, and Culture (LHC) major and because of USC’s openness to having law professors teach undergraduates. In this post, I describe the genesis and operation of the major, catalog its successes, and note some risks and shortfalls of the project.

The LHC major was originally the brainchild of my colleagues Ariela Gross, Hilary Schor, and Nomi Stolzenberg. It came into existence because of their determination and their ability to frame it as a solution to two inter-school challenges.

Back in the aughts, the proposal was met by resistance. Then, earlier this decade, USC grew receptive. One reason was that the law school and humanities departments faced financial pressures. Law school applications were down nationally. Growing numbers of undergraduates were choosing majors outside the humanities.  Another reason was that USC became invested in providing undergraduates inter-disciplinary and inter-school experiences. Ariela, Hilary, and Nomi knew both dynamics well. They were co-directors of USC’s Center for Law, History, and Culture, which drew together law and humanities scholars from around the university. Seeing their opportunity, they pitched the LHC major as an inter-disciplinary, inter-school way to grow law and humanities enrollments.

The LHC major piggybacked on the community and intellectual project that the Center for Law, History, and Culture had built. It aimed to draw new students to work with faculty in law and the humanities. After all, many students are interested in the humanities but believe (incorrectly in my view) that the humanities are impractical. Adding a legal component could provide an attractive path in.

The major is structured to combine a couple of courses taught by law professors with a much larger number of humanities (and social science) courses. The hope is that courses by law faculty will attract pre-law students and students who want to know a little law without having to go to law school. Once enrolled, the students will get hooked on what the courses illuminate and facilitate: exciting and generative work on the humanistic study of the law.

The LHC major is housed within the History Department and overseen by an interdisciplinary steering committee that I co-chair with my colleague in history, Nathan Perl-Rosenthal.  We have been lucky that those who teach in the major have been willing to serve on the steering committee, attend events, and speak to students.

In terms of attracting students and boosting law enrollment, the major has been a success. The major is large and growing. There are already more LHC majors than pure history majors. My Law 101 course has around three times as many students as all my other law courses combined. The other law course required for the major enrolls about half as many total students as matriculate into USC’s J.D. program each year.

I get great students who are eager, smart, and often from far from knowing that they want to do with their lives. As compared to teaching law students, I make a different kind of difference in their lives and get to lead more free-ranging discussions. Plus, I get to join pedagogical conversations with colleagues in history, religion, English, and other humanities fields.

The major can also advance research by drawing together like-minded professors from disparate departments and schools. I’m currently working with Nathan Perl-Rosenthal on a history of birthright citizenship. Recently, the major facilitated a connection between a law school and a history colleague who share an interest in the quantitative study of medieval legal history. Ability to teach in this thriving major can also be part of what makes a scholar attractive to departments and schools as a potential hire.

There remains work to be done. The promise that the LHC major would boost enrollments across the humanities remains partly aspirational. We hope that a new set of distribution requirements, which will soon be implemented for the major, will help to bring student demand and course supply into closer alignment.

Conversely, there are potential dangers in driving students towards courses in professional schools.  One justification for the LHC major was that it might coax students from the professional schools, sciences, and social sciences back to the humanities.  To the extent that the major is routing humanities students into law courses instead, we may be making the problem worse, not better.

Then there is the problem of expertise. Professional schools have deep experience in educating students who already have their bachelor’s degrees. The college houses the experts in undergraduate education. A resultant expertise and experience gap can result in poorly designed courses and even-worse-designed majors. If a professional school prioritizes graduate students, undergraduates may receive less desirable instructors. Competition for tuition dollars can also encourage reducing course requirements as a lure to students.

The LHC major itself avoids the potential professional-school trap. Tenured and clinical faculty teach the law courses that count toward the major. Those courses were designed in conversation with colleagues in the college and with an eye to serving a major that was neither designed nor housed within the law school. LHC is not a pre-professional major in law, which I don’t think would serve college students well. It instead identifies and takes as its raison d’etre a pre-existing space in which faculty are crossing disciplinary lines to collaborate and produce cutting-edge scholarship. It is thus an attempt to live up to USC’s ballyhooed commitment to interdisciplinarity rather than to pay it mere lip service.

The danger is that the LHC major is an opening wedge for other, more pre-professional law courses. My hope is that it is instead a model of a better approach to involving professional schools in undergraduate education.

--Sam Erman (with gratitude to Nathan Perl-Rosenthal and Hilary Schor for assisting with this post)

Monday, April 29, 2019

"A Dangerous Idea" at the National Constitution Center

A Dangerous Idea, a session on the history of eugenics in the United States, will be held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on May 2, 2019 from 06:30 PM until 08:00 PM. 
Exactly 92 years after the infamous Buck v. Bell decision, the Center presents a partial screening of “A Dangerous Idea: Eugenics, Genetics and the American Dream”—an award-winning documentary exploring the legal history of the eugenics movement in the United States. Following the screening, the film’s executive producer, writer, and attorney Andrew Kimbrell, acclaimed author and journalist Daniel Okrent, and law and bioethics scholars Paul Lombardo and Dorothy Roberts discuss the dark history of eugenics and the Constitution. CLE credit available. A DVD signing with Andrew Kimbrell and book signing with Daniel Okrent will follow the program.
H/t: Main Line Today. --Dan Ernst

Yin on Surrey

George K. Yin, University of Virginia School of Law, has posted “Who Speaks for Tax Equity and Tax Fairness?”: Stanley Surrey and the Tax Legislative Process:
This article examines and assesses Stanley Surrey’s view of the federal tax legislative process. One of the most influential tax professionals of the twentieth century, Surrey is likely best known for his advocacy of specific tax policy ideas. But Surrey saw legislation as the prime route for adoption of most of his ideas, and he thus focused and provided many commentaries on the tax legislative process. He drew on extensive experience with the process, serving two lengthy terms (almost 20 years) in the Treasury Department, and remaining closely involved with it throughout his academic years.

This article shows that Surrey’s faith in expertise and fierce commitment to tax equity and fairness led him to believe that Treasury should play the dominant role in the legislative process. He never wavered in his belief even after his view was vigorously challenged by members of the Senate during his confirmation hearing to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and even following periods when he perceived the Treasury as not acting in the public’s interest. Treasury dominated the tax legislative process during the early years of the modern income tax but it never reached the same level of influence during Surrey’s lifetime. In fact, the changes in the process that Surrey experienced generally moved it further and further away from his preferred outcome. This article provides evidence that some of Surrey’s experiences with congressional staff during his first term in government played a formative role in his thinking. It also suggests that Surrey favored a top-down approach to the legislative process to ease adoption of Treasury’s views.
H/t: Legal Theory Blog

Hinchy on gender and sexuality in colonial India

Out now with Cambridge University Press is Governing Gender and Sexuality in Colonial India: The Hijra, c.1850-1900 by Jessica Hinchy, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. From the press:
Governing Gender and Sexuality in Colonial IndiaIn 1865, the British rulers of north India resolved to bring about the gradual 'extinction' of transgender Hijras. This book, the first in-depth history of the Hijra community, illuminates the colonial and postcolonial governance of gender and sexuality and the production of colonial knowledge. From the 1850s, colonial officials and middle class Indians increasingly expressed moral outrage at Hijras' feminine gender expression, sexuality, bodies and public performances. To the British, Hijras were an ungovernable population that posed a danger to colonial rule. In 1871, the colonial government passed a law that criminalised Hijras, with the explicit aim of causing Hijras' 'extermination'. But Hijras evaded police, kept on the move, broke the law and kept their cultural traditions alive. Based on extensive archival work in India and the UK, Jessica Hinchy argues that Hijras were criminalised not simply because of imported British norms, but due to a complex set of local factors, including elite Indian attitudes.
Praise for the book:

 "This brilliantly researched and highly original book reveals how the colonial state equated gender disorder with political disorder. Highly relevant to contemporary Indian debates on gender, sexuality and law, this is a masterful account of the relationship between colonial governance and gender expression, sexual behaviour, domestic arrangements and intimate relationships." -Clare Anderson

Further information is available here.

-Mitra Sharafi

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Damon J. Keith (1922-2019)

Judge Damon J. Keith (wiki)
Damon J. Keith, both a maker of civil rights history (as a lawyer and 6th Circuit judge) and a preserver of civil rights history (through the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University), died this morning.  The Detroit Free Press's obituary is here.

Update: A message on Judge Keith's death by M. Roy Wilson, President, Wayne State University.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Weekend Roundup

  • Our friends at the Federal Judicial Center have posted the legislation that for the first time increased the size of the US Supreme Court and established a new federal circuit. 
  • Calling all junior scholars of Asian socio-legal studies (including those doing archival research): read up on the Training Initiative for Asian Law & Society Scholars (TRIALS) here. The deadline is June 20, 2019.
  • Update:  When we think of legal-historian spouses of presidential candidates, we of course think of Bruce Mann, a past-president of the ASLH.  The Hill reminds us we should also think of Amy Klobuchar's spouse, John Bessler. Legal historians: they're quite the catch!
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Friday, April 26, 2019

CFP: A Symposium on Water Transport

[We have the following announcement.  The submission deadline is May 30, 2019.  DRE]

Down by the water: Interdisciplinary symposium on the role of water transit points in past societies.  Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Helsinki, 6-8 November, 2019

Waterways have been key factors in the development of societies from prehistoric times to nowadays, particularly due to their role as vectors for cultural interactions, material exchange, and transmission of knowledge. The fluidity of these highways of transport and communications is tightly linked to the presence of transit points: spaces with unique geographical characteristics that acted as nodal points between different communities. Transit points are thus defined as places of intense social contacts, putting objects of physical geography into the domain of social sciences and humanities.

The subject is challenging, as many activities that happen in the aquatic spaces seldom leave substantial archaeological traces behind due to the nature of the activities (for example, some actions take place on board vessels), or the inaccessibility of the archaeological remains (for example, submerged or silted spaces). In some instances, the location might have been obscured by lack of remains, but the impact of those interactions are visible in other ways, such as nautical technology or language exchanges.

Rivers are particularly relevant to language exchanges, as they have been crucial in defining language contact areas in such diverse parts of the world as Amazonia, Northern Europe, and Siberia, among others: in some cases, riverside locations are known to be areas of linguistic similarity resulting from long-term exchange relations between speakers of unrelated languages or from a population spread along a river path. In other areas, riverside locations can be areas of the most linguistic diversity if they serve as a marketplace to which temporarily gather representatives of the otherwise geographically distant language communities

The complex nature of human exchanges in these kind of locations have resulted in the need to develop legal frameworks to mediate interactions, many of which reflect the multiculturality and multi-legality of the actors involved. Taking all this into account, an interdisciplinary perspective with a focus on human-environment interactions is necessary. This sort of approach can help set forth more nuanced theories regarding the relation between social systems and their environment, using data obtained through different disciplines such as iconography, law, computer modelling, ethnography, geography, history, linguistics, environmental sciences, and so on.

While in spaces like the Mediterranean sea-river interactions are included in economic models, in other regions traditional upstream-downstream models, such as Bronson’s model for Southeast Asia, disregard unique environmental and human conditions of each area; and many other areas of the world remain yet undescribed from the perspective of their waterways.  By engaging with interdisciplinary theoretical approaches like the maritime cultural landscape, boat biographies, or language contact studies, researchers will be able to recognize the impact of maritime or fluvial cultures onto their social framework and bring a balance to the narratives of the past in regions with amphibious landscapes.

Organizing committee:
Elisabeth Holmqvist-Sipilä, HCAS
Olesya Khanina, HCAS/ Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences
Emilia Mataix Ferrandiz, HCAS
Veronica Walker Vadillo, HCAS

Op-eds and Amicus Briefs

In a prior post, I mentioned the benefits of having access to a good publicity team at one’s home institution.  Today, I want to talk about the relationship between legal historians and other consumers of the past.

Over the years, LHB has flagged many op-eds and amicus briefs and featured a number of commentaries on the issue. Last May, Christopher Schmidt ruminated that The Art of the Op-Ed was “problematic” because it required “compromise and simplification” and “anachronism and presentism.” Turning to amicus briefs, Greg Ablavsky’s Thoughts on Historians and Advocacy included the concern that “briefs rarely capture the complexity that good history depicts.” In “Say Something Historical!” Tomiko Brown-Nagin recounted how using the past in public advocacy or legal reasoning involves “ways of reasoning about history that often seem dubious to me in my capacity as a professional historian. ”

In a recently published entry in the Oxford Handbook of Legal History entitled “Historians' Amicus Briefs: Practice and Prospect,” Nathan Perl-Rosenthal and I relayed a similar concern.  Some historians who had helped the NAACP’s lawyers craft historical arguments in Brown v. Board of Education had come to have second thoughts. They worried that, “spurred on by their desire to reach a particular outcome, they had drawn conclusions that were not warranted by strict historical methods.”

Notably, Chris, Greg, Tomiko, Nathan, and I agreed that the benefits of engagement outweighed the risks. As Tomiko put it, “Historical arguments are quite attractive and will be made.” Better not to exclude those most qualified and committed “to tell the truest story possible, given the available evidence.”

I agree. But I also wonder if we legal historians should wring our hands a bit less before striding into the public square.

Relating the past to the present is inherent to the historical enterprise. While I value complexity and believe that the past is different from the present, it is living readers for whom I write. Modern concerns shape the topics I choose, the methods I deploy, and the arguments that I make. I experience history as a translation between then and now. I worry that the alternative would be sterile antiquarianism.

On this view, the question isn’t whether it’s appropriate to write op-eds, amicus briefs, and the like, but how.  Nathan and I took a stab at part of that question in our essay.  Where amicus briefs are concerned, the historian must often “speak in a language legible to courts on matters of concern to them, while respecting the court’s distinct areas of authority.” We identified several strategies for striking that balance:
  1. Stop short of arguing that history can decide the final issue
  2. Limit participation in the amicus briefs to experts on the specific topic at issue
  3. Use intermediaries between law and history: lawyers familiar with history, legal historians, or historians willing to learn about law
  4. Provide multiple points of entry into the argument; describe ways that history could support certain arguments; explain why history runs counter to other arguments
  5. Show your work by making your methods explicit
If ever an audience knew more good strategies, it would be LHB readers. I hope you’ll take to the comments to share.

--Sam Erman

New Online from LHR

Just up from Law and History Review on Cambridge Core:

Narratives and Normativity: Totalitarianism and Narrative Change in the European Legal Tradition after World War II
Kaius Tuori

Illegal Under the Laws of All Nations? The Courts of Haiti and the Suppression of the Atlantic Trade in African Captives
Andrew Walker

Sovereignty and Common Law Judicial Office in Taylor's Case (1675)
David Kearns

Campbell on Compelled Subsidies and Original Meaning

Jud Campbell, University of Richmond School of Law, has posted Compelled Subsidies and Original Meaning, which is forthcoming in the First Amendment Law Review 17 (2019): 249-278:
The rule against compelled subsidization of speech is at the forefront of modern First Amendment disputes. Challenges to mandatory union dues, laws preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the federal “contraceptive mandate” have all featured variants of the anti-subsidization principle, reasoning that the government cannot compel people to support the objectionable activities of others. But the literature currently fails to evaluate modern compelled-subsidy doctrine in terms of the original meaning of the First Amendment. This Essay takes up that task.

Approaching any question of original meaning requires a willingness to encounter a constitutional world that looks very different from our own. And that is especially true when it comes to the First Amendment. In certain contexts, some Founders argued that compelled subsidies violated their rights. But these were contested arguments. The challenge, then, is to situate Founding Era ideas in a historical frame that may bear little resemblance to modern law. Such a frame, this Essay argues, indicates that rights of expression and religious exercise — undergirded by freedoms of thought and conscience — neither entirely excluded nor inviolably privileged arguments against compelled subsidies. Rather than providing determinate answers, the Founding-Era conception of rights encouraged active debate about the boundaries of governmental power. Compelled-subsidy doctrine thus sits in a precarious position — within the bounds of reasonable historical argument but also deeply novel in its modern rigidity and judicial enforceability.
H/t: Legal Theory Blog

Felker-Kantor, "Policing Los Angeles"

Browsing the latest podcasts over at the New Books Network, I realized that we never posted an announcement about Max Felker-Kantor's Policing Los Angeles: Race, Resistance, and the Rise of the LAPD, which was published late last year by the University of North Carolina Press. Here's a description from the Press:
When the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts erupted in violent protest in August 1965, the uprising drew strength from decades of pent-up frustration with employment discrimination, residential segregation, and poverty. But the more immediate grievance was anger at the racist and abusive practices of the Los Angeles Police Department. Yet in the decades after Watts, the LAPD resisted all but the most limited demands for reform made by activists and residents of color, instead intensifying its power. 
In Policing Los Angeles, Max Felker-Kantor narrates the dynamic history of policing, anti-police abuse movements, race, and politics in Los Angeles from the 1965 Watts uprising to the 1992 Los Angeles rebellion. Using the explosions of two large-scale uprisings in Los Angeles as bookends, Felker-Kantor highlights the racism at the heart of the city's expansive police power through a range of previously unused and rare archival sources. His book is a gripping and timely account of the transformation in police power, the convergence of interests in support of law and order policies, and African American and Mexican American resistance to police violence after the Watts uprising.
A few blurbs:
"A richly researched study, this book should be read by anyone hoping to understand the intensity of policing in Los Angeles since the 1965 Watts Rebellion. Using new archival finds, it is a page-turning chronicle of race, capitalism, and state violence in the heart of the city."--Kelly Lytle Hernandez 
"A deft combination of political and social history, Policing Los Angeles adds rich depth to the emerging histories of the expanding carceral state in the second half of the twentieth century. With the LAPD as subject, this book is at once a local and a national story of urgent significance."--Dan Berger
And here's the link to the New Books Network author interview.

-- Karen Tani

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Churchill on Victorian crime control

We missed this one when it came out in 2017. It recently won the Socio-Legal Studies Association's 2019 Theory and History Prize. Out with Oxford University Press is Crime Control and Everyday Life in the Victorian City: The Police and the Public by David Churchill, University of Leeds. From the press: 
Cover for 

Crime Control and Everyday Life in the Victorian City

The history of modern crime control is usually presented as a narrative of how the state wrested control over the governance of crime from the civilian public. Most accounts trace the decline of a participatory, discretionary culture of crime control in the early modern era, and its replacement by a centralized, bureaucratic system of responding to offending. The formation of the 'new' professional police forces in the nineteenth century is central to this narrative: henceforth, it is claimed, the priorities of criminal justice were to be set by the state, as ordinary people lost what authority they had once exercised over dealing with offenders.
This book challenges this established view, and presents a fundamental reinterpretation of changes to crime control in the age of the new police. It breaks new ground by providing a highly detailed, empirical analysis of everyday crime control in Victorian provincial cities - revealing the tremendous activity which ordinary people displayed in responding to crime - alongside a rich survey of police organization and policing in practice. With unique conceptual clarity, it seeks to reorient modern criminal justice history away from its established preoccupation with state systems of policing and punishment, and move towards a more nuanced analysis of the governance of crime. More widely, the book provides a unique and valuable vantage point from which to rethink the role of civil society and the state in modern governance, the nature of agency and authority in Victorian England, and the historical antecedents of pluralized modes of crime control which characterize contemporary society.
Praise for the book:

"This is an original and readable book . . . it offers a valuable contribution to the question of how we can attempt to understand everyday responses to social problems in the nineteenth-century city." - Matt Neale

"a substantial and original achievement in criminal justice scholarship." - P. T. Smith

Further information is available here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Holloway on Testimonial Incapacity and Criminal Defendants in the South

We typically don’t post on articles and essays that are inaccessible online, but social histories of evidence law don’t come along every day.  This one is Pippa Holloway, "Testimonial Incapacity and Criminal Defendants in the South," in Crime and Punishment in the Jim Crow South, ed. Natalie Ring and Amy Wood (University of Illinois Press, 2019), 107-129:
This article examines the history of two limitations on witness capacity in the US: prohibitions on court testimony by individuals with infamous or felony convictions and prohibitions on testimony by criminal defendants. Most states had eliminated these laws by the 1880s, but change took a regional pattern. Southern states were more likely than non-southern states to continue prohibitions on testimony by defendants and/or those with former convictions into the late nineteenth and, in some cases, twentieth century. During the 1880s, when most states were expanding access to witness testimony, Alabama, Arkansas and South Carolina narrowed it by barring witness testimony by individuals convicted of misdemeanor larceny. Tennessee prohibited individuals with infamous convictions from testifying in civil cases until 1953, a prohibition that also included misdemeanor larceny. The article begins with the case of a Tennessee coal miner who was denied workers compensation in 1941 because he could not testify to his injury due to a prior misdemeanor larceny conviction. Georgia's prohibition on defendant testimony stayed on the books until 1961 when the US Supreme Court struck it down in Ferguson v. State of Georgia. This chapter documents and offers an explanation for this instance of southern exceptionalism, arguing that it was rooted in the desire to deny legal and civil equality to African Americans that characterized the Jim Crow era.

Newkirk on a Freedman Bureau Court Case

Zachary Newkirk has posted “Full Justice May Be Done Them”: The Case of Bill, Charles, Jupiter, Randolph, et al. v. William A. Carr in Florida Freedmen's Bureau Court, which is forthcoming in the American Journal of Legal History.  Mr. Zachary Newkirk is a law clerk to Chief Judge Mark E. Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.  In 2017 he received a  J.D. and an M.A. in history from Duke University.
A Freedmen's Bureau Office (NYPL)
Immediately after the Civil War, freedmen and freedwomen faced an uncertain legal landscape, caught between former owners, reactionary state courts, and a still-potent federal military presence. A system of federal Freedmen’s Bureau courts provided many freedpeople with a forum to seek justice outside of often-hostile state courts. A remarkably complete set of documents from one Bureau Court in Leon County, Florida, reveals the extent to which freedpeople and local white legal elites used the new federal court for their respective benefits. The case of Bill, Charles, Jupiter, Randolph, et al. v. William A. Carr provides a new analytical framework to consider the post-Civil War legal landscape in the South. Not only were freedpeople eager to appear before these federal tribunals, but Southern white lawyers — facing immense political uncertainty in 1865 and 1866 — were willing to practice in Bureau courts. Both groups’ legal arguments reflected the most pressing issues of the time: fair contracting and compensation for freedpeoples’ labor; the desire for societal order and stability; and competing notions of subjugation over a recently enslaved group versus justice and equality for them. The success of black people in gaining access to the legal system benefited local white communities and especially white professional lawyers through fees, career advancement, and reputation. Meanwhile, the success of white lawyers in forums like the Bureau courts benefited freedmen, presenting them with skilled allies in new judicial spaces where their rights and freedoms could be articulated, defended, and advanced.

2019 Hurst Fellows

The J. Willard Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History at the University if Wisconsin-Madison has announced the 2019 Hurst Fellows:
George Aumoithe (Postdoctoral Research Associate, Princeton University) 
Myisha Eatmon (Ph.D. Candidate, Northwestern University) 
José Argueta Funes (Ph.D. Candidate, Princeton University) 
Aaron Hall (Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University) 
Larissa Kopytoff (Instructor, University of South Florida St. Petersburg) 
Julia Leikin (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Exeter) 
Brianna Nofil (Ph.D. Candidate, Columbia University) 
Emily Prifogle (Ph.D. Candidate, Princeton University) 
Sanne Ravensbergen (Postdoctoral Researcher and Lecturer, Leiden University)
Allison Schwartz (Ph.D. Candidate, University of Minnesota)
Mariam Sheibani (Visiting Research Fellow, Harvard University)
          Jesse Watson (Ph.D. Candidate, University of California, Berkeley)

For more about the fellows and their research projects, follow the link.

As the Hurst Institute's website explains, "the J. Willard Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History is a biennial event sponsored by the Institute for Legal Studies in conjunction with the American Society for Legal History (ASLH). Each Hurst Institute is organized and chaired by a well-known legal historian and includes visiting senior scholars who lead specialized sessions."

Congratulations to all!

-- Karen Tani

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Littleton-Griswold Research Grant Recipients Announced

The American Historical Association has announced the recipients of its Littleton-Griswold Research Grants, which support research in US legal history:
  • Nicole Breault, The Night Watch of Early Boston: Law and Governance in Eighteenth-Century British America
  • Signe Fourmy, They Chose Death over Slavery: Enslaved Women and Infanticide in the Antebellum South
  • Aden Knaap, Judging the World: International Courts and the Origins of Global Governance, 1899–1945

Goluboff on Charlottesville 2017

Risa L. Goluboff, the dean of the University of Virginia School of Law, has posted Foreword: One Year After Charlottesville: Replacing the Resurgence of Racism with Reconciliation, which appears in Virginia Law Review 105 (2019): 101-05:
On August 11 and 12, 2017, Charlottesville, Virginia—the home of the University of Virginia and this law journal—played unwitting host to two days of white nationalist and neo-Nazi rallies and violence. From the moment the events unfolded, it was clear that they resonated beyond Charlottesville itself. They preoccupied observers far flung from Charlottesville both for the violence and loss of life on display and for the stark evidence they provided of deep and enduring fault lines within our nation and our society.

This Foreword introduces a symposium focused on the racial implications and reverberations of August 11-12. The conference that produced these articles brought an annual national meeting of empirical critical race theorists to Charlottesville to train their considerable intellectual talents on the first anniversary of August 11-12. The resulting scholarship asks what we can learn from August 11-12 about the legal underpinnings of white supremacy in the United States, from the beginning of its history to the violence in 2017 and beyond. It investigates the surprise with which so many responded to August 11-12 and shows us why we should not be surprised. The articles in this symposium bring us closer to real and enduring change by requiring and inviting us to remember what has disappeared, to recast the historical narrative, and to ask anew what role the law has played in bringing us to this moment and what role it can and must play in moving us forward once again.

Schoeppner, "Moral Contagion"

New from Cambridge University Press: Moral Contagion: Black Atlantic Sailors, Citizenship, and Diplomacy in Antebellum American (2019), by Michael A. Schoeppner (University of Maine, Farmington). A description from the Press:
Between 1822 and 1857, eight Southern states barred the ingress of all free black maritime workers. According to lawmakers, they carried a 'moral contagion' of abolitionism and black autonomy that could be transmitted to local slaves. Those seamen who arrived in Southern ports in violation of the laws faced incarceration, corporal punishment, an incipient form of convict leasing, and even punitive enslavement. The sailors, their captains, abolitionists, and British diplomatic agents protested this treatment. They wrote letters, published tracts, cajoled elected officials, pleaded with Southern officials, and litigated in state and federal courts. By deploying a progressive and sweeping notion of national citizenship - one that guaranteed a number of rights against state regulation - they exposed the ambiguity and potential power of national citizenship as a legal category. Ultimately, the Fourteenth Amendment recognized the robust understanding of citizenship championed by Antebellum free people of color, by people afflicted with 'moral contagion'.
A few blurbs:
'Schoeppner’s pathbreaking book reconceptualizes the national story of citizenship to include a broader cast of characters and an earlier timeline, demonstrating the significance of the Negro Seamen Acts to American legal history. This elegantly-written work reminds us of the centrality of movement for African Americans as they struggled over the meaning of citizenship rights.' -- Kelly Kennington 
'Mariners stood at the forefront of struggles over US citizenship from the Revolution to the Civil War. In Moral Contagion … Schoeppner reveals how state laws regulating the mobility of black sailors became a focal point for debates in the antebellum period over the substantive rights conferred by national citizenship. Speaking to questions about federal power and racial equality in the Atlantic world, his book will become essential reading for students and scholars interested in the contested history of American citizenship.' -- Nathan Perl-Rosenthal
More information is available here. And here's Professor Schoeppner talking about the book over at the New Books Network.

LHR 36:4

Law and History Review 36:4 (November 2018) is up on Cambridge Core.

In This Issue
Gautham Rao


The Failure of Feminism? Rape Law Reform in the Republic of Ireland, 1980-2017
Ciara Molloy

Déjà Vu and the Gendered Origins of the Practice of Immigration Law: The Immigrants’ Protective League, 1907–40
Felice Batlan

“The Reasonable (Wo)man”: Physicians, Freedom of Contract, and Women's Rights, 1870–1930
Lauren Macivor Thompson

The Quality of Being French versus the Quality of Being Jewish: Defining the Israelite in French Courts in Algeria and the Metropole
Simon Rabinovitch

No-Fault Divorce Reform in the 1950s: The Lost History of the “Greatest Project” of the National Association of Women Lawyers
Laura Oren

Space, Law, and Justice in Leibniz: Leibniz as a Theorist of Spatial Justice
Ekaterina Yahyaoui Krivenko

Civilizational Exceptions: Ottoman Law and Governance in Late Ottoman Palestine
Ahmad Amara

Sources and their Uses

Using the Past and Bridging the Gap: Premodern Islamic Legal Texts in New Media
Mahmood Kooria

Review Essay

In Defense of Progressive Legal Historiography
Laura Kalman

Book Review

Matthew Lockwood, The Conquest of Death: Violence and the Birth of the Modern English State, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. Pp. ix, 404. $85.00 (ISBN: 978-0-300-21706-3).
Sara M. Butler

Xavier Prévost, Jacques Cujas (1522-1590): Jurisconsulte humaniste (Travaux d'Humanisme et Renaissance, 541), Genève: Droz, 2015. Pp. xvi, 590. $122.76 paper (ISBN 978-2-600-01814-2).
Wim Decock

Ditlev Tamm and Helle Vogt, eds., The Danish Medieval Laws: The Laws of Scania, Zealand and Jutland, London: Routledge, 2016. Pp. xiv, 349. $160.00 cloth (ISBN 978-1-138-95135-8); $54.95 ebook (ISBN 978-1-315-64637-4).
Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde

Sergei Antonov, Bankrupts and Usurers of Imperial Russia: Debt, Property, and the Law in the Age of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016. Pp. 386. $49.95 cloth (ISBN 9780674971486).
Catherine Evtuhov

John O. Haley, Law's Political Foundations: Rivers, Rifles, Rice, and Religion, Cheltenham/Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016. Pp. viii, 256. $108.00 cloth (ISBN 9781785368493).
Jaakko Husa

Paul Frymer, Building an American Empire: The Era of Territorial and Political Expansion, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. Pp. 312. $35.00 cloth (ISBN 9780691166056).
Emilie Connolly

Amalia D. Kessler, Inventing American Exceptionalism: The Origins of American Adversarial Legal Culture, 1800–1877, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. Pp. 464. $85.00 cloth (ISBN 9780300198072).
Nicholas R. Parrillo

Cynthia Nicoletti, Secession on Trial: The Treason Prosecution of Jefferson Davis, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017. Pp. 345. $99.99 cloth (ISBN 9781108415521); $29.99 paper (ISBN 9781108401531).
Jonathan W. White

Laura Kalman, The Long Reach of the Sixties: LBJ, Nixon, and the Making of the Contemporary Supreme Court, New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. 488. $34.99 (ISBN-13: 978-0199958221).
Christopher W. Schmidt

Monday, April 22, 2019

Aronson on Judicial Review In Australia

Mark Aronson, University of New South Wales, has posted Retreating to the History of Judicial Review? which is forthcoming in the Federal Law Review:
Less than a decade ago, the High Court said, in effect, that State Supreme Courts have substantially the same entrenched jurisdiction to issue relief in the nature of the prerogative writs as the Constitution confers on the High Court. The New South Wales Court of Appeal reads this narrowly, holding that only three specific remedies are protected, together with the rules and limitations that existed at federation. If correct, we might see the emergence of two bodies of doctrine, the old law of remedies, and the new law of "judicial review" (a concept that emerged only after federation). In an unrelated case, six High Court judges implied a limited privative clause ousting non-jurisdictional certiorari. The seventh judge said that this was unnecessary, because in his view, that branch of certiorari conflicts with judicial review fundamentals, is historically misconceived, and should apply only where the reviewing court can try the matter afresh. This article reviews these developments, discusses their rationales, and questions both the history and its importance.

Burbank on Judicial Independence

Stephen B. Burbank, University of Pennsylvania Law School, has posted Reconsidering Judicial Independence: Forty-Five Years in the Trenches and in the Tower, which is forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online (2019):
Trusting in the integrity of our institutions when they are not under stress, we focus attention on them both when they are under stress or when we need them to protect us against other institutions. In the case of the federal judiciary, the two conditions often coincide. In this essay, I use personal experience to provide practical context for some of the important lessons about judicial independence to be learned from the periods of stress for the federal judiciary I have observed as a lawyer and concerned citizen, and to provide theoretical context for lessons I have deemed significant as a scholar. Experience over the last two years has reminded us that, in times of aspiring authoritarianism in the executive branch and serial subservience in the legislative branch, independent and accountable courts are the bulwark of our freedoms. Those who lived through Watergate should not need the reminder.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

A Better Book: Trust Oneself, then Know Oneself

A week ago I had the pleasure of being on a panel focused on my recent book, Almost Citizens. Sophia Lee asked me a question that zeroed in on one of the book’s core claims: ambiguity often acts as a tool and pathway for legal and political actors seeking to alter constitutional meaning. Sophia’s question also cast into relief the topic of this post: the need both to trust one’s instincts and to interrogate them.

Sophia’s question ran along these lines:
Almost Citizens unfolds in two parts.  The first concerns Federico Degetau, a legal idealist. He believed that the Supreme Court would, if squarely presented with the issue, adhere to settled constitutional understandings and judge Puerto Ricans to be rights-rich U.S. citizens of a future state. That never happened. The book’s second half focuses on Puerto Ricans who use politics to gain rights.  They have more success.  Yet the book is sympathetic to Degetau. The afterword pines for a revival of older constitutional understandings.  So which is it: Is law or politics dominant? Was Degetau savvy or naïve?
I was really happy to get the question.  Sophia had identified the tension between my faith in the autonomy of law and my comprehension that law had no existence apart from the broader world. At a general level, these were strands in legal history that another of last week’s panelists, Bob Gordon, had influentially spelled out 35 years ago. This post concerns how that tension mapped onto my own intuitions and research trajectory.

I was a 1L in law school and had yet to start my doctoral program in American Culture when I first encountered the Insular Cases (1901-1905).  It was thus very much as a lawyer (in the making) that I read these cases remaking the constitutional law of U.S. empire. I was struck by the absence of unequivocally binding doctrine to be found in them. Contrast many historians, who were more likely to notice the justices’ racial rhetoric, their dicta sympathetic to empire, and their failure to rein in colonialism.

My initial interpretation of events ran along formalist lines.  By trusting that I was analyzing the cases correctly, I could distinguish myself from a host of prior work. I argued that other scholars over-read the early Insular Cases. Downes v. Bidwell (1901) had no majority opinion. It thus could not have invented as binding doctrine the proposition that Puerto Rico was unincorporated, hence neither destined for statehood nor entitled to non-fundamental constitutional rights.  Gonzales v. Williams (1904) expressly declined to decide whether Puerto Ricans were U.S. citizens, so it did not hold that they were noncitizen nationals.  A justice firmly opposed to the doctrine of territorial nonincorporation joined the majority opinion in Dorr v. United States (1904), so it made little sense to identify that decision as establishing the doctrine as binding law.  Nor was Rasmussen v. United States (1905) a promising candidate. Its author, Justice Edward White, sought to influence how the Supreme Court reporter depicted the decision because he worried that the decision would not settle the question.

But as I moved from dissertation more firmly to book, I gained insight into my predilections.  I was overinvested in Puerto Rico’s first elected representative to Washington, the brilliant lawyer Federico Degetau y González.  As Sophia observed, Degetau shared my soft spot for legal formalism. He knew that citizenship, full constitutional rights, and eventual statehood were the constitutional consequences of annexation under the settled late-nineteenth-century constitutional understandings that I term the Reconstruction Constitution. He saw that new precedents had not overturned the prior case law.  And he expected law to tame politics if courts were provided the proper opportunity. He was wrong.

The more that I researched, the clearer it became that everyone around Degetau saw his legal quest as quixotic.  He left office politically isolated. He made little progress toward citizenship, full constitutional rights, or eventual statehood.  The Court was not opposed to empire and would not confront and overawe politics. The justices were caught between competing impulses: adhere to settled constitutional understandings and avoid dooming the U.S. imperial experiment.

By gaining perspective on Degetau (and myself), I was able to reinterpret the Court’s fractured, evasive decisions.  The justices were not silent on empire; they had not simply left prior constitutional doctrine in place.  The Court was productively ambiguous (for more on legal ambiguity as the handmaiden of empire, see Katrina Quisumbing King’s excellent dissertation-now-book-project). To reconcile the Constitution and empire, it cooperated with nonjudicial actors in a slow, creative process characterized by judicial vagueness.  This became a key claim of the book. Constitutional revolutions are not always marked by landmark cases.  Sometimes they are hidden behind fractured decisions, underdefined terms, narrow holdings, suggestive dicta, and the legal innovations and on-the-ground decisions of bureaucrats, lawmakers, and presidents.

That leads to my answer to Sophia’s questions.  Law never dominated politics. But during the late nineteenth century, the Reconstruction Constitution did slow down imperialistic projects.  As a result, I think there’s value to pursuing a politics dedicated to lodging key commitments in constitutional law.  On that front, we could do worse than to resurrect aspects of the Reconstruction Constitution.  As to Degetau, he was both savvy and naïve.  He was a genius at ginning up citizenship disputes all across the federal government.  But he was overoptimistic in his assessment of the promise of a purely legal strategy.  In making that mistake, he resembles me. I frequently find myself disappointed that courts do not more fully vindicate their professed precedential commitments.  Had I been an elite advocate for Puerto Rico in the early twentieth century, I might have backed Degetau. The value of taking years to write the book decades after the events it depicted were over is that I was able to convey both the attractions and the perils of my and Degetau’s mistaken premise.

--Sam Erman

Weekend Roundup

  • “Nativism, White Power, and Anti-Immigrant Violence,” a conference hosted by the University of Chicago’s History Department, continues today.  More.
  • Congratulations to Jane De Hart on her naming as this year’s recipient of Duke’s Distinguished Alumni Award!
  • Good on the Organization of American Historians for speaking out against the deleterious effects of the recent shutdown on history and government historians!
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Oller's "White Shoe"

John Oller, a retired partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, has published White Shoe: How a New Breed of Wall Street Lawyers Changed Big Business and the American Century (Penguin Random House):
The legal profession once operated on a smaller scale—folksy lawyers arguing for fairness and justice before a judge and jury. But by the year 1900, a new type of lawyer was born, one who understood business as well as the law. Working hand in glove with their clients, over the next two decades these New York City “white shoe” lawyers devised and implemented legal strategies that would drive the business world throughout the twentieth century. These lawyers were architects of the monopolistic new corporations so despised by many, and acted as guardians who helped the kings of industry fend off government overreaching. Yet they also quietly steered their robber baron clients away from a “public be damned” attitude toward more enlightened corporate behavior during a period of progressive, turbulent change in America.

Author John Oller, himself a former Wall Street lawyer, gives us a richly-written glimpse of turn-of-the-century New York, from the grandeur of private mansions and elegant hotels and the city’s early skyscrapers and transportation systems, to the depths of its deplorable tenement housing conditions. Some of the biggest names of the era are featured, including business titans J. P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, lawyer-statesmen Elihu Root and Charles Evans Hughes, and presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson.

Among the colorful, high-powered lawyers vividly portrayed, White Shoe focuses on three: Paul Cravath, who guided his client George Westinghouse in his war against Thomas Edison and launched a new model of law firm management—the “Cravath system”; Frank Stetson, the “attorney general” for financier J. P. Morgan who fiercely defended against government lawsuits to break up Morgan’s business empires; and William Nelson Cromwell, the lawyer “who taught the robber barons how to rob,” and was best known for his instrumental role in creating the Panama Canal.

In White Shoe, the story of this small but influential band of Wall Street lawyers who created Big Business is fully told for the first time.

CFP: Constitution and Citizenship Day at SFSU

[We have the following call for papers, presentations, and panels.]

“Rights and Wrongs: A Constitution and Citizenship Day Conference at San Francisco State University,” 16-17 September 2019

 We welcome proposals for papers, presentations, panels, roundtables, teach-ins, and workshops at “Rights and Wrongs: A Constitution and Citizenship Day Conference,” which will take place on Monday and Tuesday, 16-17 September 2019.

Over the last few years, people living in the United States have participated in far-reaching debates and discussions about the U.S. Constitution. Many of these conversations have focused on democratic governance and its relationship to state and federal elections, foreign collusion and domestic conspiracy, political and ethical corruption, voting rights, legislative redistricting, and presidential impeachment. Some have addressed core constitutional principles related to the separation of powers, checks and balances, and federal-state relationships. Others have concerned specific constitutional provisions such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, separation of church and state, privacy rights, rights to bear arms, protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, birthright citizenship, due process rights, and rights of equal protection. Meanwhile, some of the most polarizing national discussions of 2017, 2018, and 2019—about racialized policing, immigration restriction, sanctuary cities, health care, sexual harassment, LGBT rights, hate speech, and gun control—have been framed as matters of constitutional meaning and significance. Just as important and revealing are the constitutional topics that much of the country has not been considering, including the rights of indigenous, colonized, incarcerated, and institutionalized peoples on lands currently claimed by the United States.

What have we thought about the Constitution in the past and what do we think of it today? When, how, and why have we thought about the Constitution? How has the Constitution been used as a legal and cultural touchstone in the past and present? Has the Constitution supported the expansion of citizenship, democracy, and equality or has it produced, preserved, and promoted social hierarchies? What does the Constitution reveal and obscure? Is the United States experiencing constitutional crises? Have the country’s recent political troubles exposed longstanding problems with or new threats to the U.S. constitutional order? Can the history of the U.S. Constitution serve as a resource for people troubled by today’s uses and abuses of U.S. power and politics? For those seeking social change, is the Constitution an opportunity or obstacle? Can and should it be followed, changed, modified, or abandoned? Who makes meaning out of the U.S. Constitution and what meanings are made? What are the implications of our interpretations and transformations of the U.S. Constitution?

Please join us to discuss these and other issues at “Rights and Wrongs.” San Francisco State University has a proud tradition of sponsoring Constitution and Citizenship Day conferences. Last year’s event was sponsored by the College of Liberal and Creative Arts and cosponsored by fourteen other colleges, schools, departments, centers, and campus organizations at SF State. More than 1000 faculty, students, and community members attended the event, which featured two keynote presentations and approximately forty faculty, graduate student, and community-based presenters, representing fourteen colleges, universities, and non-governmental organizations. As was the case last year, the 2019 conference will provide multiple opportunities to reflect critically on the past, present, and future of constitutional rights and freedoms and larger questions about equality, democracy, and justice.

Proposals for papers, presentations, panels, roundtables, teach-ins, and workshops (maximum 250 words) should be submitted by 20 June 2019 to marcs@sfsu.edu. We welcome individual and group submissions. Please submit short vitas/resumes for all participants.

[Lists of recommended topics and the members of Organizing  Committee appear after the jump.]