Monday, May 31, 2021

McMurtry-Chubb, "Race Unequals: Overseer Contracts, White Masculinities, and the Formation of Managerial Identity in the Plantation Economy"

Rowman & Littlefield has published Race Unequals: Overseer Contracts, White Masculinities, and the Formation of Managerial Identity in the Plantation Economy (May 2021), by Teri A. McMurtry-Chubb (University of Illinois at Chicago). A description from the Press:

Race Unequals: Overseer Contracts, White Masculinities, and the Formation of Managerial Identity in the Plantation Economy is a re-imagining of the plantation not as Black and White, but in shades of White male identity. Through an examination of employment contracts between plantation owners and their overseers, and the web of public and private law that surrounded them, this book challenges notions of a monolithic White male identity in the antebellum South. It considers how race provided White men access to the land and enslaved labor that were foundational to the plantation economy, but how the wealthiest of those men used contracts, public law, and plantation management schemes to limit the access points by which overseers, the first managerial class in the United States, could achieve upward mobility as both White people and as men. In navigating the legal and social parameters of their employment contracts, overseers negotiated a white masculinity that formed their managerial identity. This managerial identity carried the imprint of white supremacy necessary to preserve inequities on the plantation, and perhaps in our modern workplaces as well.

A sample of advance praise:

Race Unequals is a nuanced and gripping portrayal of the world of white men who exercised power over enslaved people without legal ownership. Overseers at once stood in the shoes of the enslaver, brandishing the whip and chain, and themselves negotiated a subordinate position in white society, often in conflict with the planters who employed them. McMurtry-Chubb’s painstaking research in the records of contracts, litigation, and planters’ account books reveals the complexities of white masculinity in a world stratified by wealth as well as race, yet she also brings her subjects to life with an unerring eye for the telling detail and memorable story. — Ariela Gross

Meticulously researched and gracefully written, Race Unequals is an important chapter in the history of management. It moves tellingly from plantations, to legislatures, to courtrooms in the antebellum South. Vivid accounts of litigation—especially over planter regulation of overseers’ abuse of slaves and concerning what now would be called 'wage theft'—animate this intelligent examination of intraracial class conflicts among whites, their gendered dimensions, and their impacts on the lives of the enslaved.  — David Roediger

More information is available here.

-- Karen Tani

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Weekend Roundup

  • John Marshall (NYPL)
    The University of Illinois at Chicago changes the name of the John Marshall Law School Law to the UI-Chicago School of Law (Chicago Tribune).
  • This week, Balkinization is hosting a symposium on Kate Masur's Until Justice Be Done: America's First Civil Rights Movement, From the Revolution to Reconstruction (W. W. Norton & Company, 2021).  Commentators are Laura Edwards (Princeton), Mark Graber (Maryland), Michael Les Bendict (Ohio State), Sanford Levinson (Texas), Gerard Magliocca (Indiana), William Novak (Michigan), Kunal Parker (Miami), and Allison Tirres (DePaul).
  • "Uncovering Racist Housing Practices, One Deed At A Time": Racially Restrictive Covenants in Durham, North Carolina (NC Public Radio).
  •  On June 9, 2021 Noon, EDT, the Supreme Court Historical Society hosts Marlene Trestman discussing “Bessie Margolin, Fair Labor Lawyer Before the Supreme Court.”  Trestman is the author of Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin.  Tickets are free to members and $25 for non-members.  Register.

  • ICYMI: Hugo Black’s Alexandria, VA, house to be renovated after court challenge (WaPo).

Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Kahn, "Divorce, American Style"

The University of Pennsylvania Press has published Divorce, American Style: Fighting for Women's Economic Citizenship in the Neoliberal Era (May 2021), by Suzanne Kahn (Roosevelt Institute). A description from the Press:

In the 1970s, the divorce rate in the United States doubled, and longtime homemakers suddenly found themselves at risk of poverty, not only because their husband's job was their sole source of income, but also because their insurance, retirement, and credit worthiness were all tied to their spouse's employment. Divorce, American Style examines how newly divorced women and policymakers responded to the crisis that rising divorce rates created for American society.

Suzanne Kahn shows that, ironically, rising divorce rates led to policies that actually strengthened the social insurance system's use of marriage to determine eligibility for benefits. Large numbers of newly divorced women quickly realized their invisibility within the American welfare state, which did not distribute benefits to most women directly but rather through their husbands. These newly divorced women organized themselves into a political force, and they were remarkably successful in securing legislation designed to address divorced women's needs. But this required significant compromise with policymakers, and these new laws specifically rewarded intact marriages, providing more robust benefits to women in longer marriages. These incentives remain in place today. Indeed, in the thirty years since this legislative compromise, activists' efforts to grapple with the legal system created out of this crisis have affected such high-profile debates as the fight over the Affordable Care Act and the battle for marriage equality.

Divorce, American Style contests the frequent claim that marriage has become a more flexible legal status over time. Enduring ideas about marriage and the family continue to have a powerful effect on the structure of a wide range of social programs in the United States.

More information is available here.

-- Karen Tani


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Likhovski on Max Laserson, "Borderland Jurist"

Assaf Likhovski, Tel Aviv University Buchmann Faculty of Law, has posted The Many Exiles of Max Laserson:

The life of the Jewish-Latvian-Russian-American legal scholar Max Laserson was punctuated by emigration and exile. This article explores the impact that this experience had on his scholarship. While Laserson’s audience and research topics changed as he moved from place to place, his origins as both a Jew and a native of Latvia, a borderland region between East and West, influenced his scholarship throughout his life. Wherever he lived, he became a "borderland jurist," an intermediary who transplanted foreign ideas to a local audience. 

--Dan Ernst

McQuade on terrorism and colonial law

 Joseph McQuade (University of Toronto) published A Genealogy of Terrorism: Colonial Law and the Origins of an Idea with Cambridge University Press in 2020. From the publisher: 

Using India as a case study, Joseph McQuade demonstrates how the modern concept of terrorism was shaped by colonial emergency laws dating back into the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Beginning with the 'thugs', 'pirates', and 'fanatics' of the nineteenth century, McQuade traces the emerging and novel legal category of 'the terrorist' in early twentieth-century colonial law, ending with an examination of the first international law to target global terrorism in the 1930s. Drawing on a wide range of archival research and a detailed empirical study of evolving emergency laws in British India, he argues that the idea of terrorism emerged as a deliberate strategy by officials seeking to depoliticize the actions of anti-colonial revolutionaries, and that many of the ideas embedded in this colonial legislation continue to shape contemporary understandings of terrorism today.

Praise for the book:

"A brilliant deconstruction of the colonial prose of counter-terrorism and its post-colonial legacy, McQuade's book provides new insights into how legal states of exception were crafted to delegitimize revolutionary violence. A must read for anyone wishing to understand the true nature of British ‘rule of law' in India and its global ramifications." - Sugata Bose

"The declaration of a global war on terrorism in 2001 did not come out of the clear blue sky. Instead, as Joseph McQuade demonstrates in this brilliantly conceived and researched genealogy, some of its most forgotten roots lie in Britain's colonial administration in India and its diplomatic efforts on the world stage. An essential contribution to imperial and international legal history." - Samuel Moyn

Further information is available here.

--Mitra Sharafi

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Kent on Qualified Immunity and 19th-Century Federal Officers

Andrew Kent, Fordham University School of Law, has posted Lessons for Bivens and Qualified Immunity Debates from Nineteenth-Century Damages Litigation against Federal Officers, which appears in Notre Dame Law Review  96 (2021): 1755-1788:

This Essay was written for a symposium marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. As the current Court has turned against Bivens—seemingly confining it to three specific contexts created by Bivens and two follow-on decisions in 1979 and 1980—scholars and litigants have developed a set of claims to respond to the Court’s critique. The Court now views the judicially-created Bivens cause of action and remedy as a separation-of-powers foul; Congress is said to the institution which should weigh the costs and benefits of allowing constitutional tort suits against federal officers for damages, especially in areas like national security or foreign affairs in which the political branches might be thought to have constitutional primacy. Scholarly writing and litigation briefs critical of the Court’s treatment of Bivens now frequently focus on damages suits under common law or general law against American government officers in the early republic, reading them as giving Bivens a quasi-originalist pedigree. This historical writing about officer damages suits claims that courts in the early republic: acted independently of Congress to impose significant restraints on federal officers; protected persons from federal overreach no matter their citizenship and territorial location, and even during wartime; and refused to grant anything like qualified immunity that might have softened the blow of strict personal liability and promoted government efficiency. Common law damages suits against federal officers are said to have remained routinely available until after Bivens was decided when, in the 1988 Westfall Act, Congress barred state-law tort suits against federal officers acting within the scope of their employment.

Through case studies of litigation against federal officers involved in customs enforcement and maritime seizures, this Essay qualifies and revises these claims. In those two contexts, I show that there was substantial political branch endorsement of personal damages liability of federal officers in the early republic, but as material and legal conditions changed over the nineteenth century, Congress moved away from officer suits as a means of ensuring accountability of federal officers and compensation of persons harmed by official illegality. Further, in high stakes contexts for the young republic—wartime prize seizures and peacetime anti-piracy seizures—the Supreme Court did in fact apply immunity doctrines to protect officers and incentivize vigor. Finally, alien enemy disability to sue in U.S. courts during wartime must be acknowledged as a significant limit the protective reach of the officer damages suit. I conclude with thoughts about the implications of this somewhat revised view of the history of damages litigation against federal officers.
--Dan Ernst

Lew-Williams, "Paper Lives of Chinese Migrants and the History of the Undocumented"

Modern American History has published an article that looks to be of interest to LHB readers: "Paper Lives of Chinese Migrants and the History of the Undocumented," by Beth Lew-Williams (Princeton University). Here's the abstract:

Historians know a great deal more about the laws and policies that first created unauthorized status than the people who had to live within these constraints. What if we tell the history of the undocumented as a history of a people, rather than a history of a state-constructed category? Scholars have noted that unauthorized status exerts broad effects on the conditions of migrants’ everyday lives, but they have focused primarily on Latinx migrants in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The case of unauthorized migrants produced by the Chinese exclusion laws (1882–1943) demonstrates how the study of the undocumented must begin a century earlier. In order to denaturalize the conditions of the present, we must interrogate the shifting nature of undocumented life in the past.
Read on here.

-- Karen Tani

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Banner's "Decline of Natural Law"

Stuart Banner, UCLA Law, has recently published The Decline of Natural Law: How American Lawyers Once Used Natural Law and Why They Stopped (Oxford University Press), “an account of a fundamental change in American legal thought, from a conception of law as something found in nature to one in which law is entirely a human creation.”

Before the late 19th century, natural law played an important role in the American legal system. Lawyers routinely used it in their arguments and judges often relied upon it in their opinions. Today, by contrast, natural law plays virtually no role in the legal system. When natural law was part of a lawyer's toolkit, lawyers thought of judges as finders of the law, but when natural law dropped out of the legal system, lawyers began thinking of judges as makers of the law instead.

In The Decline of Natural Law, the eminent legal historian Stuart Banner explores the causes and consequences of this change. To do this, Banner discusses the ways in which lawyers used natural law and why the concept seemed reasonable to them. He further examines several long-term trends in legal thought that weakened the position of natural law, including the use of written constitutions, the gradual separation of the spheres of law and religion, the rapid growth of legal publishing, and the position of natural law in some of the 19th century's most contested legal issues. And finally, he describes both the profession's rejection of natural law in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the ways in which the legal system responded to the absence of natural law.

The first book to explain how natural law once worked in the American legal system, The Decline of Natural Law offers a unique look into how and why this major shift in legal thought happened, and focuses, in particular, on the shift from the idea that law is something we find to something we make.
--Dan Ernst

Blackhawk, Rosenblum to NYU Law

The New York University School of Law has announced the hiring of four new faculty members. Among them are Maggie Blackhawk (currently at the University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law) and Noah Rosenblum (currently a Golieb Fellow at NYU Law). From the announcement:

Maggie Blackhawk comes to NYU Law from the University of Pennsylvania, where she started as an assistant professor of law in 2017 and was recently voted tenure. Her teaching and scholarship focus on legislation, constitutional law, and federal Indian law. Blackhawk is the author of pathbreaking scholarship on the Petition Clause, equity outside the courts, and the place of federal Indian law in U.S. public law. Previously, she was a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. Blackhawk earned her law degree from Stanford Law School, where she served as a senior managing & articles editor of the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties. After graduating, she worked in private practice and clerked for Judge Susan Graber of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Chief Judge James Ware of the US District Court for the Northern District of California.    

. . .

Noah Rosenblum earned his law degree from Yale Law School, where he served as articles editor of the Yale Law Journal and received the Joseph Parker Prize in Legal History. He is slated to earn his PhD in history from Columbia University this year. After graduating from law school, he clerked for Judge Jenny Rivera ’85 of the New York Court of Appeals and then for Judge Guido Calabresi of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Rosenblum has most recently been a Samuel I. Golieb Fellow in Legal History at NYU Law. His teaching and scholarship interests are in legal history, administrative law, constitutional law, and legal ethics and professional responsibility.

Congratulations to Professors Blackhawk and Rosenblum, and congratulations to NYU Law!

-- Karen Tani

Daly on making the state of Biafra

Our April guest blogger, Samuel Fury Childs Daly (Duke) published the following article in 2020: "A nation on paper: Making a state in the Republic of Biafra," Comparative Studies in Society and History 62:4, 868-94. Here's the abstract: 

What role did law play in articulating sovereignty and citizenship in postcolonial Africa? Using legal records from the secessionist Republic of Biafra, this article analyzes the relationship between law and national identity in an extreme context—that of the Nigerian Civil War (1967–1970). Ideas about order, discipline, and legal process were at the heart of Biafra's sense of itself as a nation, and they served as the rhetorical justification for its secession from Nigeria. But they were not only rhetoric. In the turmoil of the ensuing civil war, Biafra's courts became the center of its national culture, and law became its most important administrative implement. In court, Biafrans argued over what behaviors were permissible in wartime, and judges used law to draw the boundaries of the new country's national identity. That law played this role in Biafra shows something broader about African politics: law, bureaucracy, and paperwork meant more to state-making than declensionist views of postcolonial Africa usually allow. Biafra failed as a political project, but it has important implications for the study of law in postcolonial Africa, and for the nation-state form in general.

Further information is available here.

--Mitra Sharafi 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Plessy v. Ferguson at 125

Kenneth Mack on what the decision meant and why it still matters, in Harvard Law Today.

Essays on Lawyers and International Politics

Here’s a collection of essays we might have missed: Crafting the International Order: Practitioners and Practices of International Law since c.1800, edited by Marcus M. Payk and Kim Christian Priemel (Oxford University Press):

This volume sheds light on how lawyers have made sense of, engaged in, and shaped international politics over the past three hundred years. Chapters show how politicians and administrators, diplomats and military men, have considered their tasks in legal terms, and how the field of international relations has been filled with the distinctly legal vocabulary of laws, regulations, treaties, agreements, and conventions.

Leading experts in the field provide insights into what it means when concrete decisions are taken, negotiations led, or controversies articulated and resolved by legal professionals. They also inquire into how the often-criticised gaps between juristic standards and everyday realities can be explained by looking at the very medium of law. Rather than sorting people and problems into binary categories such as "law" and "politics" or "theory" and "practice," the case studies in this volume reflect on these dichotomies and dissolve them into the messy realities of conflicts and interactions which take place in historically contingent situations, and in which international lawyers assume varying personas.
TOC after the jump. 

–Dan Ernst

Milligan on Federally Subsidized Racial Discrimination

Joy Milligan, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, although on her way to the University of Virginia School of Law, has posted Remembering: The Constitution and Federally Funded Apartheid, which is forthcoming in the University of Chicago Law Review:

For much of the twentieth century, the U.S. government authorized and invested heavily in segregation and racial inequality. Often it did so through federal programs authorized under Congress’ Spending Clause powers, which allowed powerful national investments in areas like health, education, and housing, but frequently created segregated hospitals, schools, and communities. From the New Deal forward, Black leaders pressed constitutional arguments to hold the federal government responsible for its role in deepening racial inequality. Within the federal government, lawyers and administrators recognized the strength of those arguments but decided against halting federal involvement in Jim Crow.

Decades later, the civil rights advocates finally prevailed. By the 1970s, it was black-letter law that the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection component barred federal subsidies or support for racial discrimination. The same “no-aid” principle was codified in the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, from the 1980s onward the hard-won constitutional mandate became increasingly difficult to enforce, blocked by judicially-constructed procedural obstacles. The substantive Fifth Amendment ideal receded, due to increasing challenges to its substance, judicial fatigue with institutional oversight, and the sweeping scope of the problem—along with collective amnesia regarding the prior decades of constitutional struggle.

This Article reveals that forgotten history, breaking the constitutional silence that has fallen over the Fifth Amendment. I argue that the Fifth Amendment norm, and the underlying reality of long-term federal participation in racial apartheid, should no longer be ignored. The costs of doing so are significant: civil rights frameworks have been distorted, leaving no systemic check or means of redress for the discriminatory use of federal funds. Further, the nation’s constitutional memory and deliberations have been shortchanged. Even if the judiciary remains unwilling to enforce the no-aid principle, other actors should revive it. Our polity should again debate federal constitutional responsibility for Spending Clause programs, and, in doing so, confront the nation’s obligation to repair the apartheid it once bankrolled.
–Dan Ernst

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Weekend Roundup

  • Guestblogger update: due to unforeseen circumstances, we'll be taking a rain check on Laurie Wood's posts this month. We look forward to welcoming Laurie back at a later date.
  • Nicholas Bagley, Philip Hamburger, Jennifer Mascott, Nicholas Parrillo, and Judge Neomi Rao discuss originalism and the nondelegation doctrine on the Federalist Society's YouTube channel.
  • "The Tamil Nadu National Law University will be hosting the second All India Legal History Congress on May 21 and 22" (The Hindu).
  • The Law and Humanities Workshop of the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, will host a symposium on Eric Nelson's The Theology of Liberalism: Political Philosophy and the Justice of God on Wednesday, June 16th 2021, 16:30 Jerusalem / 09:30 EST, with Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study; Paul Horwitz, University of Alabama; Ayelet Hoffmann Libson, Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya; and Micah J. Schwartzman, University of Virginia.  Register here.
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Supreme Court Justices's Circuit Court Opinions

The Federal Judicial Center has just launched the on-line exhibit, The Justices’ Circuit Court Opinions:

This exhibit summarizes selected opinions and grand jury charges delivered by justices of the Supreme Court in the course of their duties on the U.S. circuit courts, the main trial courts of the federal judiciary from 1789 to 1911. As a whole, the exhibit is intended to highlight the important role the U.S. circuit courts played in American legal history as well as the often-overlooked contributions to those courts made by the justices of the Supreme Court.

--Dan Ernst

Law on Progressive Regulation and Austrian Economics

Marc T. Law, an economist at the University of Vermont, has posted Understanding the Rise of Regulation during the Progressive Era: What Role for Austrian Economics?

In this essay I selectively survey the economic history literature on the rise of regulation in America during the Progressive Era with the goal of identifying how this literature is informed by Austrian economic theory, and how Austrian theory might contribute to our understanding of the origins and growth of the regulatory state. I argue that much of the literature on the origins of Progressive Era regulation is consistent with the positive aspects of Austrian economics, largely because Austrian theory overlaps with public choice theory, the analytical toolkit used by most studies of the rise of regulation. However, the normative implications of Austrian theory regarding the efficiency consequences of regulation are not always supported by the literature on the Progressive Era. I also discuss two ways in which Austrian theory might add to our understanding of the rise of regulation during this period. The first concerns the dynamics of how regulation evolves. The second concerns the role of entrepreneurship within the bureaucracy in shaping the evolution and enforcement of regulation. 

--Dan Ernst

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Dialogues on Otherness in Comparative Legal History

[We have the following announcement.  DRE]

Comparative Legal History: Dialogues on Otherness in Comparative Legal History, 15 June 2021 - 17:00-18:00hs (CEST)

The journal Comparative Legal History is an official academic forum of the European Society for Comparative Legal History. It was first published in 2013 and aims to offer a space for the development of comparative legal history. Based in Europe, it welcomes contributions that explore law in different times and jurisdictions from across the globe. Submissions are currently welcome and are being assessed on a rolling basis.

The journal will host a one-hour public session to discuss on how to deal with otherness in comparative legal history. Editors (past and present) will present exploratory points and all attendees will be invited to join in a general discussion.

Otherness is a multidimensional topic. It can relate to, inter alia, methods, disciplines, literature, culture, systems, and time periods. Otherness is needed when crossing time and space, it is needed when seeking for answers within and beyond specific environments. Exposure to otherness can only be beneficial for the disciplinary growth of comparative legal history.

The event is free and open to the public, and it will take place via Zoom.  Registration is required by sending an email to

CFP: Reckoning with Empire

 [We share the following Call for Papers. The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2021.]

Reckoning with Empire: The Right to Self-Determination in Historical View

Organizers: Charlotte Kiechel and Samuel Moyn, Yale University

Location: New Haven, CT, USA

Dates of event: 12-13 Nov. 2021

Deadline: 31 May 2021

This November, Yale University will be hosting a conference to mark and celebrate the 60th Anniversary of UN Declaration against Colonialism

On December 14, 1960, the UN General Assembly concluded a historic act. With a vote of 89 supporters and no dissenters, it passed UN Resolution 1514, “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.” In doing so, it enshrined the right to self-determination and dealt a powerful blow against empire.

What was the legacy of Resolution 1514? How did it redefine the stakes of anti-colonial protest throughout the Global South and North? What conceptual difficulties and political challenges arose because of activists’ use of this right? And finally, how did activists – in deploying the language of the UN – reimagine the world and create new ties of solidarity of their very own?

“Reckoning with Empire: The Right to Self-Determination in Historical View” will provide an interdisciplinary forum to engage these questions. Rather than focusing on Resolution 1514’s afterlives in the narrow confines of diplomatic history and international law, conference organizers propose widening our lens on the right to self-determination and its many instantiations. As such, the conference will feature recent work in social, cultural, and political history. The conference will pay special attention to scholarship which exposes the political and discursive power that Resolution 1514 yielded in establishing global ties of protest, solidarity, and critique.

The conference will take place from November 12-13th, 2021 at Yale University’s campus in New Haven, CT. An in-person conference is currently planned. Conference planners, however, will abide by all health and safety protocols and will follow Yale University’s changing campus guidelines.

Professor Adom Getachew, the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago, will deliver the conference’s keynote address.

Conference organizers Charlotte Kiechel and Samuel Moyn encourage scholars at all stages of their careers to apply. They aim to build the most inclusive academic community possible. Interested participants should submit a proposal which engages with the right to self-determination and does so along the following themes:

- Worldmaking

- Anti-colonial Lawyering

- Contemporary Social Justice Movements

- Black Transatlantic Thought

- Gender and Internationalism

- Grassroots Anti-Atrocity Campaigns

- Indigenous Rights

- Cultural and Intellectual Movements against Empire

- South-to-South Connections

- Global Intellectual History

Interested presenters should email their CV and a 300-word abstract of their proposed paper to The deadline for submission is May 31, 2021. Queries can be directed to

Contact (announcement)

--posted by Mitra Sharafi

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Munshi on Johnson v. M'Intosh

Sherally Munshi, Georgetown University Law Center, has posted "The Court of the Conqueror": Colonialism, the Constitution, and the Time of Redemption, which is forthcoming in Law's Infamy: Understanding the Canon of Bad Law, eds. Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, and Martha M. Umphrey (NYU Press 2021):

Within the constitutional imaginary, colonialism is often represented as a regrettable prehistory to the founding of the nation, an event that conditioned the founding of the revolutionary republic but is not constitutive of it.  Moreover, the constitution itself is invested with the faith that the United States will slowly but eventually overcome its founding sins.  But if the arc of constitutional redemption is defined by the eventual repudiation of infamous race cases—Dred Scott v. Sanford and Korematsu v. United States—then a case like Johnson v. M’Intosh is revealing of the ways in which law continues to place colonial power beyond the scope of constitutional review, historical redress, and national progress.  In Johnson, the Supreme Court recognized that the federal government had the extraordinary power to assert its authority over indigenous peoples, a power which “the Courts of the Conqueror cannot deny.”  That extra-constitutional power, inherent to sovereignty, has since been formalized in the plenary power doctrine, according to which the federal government continues to assert unilateral authority over matters involving Indians, immigrants, and peoples in the United States’ overseas colonies.  As such Johnson and its unfolding legacy represent the stillness of sovereignty, a colonial power that stands beyond the time of redemption. 
--Dan Ernst

Blackhawk, "On Power & the Law: McGirt v. Oklahoma"

Maggie Blackhawk (University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School) has posted "On Power & the Law: McGirt v. Oklahoma," which is forthcoming in the Supreme Court Review. Here's the abstract:

This Essay aims to translate federal Indian law and the success of McGirt in order to demonstrate the broad purchase of these lessons for understanding the relationship between power and law, as well as for theories of legal change more generally. The body of law called federal Indian law is often considered sui generis and banished to a “tiny backwater” because of the counterintuitive nature of the doctrine. Federal Indian law is often viewed as counterintuitive because it does not comport with the general principles of public law—most paradigmatically, the federal government recognizes the sovereignty of Native nations to operate as enclave states within the territorial borders of the United States. McGirt could be considered yet another instance of its “exceptional” nature. But what if the field only appears counterintuitive because it successfully wields law in defiance of a contrary world view? Perhaps the most valuable lessons of federal Indian law rest in unthinkable moments like McGirt, when the unthinkable becomes not just thought but is affirmed as the law of the land.

These unthinkable moments demonstrate that, rather than treating federal Indian law as sui generis, perhaps it is our presumptions about how public law operates that need to change. For example, social movement theory, like most theories of popular constitutionalism, has been crafted in the shadow of its paradigm case—that is, the civil rights movement that marched on Washington, transfixing the public eye and changing the public mind. In generalizing from this specific case, these theories suggest that advocates must first change the dominant world view to affect enduring legal change. But what if, rather than aiming at the public mind, marginalized groups focused their advocacy strategies on changing the law through formal lawmaking institutions without ever tackling the dominant ideology? What if they exercised their power not to change the broader culture, but to govern their corner of the world? Indian Country has long leveraged law to gain power. Power in this instance is neither voice, nor simply exit. Native advocates use law to carve out jurisdiction and to govern—changing their own daily lives, rather than reforming a recalcitrant nation state. A doctrine that may at first appear as “incoherent” may instead offer an example of a different approach to legal change—and an inarguably successful example, at that. Instead of being “schizophrenic,” as Justice Thomas has labeled the doctrine of federal Indian law, it could provide examples of marginalized groups fighting against dominant power structures—unus multorum rather that sui generis—only, in this case, the marginalized group succeeds in reforming the law without first confronting the dominant ideology.

With sovereignty as its heart and colonialism as its spine, the body of law that governs the relationship between Native nations and the United States known as “federal Indian law” provides legal scholars a case study in a generations-old power movement. The history of Indian Country advocacy teaches that scholars of social and racial justice ought to broaden theorization beyond their paradigm cases to incorporate the social movement strategy, history, and doctrine of Native nations. Rather than “reasoning from race” as did many other social movements of the twentieth century, Native people have charted their own path toward what Native political theorist Vine Deloria considered a “power movement,” as distinct from the rights movements that ultimately shaped the race doctrines. Within this power movement, Native advocates have taken an approach distinct from movements organized around rights. This approach has allowed Native people to leverage the law in order to remedy historical injustice and subordination directly, rather than hope for antisubordination as a result of formal equality and integration. Such antisubordination measures have included the ability to form their own governments and the creation and management of industries that supply social services to members, including health insurance, free electricity, Head Start education, and elder care. These antisubordination measures have even made their way into federal and state governments, including the preferential hiring of Native peoples to staff the portions of the federal government that regulate Indian Country, and preferential placement of Native children within Native families when resolving their custody within the adoption and foster care systems. McGirt, thus, can be understood to vindicate the doctrines shaped by Native advocates.

Federal Indian law generally and McGirt in particular reveal the need to broaden the particular cases from which theories of regulation and legal change are formulated. In particular, they teach that these theories would benefit from the inclusion of the strategies and histories of Native power movements and drawing from these movements a deeper understanding of the social dynamics of power. Federal Indian law demonstrates how law can be harnessed for social change within the context of these power dynamics. Finally, in closing, this Essay offers some advice for Indian Country following McGirt. In particular, it aims to remind advocates to embrace the “unthinkable” nature of federal Indian law and to recognize that its power lies in its ability to change the world before changing minds.

The full article is available here.

-- Karen Tani

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Stone on Brown's Precursor: Blue

Donovan J. Stone, a 2020 graduate of Duke Law School, has published Blue v. Durham Public School District and the Campaign for School Equalization, in the North Carolina Civil Rights Law Review:

Plessy v. Ferguson’s separate but equal doctrine governed challenges to racial discrimination in public schools for nearly sixty years after 1896. That changed, of course, with the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. But before Brown, there was Blue v. Durham Public School District, a 1951 case decided within Plessy’s framework. Blue held that black schools in Durham, North Carolina, though certainly separate, were demonstrably unequal to the city’s white schools. In response, local officials allocated more than one million dollars—worth roughly ten million dollars today—to “equalize” the parallel systems. Such equalization suits are an important yet understudied phenomenon of the decade that preceded Brown. Seeking to enforce Plessy’s purported equality mandate, black lawyers across the country—often buoyed by the NAACP—sued local school districts. Yet by the time the Blue plaintiffs filed their complaint in 1949, many lawyers had grown discontent with that strategy; they preferred attacking segregation directly. Indeed, lawyers launched a wave of desegregation lawsuits just months after the Durham attorneys argued Blue. This Article analyzes why Blue sought equalization when others sought desegregation. After detailing the Blue litigation, I conclude that the local lawyers requested equalization in part because they were from Durham—a city where African Americans believed they could compete if afforded an equal opportunity. Emphasis on Durham does not undermine Blue’s national significance. The decision also illustrates the flaws in Plessy’s doctrine: If schools were unequal even in Durham, the nation’s “Capital of the Black Middle Class,” then Plessy’s failure was inevitable.

--Dan Ernst

Monday, May 17, 2021

Criminal Justice Job at URI

 [We have the following announcement.  DRE.]

The University of Rhode Island is running a search for a cluster hire in the social sciences as part of the Provost's Anti-Black Racism: An Academic Affairs Action Agenda for Change. Here is a link to the shared ad/announcement for additional context about the cluster hire.

One of the three positions is for a Multicultural Postdoctoral Fellow in Criminology and Criminal Justice who has a "demonstrated commitment to highlighting issues of racial inequity and promoting anti-racism in their scholarship and/ or undergraduate teaching practices." Applicants should have a PhD in Criminology, Criminal Justice, or a related field with a specialty oriented towards criminology or criminal justice, or ABD with degree (PhD) conferred by Dec 20, 2021.

As an interdisciplinary program, CCJ is interested in sharing the posting widely. Here is the direct link to the Crim/CJ position with details and deadlines.

Centre for History and Economics virtual seminars

 [We share the following announcement.]

The Centre for History and Economics (Harvard University and University of Cambridge) is hosting two seminars on legal history over the next month: 

  • Economic Law & Histories of Economic Life on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, 10 am EDT (Boston) and 3 pm BST (London), with Fei-Hsien Wang (Indiana University), Pirates and Publishers: A Social History of Copyright in Modern China (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2020) and Lionel Bently (University of Cambridge), Copyright, Translations, and Relations between Britain and India in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries;


You can register to receive the zoom link and pre-circulated papers here

--posted by Mitra Sharafi

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Weekend Roundup

  • "Professor Sarah Seo, Columbia Law School, discusses the Automotive Fourth Amendment for the Supreme Court Historical Society's Virtual Lecture Series" on YouTube.
  • Six 4-year doctoral scholarships are available at the Scuola Superiore Meridionale, the University of Naples Federico II, Napoli (Italy), a.y. 2021-2022.  More.
  • For authors of 2020 books: don't forget that ASLH book prize nominations are due June 1, 2021. Details on the Cromwell, Reid, and Stein awards here. Self-nominations are welcome.
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Beerman's "Journey to Separate But Equal"

My law school classmate Jack M. Beermann, Boston University School of Law, has just published The Journey to Separate but Equal: Madame Decuir's Quest for Racial Justice in the Reconstruction Era (University Press of Kansas):

In The Journey to Separate but Equal: Madame Decuir’s Quest for Racial Justice in the Reconstruction Era, Jack Beermann tells the story of how, in Hall v. Decuir, the post–Civil War US Supreme Court took its first step toward perpetuating the subjugation of the non-White population of the United States by actively preventing a Southern state from prohibiting segregation on a riverboat in the coasting trade on the Mississippi River. The Journey to Separate but Equal offers the first complete exploration of Hall v. Decuir, with an in-depth look at the case’s record; the lives of the parties, lawyers, and judges; and the case’s social context in 1870s Louisiana. The book centers around the remarkable story of Madame Josephine Decuir and the lawsuit she pursued because she had been illegally barred from the cabin reserved for White women on the Governor Allen riverboat.

The drama of Madame Decuir’s fight against segregation’s denial of her dignity as a human and particularly as a woman enriches our understanding of the Reconstruction era, especially in Louisiana, including political and legal changes that occurred during that time and the plight of people of color who were freed from slavery but denied their dignity and rights as American citizens. Hall v. Decuir spanned the pivotal period of 1872–1878, during which White segregationist Democrats “redeemed” the South from Republican control. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Hall overturned the application of an 1869 Louisiana statute prohibiting racial segregation in Madame Decuirs case because of the status of the Mississippi River as a mode of interstate commerce. The decision represents a crucial precedent that established the legal groundwork for the entrenchment of Jim Crow in the law of the United States, leading directly to the Courts adoption of separate but equal in Plessy v. Ferguson.

Professor Beerman discusses the book here.  Encomia after the jump.

--Dan Ernst

Barbas's "Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst"

Samantha Barbas, University at Buffalo School of Law, has published The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst: Free Speech Renegade  (University of Chicago Press):

In the 1930s and ’40s, Morris Ernst was one of America’s best-known liberal lawyers. The ACLU’s general counsel for decades, Ernst was renowned for his audacious fights against artistic censorship. He successfully defended Ulysses against obscenity charges, litigated groundbreaking reproductive rights cases, and supported the widespread expansion of protections for sexual expression, union organizing, and public speech. Yet Ernst was also a man of stark contradictions, waging a personal battle against Communism, defending an autocrat, and aligning himself with J. Edgar Hoover’s inflammatory crusades.

Arriving at a moment when issues of privacy, artistic freedom, and personal expression are freshly relevant, The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst, Free Speech Renegade brings this singularly complex figure into a timely new light. As Samantha Barbas’s eloquent and compelling biography makes ironically clear, Ernst both transformed free speech in America and inflicted damage to the cause of civil liberties. Drawing on Ernst’s voluminous cache of publications and papers, Barbas follows the life of this singular idealist from his pugnacious early career to his legal triumphs of the 1930s and ’40s and his later idiosyncratic zealotry. As she shows, today’s challenges to free speech and the exercise of political power make Morris Ernst’s battles as pertinent as ever.
Encomia after the jump.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Legal History in the Michigan Law Review Book Review Issue

As I noted recently on Twitter, the Michigan Law Review's Book Review Issue is chock full of legal history. Items of interest include:

Michele Goodwin, "A Different Type of Property: White Women and the Human Property They Kept." A Review of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet A. Jacobs, and They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South, by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers.

Lisa Heinzerling, "The Rule of Five Guys." A review of The Rule of Five: Making Climate History at the Supreme Court, by Richard J. Lazarus. 

Shaun Ossei-Owusu, "Racial Revisionism." A review of The Enigma of Clarence Thomas, by Corey Robin.

Christina D. Ponsa-Kraus, "A Perfectly Empty Gift." A review of Almost Citizens: Puerto Rico, the U.S. Constitution, and Empire, by Sam Erman.

Karen M. Tani, "Compensation, Commodification, and Disablement: How Law Has Dehumanized Laboring Bodies and Excluded Nonlaboring Humans." A review of Injury Impoverished: Workplace Accidents, Capitalism, and Law in the Progressive Era, by Nate Holdren.

Andrew Lanham, "The Geopolitics of American Policing." A review of Badges Without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing, by Stuart Schrader.

The full issue is available here.

-- Karen Tani

Sword on wives in early America

 Kirsten Sword (Indiana University Bloomington) has published Wives not Slaves:

Patriarchy and Modernity in the Age of Revolutions with the University of Chicago Press. From the publisher: 

Wives not Slaves begins with the story of John and Eunice Davis, a colonial American couple who, in 1762, advertised their marital difficulties in the New Hampshire Gazette—a more common practice for the time and place than contemporary readers might think. John Davis began the exchange after Eunice left him, with a notice resembling the ads about runaway slaves and servants that were a common feature of eighteenth-century newspapers. John warned neighbors against “entertaining her or harbouring her. . . or giving her credit.” Eunice defiantly replied, “If I am your wife, I am not your slave.” With this pointed but problematic analogy, Eunice connected her individual challenge to her husband’s authority with the broader critiques of patriarchal power found in the politics, religion, and literature of the British Atlantic world.

Kirsten Sword’s richly researched history reconstructs the stories of wives who fled their husbands between the mid-seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries, comparing their plight with that of other runaway dependents.  Wives not Slaves explores the links between local justice, the emerging press, and transatlantic political debates about marriage, slavery and imperial power. Sword traces the relationship between the distress of ordinary households, domestic unrest, and political unrest, shedding new light on the social changes imagined by eighteenth-century revolutionaries, and on the politics that determined which patriarchal forms and customs the new American nation would—and would not—abolish. 

 Praise for the book:

Wives not Slaves is a must-read for anyone interested in the interplay between popular culture and law. Readers will appreciate both the narrative power of its case studies and the elegance of its arguments. This powerful book not only deconstructs the feminist analogy of marriage as slavery, it reassesses the notion of expanding equality in the age of revolution. Better yet, it is filled with thought-provoking implications for our own age.” - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

“Sword unsilences the past, recovering the cacophonous voices of all the ordinary wives and husbands who put their domestic unions on trial in the pages of early American newspapers. A keenly argued study of the making and breaking of colonial marriages in the court of public opinion, Wives Not Slaves explains how marital practices developed in dialogue with the elaboration of other species of household dependence even as it eviscerates the false equivalence between divorce and emancipation.” - Richard Bell

Further information is available here.

--Mitra Sharafi

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

CFP: Legal Histories of Empire

[We have the following call for papers.  DRE]

Third Legal Histories of Empire Conference
Beyond the Pale: Legal Histories on the Edges of Empires
Maynooth University, 29 June-1 July 2022

Empires. Plural. Across time and across the globe, interconnected, mutually constitutive. We invite papers which consider the interconnections and the legal relations between empires. The conference will particularly focus on the role played by law (broadly defined) in facilitating, constituting, and enabling these connections; on the people of law who moved between these places; and the institutions which bound them together. How might we map Empires through these connections? How do we now conceptualise such movement, and are there new ways in which we could envisage legal interchange across time and place? Of particular interest are the connections between places with very different legal systems and traditions. How can we better bring together the efforts of historians working in different legal traditions? In this third Legal Histories of Empires conference we hope to more deeply uncover the legal threads that bound different empires, places, laws and legal traditions across the globe.

Keynote Panel: Jane Ohlmeyer, Richard J Ross, Philip Stern: 'Anglicisation of and through law in British America, Ireland, and India, c.1550-1800'

Abstracts to or the relevant stream by 31 October 2021. Acceptances will be sent in late November 2021.

The organisers are not able to provide funding for travel. However, the Max Planck Institute has generously offered scholarships for scholars from the Global South. The information on these is on the website and applicants should follow the instructions on that site.

Format: Face to Face with provision for virtual presentations and attendance. Please indicate on your abstract whether your participation is contingent on the availability of online participation.

Individual papers: If you are submitting an individual paper, please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words.

Panels (of no more than 4 speakers: a chair and/or commentator can be included): If you are submitting a panel, please submit:
(1)    A panel abstract of no more than 250 words; and
(2)    Individual paper abstracts of no more than 200 words.

Personal information: For each participant (presenter, chair, or commentator), please submit:
(1)    Biographical details of no more than 200 words; and
(2)    Where you will be in July 2022 if you are not physically in Ireland, and what timezone that place is in.

Only one proposal can be submitted per person. For streams please send to the relevant panel organiser (below). For general proposals please send to the main conference email address. No multiple submissions will be accepted.


In addition to papers and panels addressing the theme generally, the following streams will be offered. Individual paper proposals and panel proposals in the same format as above should be sent to the organisers of the relevant stream.

Intellectual Property in Empire: Prof Isabella Alexander:
The Maritime World in Legal History: Prof Diane Kirkby:
Indigeneity, Law and Empires: Prof Pooja Parmar:
Legal Transfer in the Common Law World: Prof Stefan Vogenauer and Dr Donal Coffey:

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Centre for English Legal History Talks (with Links)

We’ve previously posted the line-up for Centre for English Legal History at the University of Cambridge.  Here it is again, with TEAMS links.

May 18    Dr Caroline Laske (University of Ghent)

Legal history meets diachronic semantics: understanding legal concepts and terminology over time

Dr. Laske’s description, from her recent email: “In my talk I will discuss the use of linguistic disciplines as cognitive models for legal history. Particular attention will be paid to the use of analytical linguistics and corpus/concordance-based methodologies that enable us to gain a deep level understanding of the origins, evolution and change of legal thinking, the law and its terminology.  The approach and methodology will be illustrated with three legal historical studies relating to the conceptualisation of legal concepts (consideration in contract law), a relatively new area of law (environmental law) and the textual representation of a particular group of people in customary law sources (women in the Très Ancien Coutumier de Normandie).”

Tuesday 18/05/21
17:00-18:00 GMT

June 1  Dr Kenneth Duggan (University of Toronto)

Deodands and the Law in Thirteenth-Century England

Tuesday 01/06/21
15:00-16:00 GMT

June 8   Professor Marie Seong-Hak Kim (St. Cloud State University) 

Revisiting Custom in Legal History and Historiography

Tuesday 08/06/21
15:00-16:00 GMT

June 16  Professor Thomas McSweeney (William and Mary Law School) 

Priests of the Law: Roman Law and the Making of the Common Law's First Professionals

Tuesday 15/06/21
15:00-16:00 GMT

The conveners are Alec Thompson ( and Doug Chapman (

--Dan Ernst

Francis Parkman Prize to Tomlins for "In the Matter of Nat Turner"

The Society of American Historians has awarded the Francis Parkman Prize to Christopher Tomlins (University of California, Berkeley) for In the Matter of Nat Turner: A Speculative History (Princeton University Press). The Society awards this prize annually "to a nonfiction work of history on an American theme published the previous year that is distinguished by its literary merit." Here's the citation:

Christopher Tomlins ingeniously reconstructs an event and a man we thought we knew: the tragic 1831 slave insurrection in Virginia and its near-mythic leader, Nat Turner. The significance of this book extends well beyond the new story it tells.  The author takes us on his journey of discovery, offering penetrating new readings of the existing evidence, subtly deciphering Turner’s extensive use of religious language, and forging new connections between the event and the larger context of the legal power, violence, and political forces arrayed against any opponent of slavery.

The book is also a master class in the craft of history. By sharing his reflections and speculations throughout the book, Tomlins allows the reader to appreciate every facet of his interrogation of the actions taken by Turner and other key figures in the story. In addition, Tomlins offers a profound new interpretation of The Confessions of Nat Turner (the original version, based on the interview by Thomas Ruffin Gray shortly after the insurrection). It is the one document that gives us clues to Turner’s motives.  Through his exegesis, Tomlins recovers Turner’s agency, treats him on his own terms as an intellectual, shows that his religious beliefs sprang from a deep knowledge of the Bible, and reveals him as a keenly perceptive student of the Virginia slaveholding society in which he lives.  And as Turner acts on his apocalyptic and messianic desires, the author forces us into a productively unsettling confrontation with what Turner called the “work of death” and its consequences.

Christopher Tomlins has given us a deep, original reckoning with the historical record, one that is bound to influence future investigations of Nat Turner, his moment, and its continuing reverberations.

Congratulations to Christopher Tomlins!

-- Karen Tani

van der Heijden, Pluskota, Muurling and friends on women's criminality in Europe

Manon van der Heijden, Marion Pluskota, and Sanne Muurling (all at Universiteit Leiden) have co-edited the volume, Women's Criminality in Europe, 1600-1914 with Cambridge University Press. From the publisher: 

Bringing together the most current research on the relationship between crime and gender in the West between 1600 and 1914, this authoritative volume places female criminality within its everyday context. It reveals how their socio-economic and cultural contexts provided women with 'agency' against a range of European backdrops, despite a fundamentally patriarchal criminal justice system, and includes in-depth analysis of original sources to show how changing living standards, employment, schooling and welfare arrangements had a direct impact on the quality of life of working class women, their risk of becoming involved in crime, and the likelihood of being prosecuted for it. Rather than treating women's criminality as always exceptional, this study draws out the similarities between female and male criminality, demonstrating how an understanding of specific cultural and socio-economic contexts is essential to explain female criminality, both why their criminal patterns changed, and how their crimes were represented by contemporaries.

Table of Contents after the jump: 

Monday, May 10, 2021

Widener to Retire as YLS Rare Book Librarian

Mike Widener (YLS)
We know that “end of an era” is a cliche, but everything else seems inadequate.  Mike Widener is stepping down as Rare Book Librarian at the Yale Law School, a post he took up after years as Head of Special Collections at the Tarlton Law Library, University of Texas at Austin, School of Law.  His farewell post on the blog of the Lillian Goldman Law Library is here; an interview, here.  He tells us that he will stay in the rare book world as the U.S. Advisor for Bibliopathos, and in August he will teach his Rare Book School course, “Law Books: History & Connoisseurship.”

--Dan Ernst

Palmer on the Lost Translators of the Louisiana Civil Code

Vernon Valentine Palmer,  the Thomas Pickles Professor of Law at Tulane University, has published The Lost Translators of 1808 and the Birth of Civil Law in Louisiana (University of Georgia Press).  It appears in the series Southern Legal Studies, edited by Paul Finkelman and Timothy S. Huebner.

In 1808 the legislature of the Louisiana territory appointed two men to translate the Digest of the Laws in Force in the Territory of Orleans (or, as it was called at the time, simply the Code) from the original French into English. Those officials, however, did not reveal who received the commission, and the translators never identified themselves. Indeed, the "translators of 1808" guarded their secret so well that their identities have remained unknown for more than two hundred years. Their names, personalities, careers, and credentials, indeed everything about them, have been a missing chapter in Louisiana legal history.

In this volume, Vernon Valentine Palmer, through painstaking research, uncovers the identity of the translators, presents their life stories, and evaluates their translation in the context of the birth of civil law in Louisiana. One consequence of the translators' previous anonymity has been that the translation itself has never been fully examined before this study. To be sure, the translation has been criticized and specific errors have been pointed out, but Palmer's study is the first general evaluation that considers the translation's goals, the Louisiana context, its merits and demerits, its innovations, failures, and successes. It thus allows us to understand how much and in what ways the translators affected the future course of Louisiana law. The Lost Translators, through painstaking research, uncovers the identity of the translators, presents their life stories, and evaluates their translation in the context of the birth of civil law in Louisiana.
--Dan Ernst                           

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Weekend Roundup

  • Over at JOTWELL Christopher Schmidt (Chicago-Kent College of Law/Illinois Tech) has posted an admiring review of Mary Ziegler's Abortion and the Law in America (2020): "In her important and insightful new book, . . . Mary Ziegler explains how the debate over Roe has evolved and why it endures."
  • India's former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee has died of covid-19 at the age of 91. Tributes here, here, here, and here.
  • Over at In Custodia Legis, a post about a new acquisition by the Library of Congress: "the memorable legal study aid, Memoriale Insitutionum Juris (Ratzeburg, 1672), written by the seventeenth-century German minister and secondary school instructor Johannes Bun."
  • Tribute to the memory of Vice President Walter Mondale from Ryan Greenwood at the Riesenfeld Rare Books Blog, U. of Minnesota Law School.
  • John Fabian Witt discusses American Contagions: Epidemics and the Law from Smallpox to COVID-19 in the ABA Journal.
  • From the Senate Historical Office: "In the early 20th century, a group of progressive senators from midwestern and western states arrived in Washington committed to expanding the role of the federal government to address the economic and social challenges of industrialization. To accomplish these goals, they had to tackle another challenge—the power of the federal judiciary." (Senate Progressives v. Federal Courts).
  • Hosted by UVA and the Royal Society for Asian Affairs: a recent symposium on "Citizenship, Belonging, and the Partition of India." Video now up here.
  • ICYMI: Two Yale law students have organized the Immigrant History Initiative, “a nonprofit that produces curricula on Asian American histories for schools and communities” (Yale Daily News). The Advocates Library: "a vital resource with an illustrious history" (The Scotsman).  Laura Edwards, Oak Ridge High School alumna (Oak Ridger).  Ariela Gross, Harvard Radcliffe Institute 2021–2022 Fellow (HRI). 

Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Common Law, Civil Law, and Colonial Law: Papers from the 24th BLHC

Just published by Cambridge University Press: Common Law, Civil Law, and Colonial Law: Essays in Comparative Legal History from the Twelfth to the Twentieth Centuries, ed. William Eves, University of St Andrews, John Hudson, University of St Andrews, Ingrid Ivarsen, University of Cambridge, and Sarah B. White, University of St Andrews.

Common Law, Civil Law, and Colonial Law
builds upon the legal historian F.W. Maitland's famous observation that history involves comparison, and that those who ignore every system but their own 'hardly came in sight of the idea of legal history'. The extensive introduction addresses the intellectual challenges posed by comparative approaches to legal history. This is followed by twelve essays derived from papers delivered at the 24th British Legal History Conference. These essays explore patterns in legal norms, processes, and practice across an exceptionally broad chronological and geographical range. Carefully selected to provide a network of inter-connections, they contribute to our better understanding of legal history by combining depth of analysis with historical contextualization. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
TOC after the jump.

Centre for English Legal History

[Here's the line up in the the Centre for English Legal History at the University of Cambridge for May and June.  DRE]