Friday, September 4, 2015

Wadhia on the History of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases

New from New York University Press: Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases (June 2015), by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia (Faculty Scholar and Director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights, Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law). Here's a description from the Press:
When Beatles star John Lennon faced deportation from the U.S. in the 1970s, his lawyer Leon Wildes made a groundbreaking argument. He argued that Lennon should be granted “nonpriority” status pursuant to INS’s (now DHS’s) policy of prosecutorial discretion. In U.S. immigration law, the agency exercises prosecutorial discretion favorably when it refrains from enforcing the full scope of immigration law. A prosecutorial discretion grant is important to an agency seeking to focus its priorities on the “truly dangerous” in order to conserve resources and to bring compassion into immigration enforcement. The Lennon case marked the first moment that the immigration agency’s prosecutorial discretion policy became public knowledge. Today, the concept of prosecutorial discretion is more widely known in light of the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program, a record number of deportations and a stalemate in Congress to move immigration reform.
Beyond Deportation is the first book to comprehensively describe the history, theory, and application of prosecutorial discretion in immigration law. It provides a rich history of the role of prosecutorial discretion in the immigration system and unveils the powerful role it plays in protecting individuals from deportation and saving the government resources. Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia draws on her years of experience as an immigration attorney, policy leader, and law professor to advocate for a bolder standard on prosecutorial discretion, greater mechanisms for accountability when such standards are ignored, improved transparency about the cases involving prosecutorial discretion, and recognition of “deferred action” in the law as a formal benefit.
A blurb of note:
"The definitive word on the all-important tool of prosecutorial discretion in immigration enforcement. Wadhia traces the fascinating history of the exercise of such discretion under U.S. immigration law, which includes careful study of the famous case of John Lennon and Yoko Ono through to the use of such discretion in President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Rather than simply describing the history, Beyond Deportation offers concrete recommendations about prosecutorial discretion in immigration enforcement, including greater transparency in decisionmaking and rules that limit government attorneys in the exercise of discretion. Wadhia has written an important analysis of the most significant positive immigration development of the Obama administration." — Kevin R. Johnson, University of California, Davis
More information is available here.

TAU's Law and History Workshop, Fall 2015

[We have the following announcement.]

Tel Aviv Law is pleased to announce the Fall 2015 schedule for the Yigal Arnon & Co. Law and History Workshop
Markus Dubber (Toronto Law)
The Schizophrenic Jury and Other Palladia of Liberty: A Critical Historical Analysis

2 November
Doreen Lustig (Tel Aviv Law)
From Chartered Companies to Regulation of Companies: International Law in Africa, 1881-1923

9 November
Ahmad Amara (NYU)
The Beersheba Bedouin Property System under Transformation

16 November
Uriel Simonsohn (Haifa)
Communal Membership despite Religious Exogamy

23 November
Daniel Hulsebosch (NYU Law)
English Liberties Outside England: Floors, Doors, Windows, and Ceilings in the Legal Architecture of Empire

7 December
William Ian Miller (Michigan Law)
Drawing Lines in the Sand: Of Outlaws, Cod, Strangers, Barking Dogs, Babies, and Sanctuary

14 December
Risa Goluboff (Virginia Law)
Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change, and the Making of the 1960s in the United States

21 December
Eliav Lieblich (IDC Law)
Assimilation through Law: Hans Kelsen and the Jewish Experience

28 December
Christine Hayes (Yale)
Law and Virtue in Ancient Jewish Sources

4 January
 The Law & History Workshop will meet on Mondays from 16:15 to 17:45 at Tel Aviv Law.  Please direct inquiries to 

Brophy and Troutman on Eugenics in North Carolina

Alfred L. Brophy, University of North Carolina School of Law, and Elizabeth Lea Troutman, an alumna of North Carlina Law, have posted The Eugenics Movement in North Carolina:
“The Eugenics Movement in North Carolina” places North Carolina into the social, political, and legal context of the movement in the United States that resulted in the sterilization of more than thirty thousand people from the 1920s through the 1960s. We sketch the social and political arguments that were mobilized to support sterilization, as well as the arguments judges developed alongside these arguments from the 1910s through the 1930s. State courts slowly accepted sterilization until the United States Supreme Court’s decision in 1927 in Buck v. Bell. Then courts and legislatures around the United States more readily accepted it, even as legal scholars expressed reservations about sterilization. North Carolina was one of those states that embraced sterilization. The machinery of the state went into facilitating sterilization. The Eugenics Board of North Carolina, the state board in charge of reviewing petitions from public health officials for sterilization, produced pre-printed forms to facilitate the approval of sterilization. They presided over the petitions and routinely granted the vast majority of them. The few sterilization orders that were challenged in court were also routinely upheld.

For nearly two decades, until the United States’ entrance into World War II, sterilization was broadly accepted by courts. But the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Skinner v. Oklahoma in 1942 began to turn the tide against sterilization, as did unease with a procedure that was reminiscent of what was happening in Germany during the War. Yet, even after Skinner v. Oklahoma and after World War II ended, as the rest of the nation began to abandon sterilization, sterilizations continued in North Carolina.

We conclude with a discussion of the recent legislation in North Carolina to provide modest payments to the victims of the state’s sterilization program. In particular we discuss the design of a payment regime and how the legislature can justify payments for this concentrated episode of state infringement on personal liberty. And we suggest that the North Carolina legislation may provide a model for future legislative action aimed at payments for people sterilized involuntarily in other states.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Goluboff on the NAACP and Labor Litigation in the 1940

Risa Goluboff, University of Virginia Law School, has posted an item from her backlist: “Let Economic Equality Take Care of Itself': The NAACP, Labor Litigation, and the Making of Civil Rights in the 1940s, which appeared in the UCLA Law Review 52 (2005): 1393-1486:
During World War II, the lawyers of the NAACP considered the problem of discrimination in employment as one of the two most pressing problems (along with voting) facing African Americans. In a departure from past practice, they pursued the cases of African American workers vigorously in state and federal court and before state and federal administrative agencies . These cases offered the NAACP lawyers opportunities to facilitate the growth of the Association, materially assist African American workers, and develop legal doctrine. After the war ended, however, the postwar political and economic climate was less favorable to such cases, and the NAACP's institutional plans conflicted with the continued pursuit of labor cases. Moreover, the kinds of doctrinal opportunities labor cases offered diverged from the NAACP lawyers' increasingly single- minded pursuit of desegregation in education. By the time the NAACP lawyers embarked on the path that would ultimately lead them to victory in Brown v. Board of Education, labor cases, and the particular problems of working African Americans, had disappeared from their legal agenda. That loss has had fundamental implications for the civil rights they succeeded in instantiating in constitutional law, and for the civil rights we know as our own today.

Sparrow, Novak, and Sawyer, eds., "Boundaries of the State in US History"

Here's a book that I have been eagerly looking forward to reading, now available from the University of Chicago Press: Boundaries of the State in US History, edited by James T. Sparrow (University of Chicago), William J. Novak (University of Michigan), and Stephen W. Sawyer (American University of Paris). Here's a description from the Press:
The question of how the American state defines its power has become central to a range of historical topics, from the founding of the Republic and the role of the educational system to the functions of agencies and America’s place in the world. Yet conventional histories of the state have not reckoned adequately with the roots of an ever-expanding governmental power, assuming instead that the American state was historically and exceptionally weak relative to its European peers.

Here, James T. Sparrow, William J. Novak, and Stephen W. Sawyer assemble definitional essays that search for explanations to account for the extraordinary growth of US power without resorting to exceptionalist narratives. Turning away from abstract, metaphysical questions about what the state is, or schematic models of how it must work, these essays focus instead on the more pragmatic, historical question of what it does. By historicizing the construction of the boundaries dividing America and the world, civil society and the state, they are able to explain the dynamism and flexibility of a government whose powers appear so natural as to be given, invisible, inevitable, and exceptional.
Here's the TOC:
James T. Sparrow, William J. Novak, and Stephen W. Sawyer

Part I : The State and the World

Gautham Rao
One / The Early American State “In Action”: The Federal Marine Hospitals, 1789–1860

Stephen W. Sawyer
Two / Beyond Tocqueville’s Myth: Rethinking the Model of the American State

C. J. Alvarez
Three / Inventing the US-Mexico Border

James T. Sparrow
Four / Rumors of Empire: Tracking the Image of Britain at the Dawn of the American Century

Jason Scott Smith
Five / The Great Transformation: The State and the Market in the Postwar World

Part II : The State and Civil Society

Tracy Steffes
Six / Governing the Child: The State, the Family, and the Compulsory School in the Early Twentieth Century

Gabriel N. Rosenberg
Seven / Youth as Infrastructure: 4-H and the Intimate State in 1920s Rural America

Elisabeth Clemens
Eight / Good Citizens of a World Power: Postwar Reconfigurations of the Obligation to Give

Omar M. McRoberts
Nine / The Rise of the Public Religious Welfare State: Black Religion and the Negotiation of Church/State Boundaries during the War on Poverty

Robert C. Lieberman
Ten / Private Power and American Bureaucracy: The State, the EEOC, and Civil Rights Enforcement

Richard R. John
Eleven / From Political Economy to Civil Society: Arthur W. Page, Corporate Philanthropy, and the Reframing of the Past in Post–New Deal America

William J. Novak
Conclusion: The Concept of the State in American History
And finally, a few blurbs:
“This outstanding collection captures the full breadth of exciting new work on the American state. The essays challenge us to think in novel and creative ways about the binaries—state and society, republic and empire, public and private, federal and local—that have profoundly shaped historical writing on this institution. They powerfully advance our ability to comprehend the possibilities and perils of democratic statecraft across the entire span of US history. A major achievement.” -- Gary Gerstle
“This resonant collection explores the varieties and powers of the US national state by taking its boundaries and limits seriously. Generating striking insights across a range of fundamental subjects, its thoughtful overviews and absorbing essays offer readers fresh understanding of deep-seated connections between political authority and both domestic society and basic global patterns.” -- Ira Katznelson
More information is available here.

The Supreme Court and Reconstruction

Leon Silverman Lectures of the Supreme Court Historical Society continue this autumn with two more on the Supreme Court and Reconstruction.  On October 14, 2015, Laura Edwards, the Peabody Family Professor of History at Duke University, will deliver The Reconstruction of Rights: The Fourteenth Amendment and Popular Conceptions of Governance.  On October 28, 2015, Randy E. Barnett, my colleague at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory and directs the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, will speak on The Supreme Court and the Slaughterhouse Cases.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tyler on History and the Fed Courts Canon

Amanda L. Tyler, University of California, Berkeley School of Law, has posted Assessing the Role of History in the Federal Courts Canon: A Word of Caution, forthcoming in the Notre Dame Law Review 90 (2015): 1739-51:
One of the most pervasive and important debates in federal courts jurisprudence is over the role that history should play in interpreting Article III of the United States Constitution. To that end, federal courts jurisprudence is not altogether different from constitutional law jurisprudence more generally. But in the federal courts arena — more so than in the broader domain of constitutional law — originalism has always wielded tremendous influence over much of the judicial and scholarly thinking. It is for this reason that a distinct conversation about its role in the federal courts canon is appropriate.

There is little question that in the field of federal courts, historical study has a great deal to contribute to modern debates. Indeed, historical study holds enormous potential to illuminate the founding purpose behind constitutional provisions, to unearth contemporary meanings associated with terms of art that were included in the document, and to uncover important evidence relating to historical practices and context, which in turn can shed light on the background understandings and assumptions that underlie constitutional text. But sometimes — if not often — the historical record on important questions of federal courts jurisprudence is absent, incomplete, or more complex than jurists and scholars tend to acknowledge. In keeping with this idea, one should never forget that certain aspects of the Constitution — including Article III and the structural framework within which it is situated — represented major innovations in their time. At the Founding, the concept of federalism — and with it the idea of two sets of courts, state and federal — was entirely new. Moreover, the separation of powers framework was, at the least, a transformation of the British model, if not a dramatic departure from it. Against this backdrop, it would be curious indeed if the details of the Article III power were fully settled from the outset. More likely, as Madison recognized early on, there would need to be a “liquidat[ion]” of meaning over time.

Accordingly, I wish to offer a word of caution about making historical arguments in federal courts jurisprudence. Specifically, in undertaking historical inquiry in the field of federal courts, one must be careful about assigning certain data points from the Founding period determinative weight, rather than treating them as part of a larger conversation about the role of the judicial power in our constitutional framework. This is because in studying the early years following ratification of the Constitution, one tends to find both examples of major principles that remained the subject of disagreement as well as examples of early legislation and practices that today we would reject as plainly inconsistent with the constitutional separation of powers. As historian Jack Rakove has observed, the Founding period documents are the product of collective decisionmaking “whose outcomes necessarily reflected a bewildering array of intentions and expectations, hopes and fears, genuine compromises and agreements to disagree.” In other words, at least to some extent, we must treat the period as a work in progress.

Wilentz on Slavery and the U.S. Constitution: A Constitution Day Lecture

Sean Wilentz, the George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History, at Princeton University, will deliver “Slavery and the U.S. Constitution,” Princeton’s Constitution Day Lecture, on Wednesday, September 16, at 4:30 p.m. in Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall.  Sarah Rivett, an Associate Professor of English specializing in early American and eighteenth-century transatlantic literature and culture, will comment.  The event is free and open to the public.  More information is here.

2015 ASLH Elections Currently Underway: Cast Your Electronic Ballot!

Over the weekend, we briefly mentioned this year's ASLH elections, which are being conducted via electronic ballot. Here's a fuller annuncement:
2015 ASLH Elections Currently Underway

For the first time, elections in the ASLH are being conducted electronically. If you were a member in good standing as of July 15, you will receive an email from Vote-Now, the company conducting our election, inviting you to participate and providing you with a voting code and direct access to their secure website. The email from Vote-Now was sent to the email address you provided to Cambridge University Press as part of your payment of society dues and registration for our journal, the Law and History Review. For those who do not have a valid email address on file, you should receive a postcard through regular mail, to whatever address you have on file with Cambridge University Press for receiving the Law and History Review.

Our election runs until September 25 at midnight, and we urge you to participate. For any technical issues with the electronic ballot, please send an email with a description of the problem to or call (888) 993-9801. For questions about the election, please contact Sally E Hadden (

The Legacy of Charles W. McCurdy

[We are very pleased to post the announcement for The Legacy of Charles W. McCurdy: A Conference Honoring the UVA Legal Historian and Inaugurating the Charles W. McCurdy Fellowship in Legal History.  It will take place Sunday and Monday, Nov. 1-2, 2015 and is sponsored by the University of Virginia Miller Center, the School of Law and the Corcoran Department of History.]

This conference will celebrate and explore the legacy of Charles W. McCurdy on a scholarly and personal level. It will also serve to inaugurate the Charles W. McCurdy Fellowship in Legal History at the Miller Center and School of Law. During a 40-year career in the Corcoran Department of History and the School of Law, McCurdy has been the intellectual and pedagogical heart of legal history at the University of Virginia. His scholarship earned him the 2003 Order of the Coif Triennial Book Award for “The Anti-Rent Era in New York Law and Politics, 1839-1865.” His teaching has earned him not only official recognition but, more importantly, claim to having directed or advised more than 200 doctoral dissertations, master’s theses, and undergraduate theses.

To RSVP and for information about logistics in Charlottesville, contact Renee Branson at The conference has reserved rooms at the Omni Hotel, which can be contacted directly: Omni Hotel, 212 Ridge McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903.  (434) 971-5500 or 1-800-THE-OMNI.  Ask for the McCurdy Conference Rate (139/night).  Rates good Nov. 1-3, 2015.

Sunday, November 1
6 p.m. Dinner and Personal Reflections (Law School)
Registered Guests
Hosts: Brian Balogh, University of Virginia Miller Center and Corcoran Department of History
Risa Goluboff, University of Virginia School of Law

Monday, November 2

8 a.m. Breakfast (Miller Center)

8:30 a.m.  Welcome and Introductory Remarks

G. Edward White, University of Virginia School of Law

9-10:30 a.m.  Panel 1: Federalism and Ideas of Sovereignty

Kate Brown, Huntington University Department of History and Political Science, “Founding Federalism:  Alexander Hamilton’s Concurrent Constitutionalism”
Lindsay Robertson, University of Oklahoma College of Law, “Restoring Relations with Five Nations after the Civil War: The Fort Smith Conference and the Legal Complexities of Post-Civil War Indian Treaty Rights”
Cynthia L. Nicoletti, University of Virginia School of Law, "Reimagining the Union: The Contours of Federalism after the Civil War”
J. Gordon Hylton, University of Virginia School of Law, “The Fuller Court and the State Police Power: A Quantitation Study in the History of Federalism”
Bernie D. Jones, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, “The ‘New Federalism’ and Current Challenges to Legal Historiography”
Moderator: Hendrik Hartog, Princeton University History Department

10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.  Panel 2:  McCurdy Fellow Panel
Sarah Seo, Princeton University Department of History, “The Automobile and the Cold War Fourth Amendment”
Nora Krinitsky, University of Michigan Department of History, “Beer Wars and Black Votes: Policing the Color Line in Interwar Chicago”
Jessica Lowe, University of Virginia School of Law, Comment
David Sklansky, Stanford Law School, Comment
Moderator: Sarah Barringer Gordon, University of Pennsylvania Law School

12:30-1:45 p.m. Lunch (Law School)

2-3:30 p.m.  Panel 3: Federalism, Law, and the Economy

Barry Cushman, Notre Dame Law School, “The Constitutional Foundations of the New Deal Securities Laws”
Stephanie Hunter McMahon, University of Cincinnati College of Law, “Federalizing the Federal Income Tax”
Logan Everett Sawyer, University of Georgia School of Law, “The Beveridge Child Labor Bill in Progressive Era Law and Politics, 1906-08”
Victoria Saker Woeste, American Bar Foundation, “Capitalism and Agriculture: The Fate of American Democracy”
Moderator: Sarah Milov, University of Virginia Corcoran Department of History

3:45-5:15 p.m.  Panel 4: Adjudicating Rights and Interests in a Changing Nation

J. Herbie DiFonzo, Hofstra Law School, “Before the ‘Best Interests of the Child’: Child Custody Presumptions in Nineteenth-Century America”
Richard F. Hamm, State University of New York at Albany Department of History, “A Challenge to the Segregated Draft: The Lynn Case and Civil Rights Activism during World War II”
Reuel E. Schiller, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, “Trouble in the ‘Peaceful Garden’: Litigating Fair Housing in Multi-Racial San Francisco”
Patricia Hagler Minter, Western Kentucky University Department of History, “‘Marriage is between one man and one woman”: Competing Visions of Rights and Theology in Kentucky’s 2004 Marriage Amendment”
Moderator: Claudrena Harold, University of Virginia Corcoran Department of History

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Symposium: From Runnymede to Philadelphia

[Via H-Law, we have news of the symposium, From Runnymede to Philadelphia to Cyberspace: The Enduring Legacy of Magna Carta]

Brooklyn Law School will mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and Constitution Day in the United States with an extraordinary global gathering of renowned legal scholars, authors, artists, historians, public officials, librarians, and archivists from around the world for a wide-ranging discussion of the continuing impact of this seminal document on U.S. law, civil rights and liberties, art, the role of libraries and archives in the Digital Age, and law in order in Cyberspace.

Thursday, September 17, 8:30 am to 6:00 pm, in the Jerome Prince Moot Court Room, Brooklyn Law School, 250 Joralemon St., Brooklyn, NY.  This event is open to the public, but you must RSVP.  The program is here.  For more information, contact: Janet Sinder, Director of the Library & Associate Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School (

[The symposium coincides with Brooklyn Law School’s hosting (September 14-28) of the traveling exhibit “Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy 1215-2015,” commemorating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.  The exhibit (the logo for which appears above), is presented by the American Bar Association in partnership with the Library of Congress and its Law Library.]

Vile on William Pierce's Character Sketches of the Delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention

The University of Georgia Press has recently published a book that may interest constitutional historians and those who study the founding era: The Wisest Council in the World: Restoring the Character Sketches by William Pierce of Georgia of the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 (June 2015), by John R. Vile (Middle Tennessee State University). A description from the Press:
Of all the written portraits of the delegates who attended the Federal Convention of 1787, few are as complete and compelling as those penned by William Pierce Jr. (1753–89), one of four delegates from Georgia. While at the convention or shortly thereafter, Pierce produced character sketches of fifty-three of the fifty-five delegates. Although widely quoted and cited, the sketches—until now—have never been analyzed or annotated in detail. John R. Vile’s study offers new insights into the workings of the convention and the character and roles of its delegates, as well as Pierce’s little-known life, which included time as an artist. Vile reveals, for example, that the time prior to the establishment of national parties when the framers could have successfully met together in convention may have been a relatively narrow historical window.

Following overviews of events leading to the 1787 convention and of Pierce and his immediate family, several chapters deal specifically with the character sketches. They cover Pierce’s arrangement of the sketches and their subjects, his evaluations of the delegates’ personal qualities and reputations, his assessments of their rhetorical abilities, and his descriptions of their public services, occupations, and miscellaneous matters. Two concluding chapters add further context. One examines a set of somewhat overlapping sketches that Louis Guillaume Otto, the French minister to the United States, penned about members of Congress in 1788. The other looks at writings by Pierce’s son and namesake that also include assessments of various Founding Fathers. Gathering Pierce’s sketches in full, with ample annotations and secondary materials, this is a valuable reference on Pierce’s life, work, and times.
More information is available here.

Call for Papers: Life & Law in Rural America

This year, I am lucky enough to co-organize the Graduate Student Conference for the Program in American Studies at Princeton University. Here's my shameless plug to encourage graduate students and law students to submit an abstract: 
Life & Law in Rural America: Cows, Cars, and Criminals
Princeton University Program in American Studies, Graduate Student Conference
March 25-26, 2016 
Rural America has become an increasingly productive space for critical inquiry and exploration for scholars in many disciplines. From school reform to policing, from healthcare to popular television shows, and everything in between, the rural United States is continually being explored from new vantage points. Current research suggests that rural communities share many of the same kinds of challenges in education, policing, poverty, and healthcare found in urban and suburban communities, disrupting long-standing assumptions about rural America. At the same time, academics and non-academics alike recognize that rural spaces and experiences are distinct. 
This conference, sponsored by the Program in American Studies at Princeton University, will explore rural spaces, people, and the law throughout American history and the present. With this conference, we seek to bring together an interdisciplinary group of graduate student researchers and faculty respondents to ask interdisciplinary questions of the social, cultural, legal, religious, and intellectual experiences of rural life. What is “rural”, and how does law constitute a distinctly rural experience for those who live there? How do law, lived experience, and geography interact in distinct ways in rural places? 
We invite graduate students working in the fields of American Studies, Anthropology, History, Law, English, Political Science, Musicology, Geography, Sociology, Art History, and related fields to submit papers on topics including but not limited to law and:
  • Policing in rural communities
  • Economic opportunity
  • Religious commitment 
  • Regional rural identity
  • Gender in rural spaces
  • Race in rural America—both within, and outside of, the South
  • Class and poverty in rural places
  • Local government law and rural politics
  • Federal policies impacting rural America
  • Farming and farm laborers
  • Hinterlands & Rural-Urban Relationships
  • Activism & Civic Engagement
  • Cultural stereotypes of rural America
  • Environmental studies
  • Rural research methods
  • Socio-legal studies 
Please submit an abstract of no more than 400 words, a short biographical description, and your contact information by November 15, 2015. Proposals and questions should be sent to conference organizers Heath Pearson and Emily Prifogle at

Please circulate widely.
More information can be found at the conference website.

Gonda's New History of Shelley v. Kramer

Out next month from the University of North Carolina Press but available for pre-order now is Unjust Deeds: The Restrictive Covenant Cases and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement, by Jeffrey D. Gonda, an assistant professor of history in the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
In 1945, six African American families from St. Louis, Detroit, and Washington, D.C., began a desperate fight to keep their homes. Each of them had purchased a property that prohibited the occupancy of African Americans and other minority groups through the use of legal instruments called racial restrictive covenants--one of the most pervasive tools of residential segregation in the aftermath of World War II. Over the next three years, local activists and lawyers at the NAACP fought through the nation’s courts to end the enforcement of these discriminatory contracts.

Unjust Deeds explores the origins and complex legacies of their dramatic campaign, culminating in a landmark Supreme Court victory in Shelley v. Kraemer (1948). Restoring this story to its proper place in the history of the black freedom struggle, Jeffrey D. Gonda's groundbreaking study provides a critical vantage point to the simultaneously personal, local, and national dimensions of legal activism in the twentieth century and offers a new understanding of the evolving legal fight against Jim Crow in neighborhoods and courtrooms across America.
Here are two endorsements:
"The time is more than ripe for a new look at restrictive covenant litigation, and Unjust Deeds is invaluable in this regard. With top-rate scholarship and original treatment, this is an important new work. It's definitely among the top books on legal civil rights history from the past decade."
--Susan Carle, American University Washington College of Law

Unjust Deeds analyzes the legal history of Shelley v. Kraemer to show just how instrumental legal campaigns have been to the Black Freedom Struggle. With clear and precise writing, Jeffrey Gonda is making an essential contribution to civil rights scholarship.”
--Robert S. Smith, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

McGruder, "Race and Real Estate: Conflict and Cooperation in Harlem, 1890-1920"

New from Columbia University Press: Race and Real Estate: Conflict and Cooperation in Harlem, 1890-1920 (June 2015), by Kevin McGruder (Antioch College). The Press explains:
Through the lens of real estate transactions from 1890 to 1920, Kevin McGruder offers an innovative perspective on Harlem's history and reveals the complex interactions between whites and African Americans at a critical time of migration and development. During these decades Harlem saw a dramatic increase in its African American population, and although most histories speak only of the white residents who met these newcomers with hostility, this book uncovers a range of reactions.
Although some white Harlem residents used racially restrictive real estate practices to inhibit the influx of African Americans into the neighborhood, others believed African Americans had a right to settle in a place they could afford and helped facilitate sales. These years saw Harlem change not into a "ghetto," as many histories portray, but into a community that became a symbol of the possibilities and challenges black populations faced across the nation.
This book also introduces alternative reasons behind African Americans' migration to Harlem, showing that they came not to escape poverty but to establish a lasting community. Owning real estate was an essential part of this plan, along with building churches, erecting youth-serving facilities, and gaining power in public office. In providing a fuller, more nuanced history of Harlem, McGruder adds greater depth in understanding its development and identity as both an African American and a biracial community.
A blurb of note:
"Kevin McGruder's meticulous study shows us exactly how black migrants to Harlem between 1890 and 1920 created a community. His analysis of the role of black real estate agents and black churches in 'opening' Harlem to black residents is fascinating, and his attention to the ways that ethnicity structured white responses to the movement of blacks to white neighborhoods is nuanced and insightful." — Beryl Satter, Rutgers University
More information, including the TOC and an excerpt, is available here.

Thank You, Mary Ziegler!

Thank you, Mary Ziegler, for a series of posts as a guest blogger this month relating to her book After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate.  They were:

Unsolved Puzzles
How Did Roe Become a Popular Symbol of Judicial Activism?
Representing the Unborn
The Rise of the Undue-Burden Test
Population Control, Immigration, and Environmentalism
Liberals and Religious Conscience
The Politicization of Privacy
Compromise and Marital-Status Discrimination
Writing Abortion History

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Symposium on Mendez v. Westminster

We've noted the publication of Philippa Strum's book on Mendez v. Westminster and an exhibit on the litigation in the federal courthouse in San Diego.  Now the transcript of the introductory secession of a symposium on the case is up on SSRN.  It is Mendez v. Westminster: A Living History, Michigan State Law Review 2014: 401-27, with contributions from Judge Frederick P. Aguirre, Kristi L. Bowman, Gonzalo Mendez, Sylvia Mendez, Sandra Robbie, and Philippa Strum:
School desegregation is not just a "black and white" issue, and in fact it never has been. In 1931, a county court in Lemon Grove, California ordered a school district to stop segregating its white and Latino students. Fifteen years later in 1946, a court reached the same result in Mendez v. Westminster, becoming the first federal court to order the desegregation of schools. In this piece, Gonzalo Mendez and Sylvia Mendez (both now retired) recall their experiences as the children whose parents initiated the groundbreaking Mendez litigation, and the way in which their parents remembered the litigation. Sandra Robbie, who wrote and produced the Emmy-award winning documentary about the case, discusses its historical context. Frederick Aguirre, now a judge, reflects on the legal and personal significance of the decision. Philippa Strum, author of a book about the case, considers the unique challenges and rewards of writing about school desegregation cases. Kristi Bowman facilitates these various reflections and weaves them together.

Ginsburg on Papal Printing Privileges as Proto-Property

Who says alliteration is dead?  Jane C. Ginsburg, Columbia Law School has posted Proto-Property in Literary and Artistic Works: Sixteenth-Century Papal Printing Privileges, which is forthcoming in The History of Copyright Law: A Handbook of Contemporary Research, ed.  Isabella Alexander & H. Tomas Gomez-Arostegui (Edward Elgar, 2015):
This Study endeavors to reconstruct the Vatican’s precursor system of copyright, and the author’s place in it, inferred from examination of over five hundred privileges and petitions and related documents — almost all unpublished — in the Vatican Secret Archives. The typical account of the precopyright world of printing privileges, particularly in Venice, France and England, portrays a system primarily designed to promote investment in the material and labor of producing and disseminating books; protecting or rewarding authorship was at most an ancillary objective.

The sixteenth-century Papal privileges found in the Archives, however, prompt some rethinking of that story because the majority of these privileges were awarded to authors, and even where a printer received a privilege for a work of a living author, the petition increasingly asserted the author’s endorsement of the application. The predominance of authors might suggest the conclusion that the Papal privilege system more closely resembled modern copyright than printer-centered systems. That said, it would be inaccurate and anachronistic to claim that authorship supplied the basis for the grant of a Papal privilege. Nonetheless, a sufficient number of petitions and privileges invoke the author’s creativity that one may cautiously suggest that authorship afforded a ground for bestowing exclusive rights.

The Study proceeds as follows: first, a description of the sources consulted and methodology employed; second, an account of the system of Papal printing privileges derived from the petitions for and grants of printing monopolies; third, an examination of the justifications for Papal printing monopolies and the inferences appropriately drawn regarding the role of authors in the Papal privilege system.

Writing Abortion History

As I end my time on Legal History Blog, there is another issue worth discussing: the challenges of writing the history of an issue as divisive as abortion. Some of the obstacles I faced were practical. Most major archives contain very little on the antiabortion movement. Even promising libraries often did not resemble the ones I expected. I once visited the basement of a convent undergoing construction and was left completely unsupervised. Luckily for the nuns, I had no intention of leaving with boxes of archival material in my bag.

Other challenges were personal. Like many scholars, I had my own opinions about abortion. To a greater extent than I had realized, I often had preconceived ideas about the activists on either side of the struggle. Telling their story fairly and without judgment was not always easy. Conducting oral histories with many activists helped me cut through my own fixed ideas about abortion. 

Finding the language to discuss abortion history in person or in writing could also be difficult. I wanted to talk in a way that would not misrepresent who I was or what I thought, but I also wanted to create a comfortable, nonjudgmental environment for activists already distrustful of anyone asking to talk. In spite of these challenges, hearing activists describe their journeys helped me set aside some of the stereotypes I had relied on. Many of these activists were generous with their time. Some sent me personal papers or recorded oral histories. A few have passed away since I spoke with them and before I could properly thank them for their help. 

Presenting historical work on this subject can be as hard as writing it. Once, in discussing my work on compromise after Roe, one audience member asked me whether it would be good a thing if “we” could compromise with “them.” I was not sure which side of the abortion issue my questioner took, but in discussing a subject that arouses so much passion, I was not surprised that discussion immediately turned from historical to normative questions about abortion. Something similar happened in media reviews. Some only briefly discussed what the book said before moving on to what the law ought to do.

But I think it is the dominance of normative questions about abortion that makes it so important for historians to study the law and politics of reproductive health. Much of this legal history remains to be written.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Book Roundup

The New Rambler has a review of Natural Law in Court: A History of Legal Theory in Practice by R.H. Helmholtz (Harvard University Press).

Christine Desan's Making Money: Coin, Currency and the Coming of Capitalism (Oxford University Press) is reviewed in The Financial Post (here) and in the Journal of Legal History (here). From JLH:
"Professor Christine Desan is the co-founder of Harvard’s Program on the Study of Capitalism. This is a significant and innovative new development in the teaching and researching of legal, business and economic history. It marks a start of a new wave in the way that we teach and think about the history of capitalism. Here the scholars collectively advocate a move away from the more traditional issues of profitability, efficiency, strategy and effective management, and focus upon issues of power, on the
effects of ways of organizing production, distribution, buying and selling, on society, on policy, and politics. ..."
"In sum, this book is of tremendous value and a notable text in legal history and within those subjects at the peripheries surrounding it. It sets a new path in challenging our ways of studying commercial law and viewing money and currency as a purely economic tool and as a mechanism of exchange."
From H-Net is a review of the volume, Drone Wars: Transforming Conflict, Law, and Policy (Cambridge University Press) edited by Peter Bergen and Daniel Rothenberg.

Also on H-Net is a review of James D. Morrow's Order within Anarchy: The Laws of War as an International Institution (Cambridge University Press).

The Washington Post has a review by Cary Franklin of Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirshman (Harper).
"With a good nose for the big legal story of the moment, Linda Hirshman — author of “Victory” (2012), a popular account of the gay rights movement — is back, this time with “Sisters in Law,” a joint biography of Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor. Ginsburg is attracting a lot of attention these days, especially from the young and hip (who have emblazoned all manner of dry goods with her likeness and blanketed D.C. with “Can’t Spell Truth Without Ruth” stickers). But it’s not just the Ginsburgian subject matter that makes Hirshman’s book seem so vital. “Sisters in Law” tells the life stories of the nation’s first female justices, but it is as much about how we got to the present juncture with respect to women’s legal rights."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Weekend Roundup

  • Amici, the podcast series of, has an interview with Marilyn Marcus, executive director of the Historical Society of the New York Courts.  Among other things, Ms. Marcus discusses Former Chief Judge Judith Kaye's role in founding the Society.
  • The American Lawyer has honored former Georgetown law dean (and FTC chairperson) Robert Pitofsky with its Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Florida International University's press release noting Professor M.C. Mirow's selection to co-direct a graduate student colloquium at October's ASLH meeting is here
  • Speaking of the ASLH, we just got our electronic ballot.  It's a good time for readers who aren't members to join, and for members to reflect on their priorities in choosing board members, including recognizing legal historians who work on times and places other than one's own.
  • Edward J. Balleisen on teaching legal and business history in Duke Magazine. H/t: Brad Snyder
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Triangle Legal History Seminar, 2015-16

Via Al Brophy over at the Faculty Lounge, we have the schedule for the Triangle Legal History Seminar for 2015-16.  Al writes that the seminar meets at the National Humanities Center, except on December 4, when it will meet at UNC Law School.   Except for October 1, the seminar begins at 4 pm.
Sean Vanatta, Princeton University, September 25

Wilfred Prest, University of Adelaide, October 1

Ryan Poe, Duke University, November 6

Richard Paschal, George Mason University,  December 4

Renzo Honores, High Point University, January 15

James Campbell, Stanford University, February 12

Ashley Elrod, Duke University, March 4
Anna K. Johns, Duke University, March 25

Matt Sommer, Stanford University, April 22

Price on "Health Security" and Mentally Ill Immmigrants

Polly J. Price, Emory University School of Law, has posted Infecting the Body Politic: Observations on Health Security and the 'Undesirable' Immigrant, which will appear in the Kansas Law Review 63 (2015): 917-52:
Sovereign nations may refuse admission to migrants who are either physically or mentally ill or disabled. Nations have commonly preferred an ideal class — the physically and mentally healthy — to the “undesirable” migrant who is unhealthy or disabled. Both exclusions are traditionally justified as a nation’s prerogative to choose its membership. Nations defend exclusionary safeguards by the need to protect their citizens against contagions from the outside world. Immigrants who are physically or mentally disabled do not pose the same threat, but they may require state services and support, what U.S. immigration law terms a “public charge.” Mental illness is a different category altogether, in that public safety may be an issue, in addition to the need for state welfare expenditures.

Mental disorder as a disqualification for entering the U.S., and accordingly disqualification for U.S. citizenship, has a long history. On two notable occasions in the past, Congress has focused specifically on mental health of would-be immigrants — the first decade of twentieth century, and again in the early 1950s. At the same time, state officials desired to rid themselves of “undesirable” non-citizens housed in state institutions. The solution was to collaborate with the federal government to deport them on mental health grounds. In 1926, for example, 796 persons were deported for “insanity” or “epilepsy,” 257 for “other mental conditions,” and 887 as “likely to become a public charge,” out of nearly 11,000 total deportations that year.

With established interests to protect, the United States along with every other nation imposes constraints on citizenship and migration by self-selection. The screen of “health security” is used to cover policy choices — whether to assume the risk of successfully managing contagious disease; whether to assume the burden of managing mental illness — that have shaped immigration policy for more than a century. The foremost difference is that contagious disease presents a verifiable condition, where mental illness has been defined in such hazy terms as to be applicable to just about anyone — or at least, as Justice Douglas argued, anyone “unpopular.”

More on the History of the Carceral State

We previously noted the JAH's special issue on the history of carceral state.  That issue is now freely available on line.  Also, the contributors have a series of posts on the OAH's blog Process, which you may access through pointers on OUPblog.

Three contributors to the symposium will give a congressional briefing under the auspices of the National History Center on October 9, from 1-2, in Room 2226 of the Rayburn Building: Alex Lichenstein, Indiana University; Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Schomburg Center; and Heather Ann Thompson, University of Michigan.

Compromise and Marital-Status Discrimination

At the heart of After Roe is a story about when and why conflict about abortion and gender escalated. Before writing the book, I believed that the Roe decision itself inevitably led to the culture wars we face now. As Gene Burns, Linda Greenhouse, and Reva Siegel have shown, compromise on the abortion issue itself seemed impossible well before the Court intervened. By raising the salience of the abortion issue, however, the Court drew attention to a question that hopelessly divided Americans. In responding to Roe, the antiabortion movement got bigger and more sophisticated. As historian Daniel K. Williams argues in a forthcoming book, abortion opponents also responded to the decision by prioritizing a constitutional amendment. Movement members ended up supporting whichever political party endorsed their constitutional agenda. When Ronald Reagan made the Republican Party the “party of life,” he strengthened an alliance between pro-lifers and the political Right.

Just the same, as I document in After Roe, the Court’s 1973 decision did not immediately or inevitably eliminate compromises on other important gender issues. Indeed, in the decade after Roe, influential activists on either side of the debate viewed common-ground solutions as more important than ever, particularly on the issues of pregnancy discrimination, welfare for adolescent mothers, and even the regulation of fetal research. I argue that the polarization of these issues came later and for reasons beyond the Court’s decision, including the rise of the New Right and Religious Right and political party realignment.
The book left me wondering about other areas of possible cooperation. At times in the 1970s, some pro-lifers pushed for laws banning marital-status discrimination, particularly at the local and state level. For certain movement leaders, these laws promised to reduce abortion rates by removing the stigma of illegitimacy and unwed motherhood. In the same period, as part of the early push for civil-rights ordinances, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender activists also called for bans on discrimination on the basis of both sexual preference and marital status. For these advocates, ending marital-status discrimination would protect gays and lesbians who could not marry while undermining the legitimacy of state regulation of sexuality more broadly.
Agreeing with gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender activists would, I imagine, have exposed another fault line in the antiabortion movement. Some movement members saw sexual irresponsibility, not abortion, as the core problem in American society. While praising marital, procreative sexuality, others argued against laws that punished what they considered transgressive sex, seeing these regulations as harmful to children and mothers and coercive of abortion.

Serena Mayeri’s forthcoming work on the rise of marital supremacy in the 1970s will illuminate an important part of the story about challenges to the sexual status quo in the decade after Roe. A surprisingly diverse group of activists called for protection of the non-marital family. In order to understand the consequences and history of the marriage equality struggle, we should turn our attention to the legal history of that effort and its ultimate decline.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Laura Edwards’s Civil War Stories

Duke Today has a lovely on-line feature article, complete with embedded videos, entitled Laura Edwards’ Civil War Stories, prompted by the appearance of Professor Edwards's Legal History of the Civil War and Reconstruction: A Nation of Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Michigan's Legal History Workshop, Fall 2015

Here’s the Fall 2005 lineup for the Legal History Workshop jointly sponsored by the University of Michigan Law School and University of Michigan Department of History.  Sessions meet in 0220 South Hall (Law School) unless otherwise noted.  Guests can obtain the readings via email from Dara Faris (

September 9. (Wednesday.)  C
laire Lemercier. CNRS and Sciences Po (Paris.)
"How do Businessmen Like Their Courts? Evidence from Mid-19th Century France,     England, and New York City."  Special Session Co-Sponsored by the Law & Economics Workshop.  OTE: This session held in Hutchins Hall Room 132.

September 22.   Eric Foner. Columbia University.
Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad. With guest     commentator, Tiya Miles, University of Michigan.

September 29. Sara Mayeux. University of Pennsylvania Law School.
"The ‘Progressive' Public Defender (and Its Alternatives) in Los Angeles, 1914-1949"

October 6. Rebecca J. Scott. University of Michigan.
"'Acts of Ownership and Authority': The Enslavement of Eulalie Oliveau"

October 13. Tom Romero. Strum College of Law, University of Denver.
"Water, Water Everywhere…and No Where: Bridging the Confluence of Water and     Immigration Law"

October 27. Charlotte Walker-Said. John Jay College, CUNY.
"Faith, Power, and Family: Law and Christianity in Interwar Cameroon"

November 3.  Kunal Parker. University of Miami School of Law.
"Making Foreigners: Immigration and Citizenship Law in America"

November 17.  Amanda Alexander. University of Michigan.
"'The Authorities Cannot Meet Demand': Prison Labor, Pass Laws, and Agricultural     Development in Apartheid South Africa"

November 24.  H. Timothy Lovelace, Indiana University Mauer School of Law.
"The World is on Our Side:  The U.S. Origins of the United Nation's Race Convention"

December 3 (Thursday.)  Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Harvard Law School.
"The Honorable Constance Baker Motley: The Honor and Burden of Being First"
 NOTE: Location is Hutchins Hall room 236.

Harder and Patten, "Patriation and Its Consequences: Constitution Making in Canada"

New from the University of British Columbia Press: Patriation and Its Consequences: Constitution Making in Canada (June 2015), by Lois Harder (University of Alberta) and Steven Patten (University of Alberta). A description from the Press:
Few moments in Canadian history are as intriguing as the "patriation" of Canada’s constitution from Britain. Over the years, the tale of the political battle between Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the "Gang of Eight" provincial premiers opposing his patriation plans has developed mythical status. Constitutional lore suggests Canadians would not have a patriated constitution or entrenched the Charter of Rights and Freedoms if not for some last-minute negotiations that took place in a hotel kitchen the night of 4 November 1981 – a night Quebec Premier René Lévesque famously described as the "Night of the Long Knives," when his seven provincial allies deserted him.

In an effort to look beyond this familiar narrative, Patriation and Its Consequences: Constitution Making in Canada revisits these negotiations and the personalities, visions, and struggles that shaped the resulting constitutional agreement. Offering fresh perspectives on the politics of this key moment in Canadian history, it focuses on the players behind the patriation process, including First Nations and feminist activists, who helped shape Canada’s new constitution.

The volume also examines the long shadow of patriation, including the alienation of Quebec, the character of Canadian federalism, Indigenous constitutionalism and Aboriginal treaty rights, and the struggle to ensure gender equality rights in Canada. 
More information, including the TOC, is available here.

RFP: A History of the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

[We have the following Request for Proposals for a "book on the history of the creation and the first 25 years of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims."]

Content.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC) seeks proposals for a scholarly book on the history of the creation and the first 25 years of the Court. If the Court determines to publish such a book, the book will describe judicial review of veterans appeals and the effect of the Court upon veterans' benefits and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) claims and appeals process. Possible topics could include:

· Efforts of veterans and organizations to obtain judicial review of veterans benefits decisions
· Legislative history and the process involved in the creation of the Court
· The Early Phase of the Court's History, including
· Interviews with original judges
· Creating a new body of law
· Administrative challenges in establishing a new court
· Later Phases of Court history, including significant events since inception
· Gardner v. Brown-first USCAVC decision subject of Supreme Court review
· The effect of the Veterans Claims Assistance Act on the Court
· The second wave of new judges
· Establishment of USCAVC Bar Association
· Temporary expansion of Court to nine judges
· Unique features of the Court and their impact
· Single-judge decision authority
· Representation of veterans by non-attorney practitioners
· Appellate review by an intermediate appellate court
· Court's place in the veterans appellate structure
· Significant decisions of the Court

Sources will include published records of the Court, other published accounts (such as journal articles, Congressional legislative records, and VA records), statistics, and oral histories.

Format.  The book will be a hard cover illustrated history of approximately 100-200 pages in length not including the table of contents, index and appendices. The book size is expected to be 6.75" x 10".

Terms of Service.  The Court will pay reasonable author's fees plus expenses.  The Court will not pay any fees incurred for the preparation of any bidder's response to this Request for Proposals.  There will be a series of deadlines for deliverables and drafts to the Court for review, with the ultimate time for the author(s) to complete the draft to be approximately one year from the signing of a contract.

Rights to the Work.  The Court will retain exclusive right to publish the materials. The author will be provided a specified number of copies for personal use and not for resale.

Selection Criteria. Selection is at the sole discretion of the Court but if a selection is made, it will be made based upon the Best Value.  Factors considered will include:
· author's proposed approach to the book, suggested deadlines, schedule, and budget
· author's overall experience
· quality of author's past publications
· author's familiarity with subject matter
· author's fee and estimated expenses

Selection and any resulting contract will be in compliance with the Court's procurement policy and all applicable federal laws. Award of a contract is contingent on the absence of, or the absence of appearance of, any conflicts of interest, as determined by the Court, between the bidder and the Court.

Proposals and Deadline.  All proposals should include the following:
 · a curriculum vitae for each author
· a 1,000-1,500 word description of the proposed approach to the book
· complete contact information for each author
· suggested deadlines and schedule for deliverables
· suggested budget to include fees and expenses
· two references

Deadline for the submission of proposals is November 30, 2015.  Proposals should be sent as email attachments to:

Gregory O. Block
Clerk of the Court
United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
625 Indiana Avenue, NW, Suite 900
Washington, D.C. 20004

Questions.  Questions should be directed to the Clerk of the Court care of the email address noted above.  Answers to questions will be sent by reply email, and all questions and answers submitted will be published for review on our Court website under "Employment" via the link titled "Court History Book Request for Proposals Q&A Summary."

Eaton on Spectral Evidence at Salem, 1692

Matteson's "Trial of George Jacobs" (LC)
Rebecca Eaton has posted her LL.B honors paper at the Victoria University of Wellington, written in 2013, The Legitimacy of Spectral Evidence During the Salem Witchcraft Trials:
This paper looks at the use of spectral evidence during the Salem witch trials and examines whether its use was legitimate and in accordance with the evidential standards of the time (1692). Ultimately this paper finds that the use of spectral evidence was legitimate as it followed the slim guidelines available at the time. The court followed a strong precedent and the limited statutory guidance and instructions that were available. However there was acknowledgement at the time that spectral evidence was limiting the rights of those accused and was leading to unjust convictions. As such these trials invoked an acknowledgement of more modern standards of evidence. Therefore spectral evidence was legitimately used given the guidelines of the time despite the unjust effect that it had.

Cohen on Judge Ginsburg's Seg Academy Case

My Georgetown Law colleague Stephen B. Cohen has posted “Seg Academies,” Taxes, and Judge Ginsburg, which is forthcoming in The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ed. Scott Dodson (Cambridge University Press, 2015):
This essay recounts the historical, political, and legal context in which Judge Ginsburg’s ruling in the Wright case arose. This context explains the importance of her decision to the battle against segregated education and highlights as well the repeated efforts of powerful political forces, including the Reagan administration and congressional conservatives, to cripple efforts to prohibit racially discriminatory private schools from receiving federal subsidies through the tax system. This essay also aims to highlight Wright’s place in the modern doctrine of educational discrimination.
Cambridge writes of the collection:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a legal icon. In more than four decades as a lawyer, professor, appellate judge, and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Ginsburg has influenced the law and society in real and permanent ways. This book chronicles and evaluates the remarkable achievements Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made over the past half century. Including chapters written by prominent court watchers and leading scholars from law, political science, and history, it offers diverse perspectives on an array of doctrinal areas and on different time periods in Ginsburg's career. Together, these perspectives document the impressive legacy of one of the most important figures in modern law.
 The TOC is here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Age of Lawyers: The Roots of American Law in Shakespeare's Britain

Paster Reading Room (credit)
We have the following announcement of a new (and free) exhibit at the Folger, Age of Lawyers: The Roots of American Law in Shakespeare's Britain.  The curator is the Folger’s Caroline Duroselle-Melish.  The Academic Advisor is Erin Kidwell of the Georgetown Law Library.  (Georgetown is loaning Sir Edward Coke’s annotated copy of Bracton.)  The exhibit runs September 12, 2015 through January 3, 2016, so plan on viewing it when you’re in town for the ASLH meeting a few blocks away.  The exhibit is in memory of Dr. Christopher Brooks (1948–2014).
In the 800th anniversary year of the Magna Carta, Age of Lawyers will offer a close-up look at the rapid increase of lawyers and legal actions in Shakespeare's Britain, from the law's impact on daily life to major political and legal disputes—some invoking the Magna Carta—that still influence American politics and government.

Age of Lawyers will give visitors the chance to explore many of the Folger legal manuscripts on display in further depth through newly digitized images and translated transcripts produced by a current Folger project, Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO).

Porter, "Their Lives, Their Wills: Women in the Borderlands, 1750–1846"

New from Texas Tech University Press: Their Lives, Their Wills: Women in the Borderlands, 1750–1846, by Amy M. Porter (Texas A&M University). A description from the Press:
In 1815, in the Spanish settlement of San Antonio de Béxar, a dying widow named María Concepción de Estrada recorded her last will and testament. Estrada used her will to record her debts and credits, specify her property, leave her belongings to her children, make requests for her funeral arrangements, and secure her religious salvation.

Wills like Estrada’s reveal much about women’s lives in the late Spanish and Mexican colonial communities of Santa Fe, El Paso, San Antonio, Saltillo, and San Esteban de Nueva Tlaxcala in present-day northern Mexico. Using last wills and testaments as main sources, Amy M. Porter explores the ways in which these documents reveal details about religion, family, economics, and material culture. In addition, the wills speak loudly to the difficulties of frontier life, in which widowhood and child mortality were commonplace. Most importantly, information in the wills helps to explain the workings of the patriarchal system of Spanish and Mexican borderland communities, showing that gender role divisions were fluid in some respects. Supplemented by censuses, inventories, court cases, and travelers’ accounts, women’s wills paint a more complete picture of life in the borderlands than the previously male-dominated historiography of the region.
More information is available here.