Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Jurisprudence Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Articles 1 - 26 of 26

Full-Text Articles in Jurisprudence

The Declaration Of Independence And The American Theory Of Government: “First Come Rights, And Then Comes Government”, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2019

The Declaration Of Independence And The American Theory Of Government: “First Come Rights, And Then Comes Government”, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The topic of this panel is the Declaration of Independence, to which I devoted a chapter of my recent book, Our Republican Constitution. I want to draw on that book to make five points.


The Canon Wars, Anita S. Krishnakumar, Victoria Nourse Nov 2018

The Canon Wars, Anita S. Krishnakumar, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Canons are taking their turn down the academic runway in ways that no one would have foretold just a decade ago. Affection for canons of construction has taken center stage in recent Supreme Court cases and in constitutional theory. Harvard Dean John Manning and originalists Will Baude and Stephen Sachs have all suggested that principles of “ordinary interpretation” including canons should inform constitutional interpretation. Given this newfound enthusiasm for canons, and their convergence in both constitutional and statutory law, it is not surprising that we now have two competing book-length treatments of the canons—one by Justice Scalia and Bryan ...


State Action And The Constitution's Middle Band, Louis Michael Seidman Oct 2018

State Action And The Constitution's Middle Band, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

On conventional accounts, the state action doctrine is dichotomous. When the government acts, constitutional limits take hold and the government action is invalid if those limits are exceeded. When the government fails to act, the state action doctrine leaves decisions to individuals, who are permitted to violate what would otherwise be constitutional constraints.

It turns out though that the modern state action doctrine creates three rather than two domains. There is indeed a private, inner band where there is thought to be insufficient government action to trigger constitutional constraints, but often there is also a public, outer band where there ...


Philosophical Legal Ethics: An Affectionate History, David Luban, W. Bradley Wendel Jul 2017

Philosophical Legal Ethics: An Affectionate History, David Luban, W. Bradley Wendel

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The modern subject of theoretical legal ethics began in the 1970s. This brief history distinguishes two waves of theoretical writing on legal ethics. The “First Wave” connects the subject to moral philosophy and focuses on conflicts between ordinary morality and lawyers’ role morality, while the “Second Wave” focuses instead on the role legal representation plays in maintaining and fostering a pluralist democracy. We trace the emergence of the First Wave to the larger social movements of the 1960s and 1970s; in the conclusion, we speculate about possible directions for a Third Wave of theoretical legal ethics, based in behavioral ethics ...


The Triumph Of Gay Marriage And The Failure Of Constitutional Law, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2015

The Triumph Of Gay Marriage And The Failure Of Constitutional Law, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The Supreme Court's much anticipated invalidation of gay marriage bans improved the personal lives of millions of ordinary Americans. It made the country a more decent place. Even Chief Justice Roberts, at the conclusion of his otherwise scathing dissent, acknowledged that the decision was a cause for many Americans to celebrate.

But although the Chief Justice thought that advocates of gay marriage should "by all means celebrate today's decision," he admonished them "not [to] celebrate the Constitution." The Constitution, he said, "had nothing to do with it".

Part I of this article quarrels with the Chief Justice's ...


Time-Mindedness And Jurisprudence, David Luban Jan 2015

Time-Mindedness And Jurisprudence, David Luban

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Analytic jurisprudence often strikes outsiders as a discipline unto itself, unconnected with the problems that other legal scholarship investigates. Gerald Postema, in the article to which this paper responds, traces this “unsociability” to two narrowing defects in the project of analytic jurisprudence: (1) from Austin on, it has concerned itself largely with the analysis of professional concepts, without connecting that analysis with other disciplines that study law, nor with the history of jurisprudence itself, nor with general philosophy; (2) analytic jurisprudence studies only time-­‐slice legal systems, rather than legal systems unfolding in history. He argues that a time-­‐slice ...


The Legacy Of Ronald Dworkin (1931-2013): A Legal Theory And Methodology For Hedgehogs, Hercules, And One Right Answers, Imer Flores Dec 2014

The Legacy Of Ronald Dworkin (1931-2013): A Legal Theory And Methodology For Hedgehogs, Hercules, And One Right Answers, Imer Flores

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this paper the author addresses Ronald Dworkin’s work and assesses his legacy to legal, moral and political philosophy. And so, considers among its merits having developed an original legal theory with its distinctive methodology, which not only has transcended the Natural Law and Legal Positivism dichotomy, but also has reintegrated law into a branch of political morality and defended as a corollary the one right answer thesis. Hence, commences by identifying the dworkininan challenge; continues by introducing some basic definitions and distinctions between jurisprudence, legal philosophy (or philosophy of law) and legal theory (or theory of law), on ...


Analogical Legal Reasoning: Theory And Evidence, Joshua C. Teitelbaum Mar 2014

Analogical Legal Reasoning: Theory And Evidence, Joshua C. Teitelbaum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The paper offers a formal model of analogical legal reasoning and takes the model to data. Under the model, the outcome of a new case is a weighted average of the outcomes of prior cases. The weights capture precedential influence and depend on fact similarity (distance in fact space) and precedential authority (position in the judicial hierarchy). The empirical analysis suggests that the model is a plausible model for the time series of U.S. maritime salvage cases. Moreover, the results evince that prior cases decided by inferior courts have less influence than prior cases decided by superior courts.


Constitutional Skepticism: A Recovery And Preliminary Evaluation, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2014

Constitutional Skepticism: A Recovery And Preliminary Evaluation, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The aim of this article is to recover and reevaluate the American tradition of constitutional skepticism. Part I consists of a brief history of skepticism running from before the founding to the modern period. My aim here is not to provide anything like a complete description of the historical actors, texts, and events that I discuss. Instead, I link together familiar episodes and arguments that stretch across our history so as to demonstrate that they are part of a common narrative that has been crucial to our self-identity. Part II disentangles the various strands of skeptical argument. I argue that ...


Decision Theory And Babbitt V. Sweet Home: Skepticism About Norms, Discretion, And The Virtues Of Purposivism, Victoria Nourse May 2013

Decision Theory And Babbitt V. Sweet Home: Skepticism About Norms, Discretion, And The Virtues Of Purposivism, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this writing, the author applies a “decision theory” of statutory interpretation, elaborated recently in the Yale Law Journal, to Professor William Eskridge’s illustrative case, Babbitt v. Sweet Home Chapter of Communities for a Great Oregon. In the course of this application, she takes issue with the conventional wisdom that purposivism, as a method of statutory interpretation, is inevitably a more virtuous model of statutory interpretation. First, the author questions whether we have a clear enough jurisprudential picture both of judicial discretion and legal as opposed to political normativity. Second, she argues that, under decision theory, Sweet Home is ...


Communicative Content And Legal Content, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2013

Communicative Content And Legal Content, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This essay investigates a familiar set of questions about the relationship between legal texts (e.g., constitutions, statutes, opinions, orders, and contracts) and the content of the law (e.g., norms, rules, standards, doctrines, and mandates). Is the original meaning of the constitutional text binding on the Supreme Court when it develops doctrines of constitutional law? Should statutes be given their plain meaning or should judges devise statutory constructions that depart from the text to serve a purpose? What role should default rules play in the interpretation and construction of contracts? This essay makes two moves that can help lawyers ...


Promise Etc., Gregory Klass Jul 2012

Promise Etc., Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This Article examines the moral obligations contractual agreements generate. It distinguishes a narrow sense of "promise," central to autonomy theories, according to which to promise is to communicate an intention to undertake an obligation by the very communication of that intention. Not every agreement involves promises in this sense. Yet nonpromissory agreements too commonly generate moral obligations. And even when a party promises to perform, her promise need not be the only reason for her moral obligation to do so. Other possible reasons include reliance, an invitation to trust, implicit or explicit, principles of reciprocity, and the harm that nonperformance ...


The Problem About The Nature Of Law Vis-À-Vis Legal Rationality Revisited: Towards An Integrative Jurisprudence, Imer Flores Jan 2012

The Problem About The Nature Of Law Vis-À-Vis Legal Rationality Revisited: Towards An Integrative Jurisprudence, Imer Flores

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this paper the author argues, following Frederick Schauer, that attempting to move theoretically from-the-necessary-to-the-important may hinder our understanding of law. He further argues that attempting to move from-the-important-to-the-necessary may well be a more promising route for advancing our understanding of law as an interpretive practice which is not merely important or valuable but morally important or valuable and even necessary, as Ronald Dworkin has advocated. The authors argument also draws on the insights of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who by discussing the important, but apparently neither necessary nor sufficient aspects of legal practice, integrated both logic and experience into ...


Confucian Virtue Jurisprudence, Linghao Wang, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2012

Confucian Virtue Jurisprudence, Linghao Wang, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Virtue jurisprudence is an approach to legal theory that develops the implications of virtue ethics and virtue politics for the law. Recent work on virtue jurisprudence has emphasized a NeoAristotelian approach. This essay develops a virtue jurisprudence in the Confucian tradition. The title of this essay, “Confucian Virtue Jurisprudence,” reflects the central aim of our work, to build a contemporary theory of law that is both virtue-centered and that provides a contemporary reconstruction of the central ideas of the early Confucian intellectual tradition.

This essay provides a sketch of our contemporary version of Confucian virtue jurisprudence, including a view of ...


The Anti-Empathic Turn, Robin West Jan 2011

The Anti-Empathic Turn, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Justice, according to a broad consensus of our greatest twentieth century judges, requires a particular kind of moral judgment, and that moral judgment requires, among much else, empathy–the ability to understand not just the situation but also the perspective of litigants on warring sides of a lawsuit.

Excellent judging requires empathic excellence. Empathic understanding is, in some measure, an acquired skill as well as, in part, a natural ability. Some people do it well; some, not so well. Again, this has long been understood, and has been long argued, particularly, although not exclusively, by some of our most admired ...


Comments On Roger Cotterrell's Essay, 'The Struggle For Law: Some Dilemmas Of Cultural Legality', Robin West Jan 2009

Comments On Roger Cotterrell's Essay, 'The Struggle For Law: Some Dilemmas Of Cultural Legality', Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

First, many thanks to Carrie Menkel-Meadow, the editors of The International Journal of Law In Context and the sponsors of this series for facilitating this lecture, and for inviting my participation. And a special thank you to Professor Roger Cotterrell for sharing with us such a generous, humanistic and hopeful account of law’s moral possibilities, when faced with multicultural conflict within a society governed by a liberal rule of law. I very much appreciate the opportunity to reflect on this set of claims, although I feel somewhat an outsider to the task, as I’ll explain below. I understand ...


Re-Imagining Justice, Robin West Jan 2003

Re-Imagining Justice, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

What do we mean by legal justice, as opposed to distributive, or social, or political justice; what is the justice, that is, we hope law promotes? What is the justice that lawyers and judges, peculiarly, are professionally committed to pursue? What is the virtue around which, arguably, this profession, and the individuals within it, have defined their public lives?

Justice -- and more particularly legal justice -- is a badly under-theorized topic in jurisprudence; perhaps surprisingly, there is little written on it. The paucity of writing of course has a history. It can be traced to the turn of the last century ...


Tradition, Principle And Self-Sovereignty: Competing Conceptions Of Liberty In The United States Constitution, Robin West Jan 2002

Tradition, Principle And Self-Sovereignty: Competing Conceptions Of Liberty In The United States Constitution, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The “liberty” protected by the United States Constitution has been variously interpreted as the “liberty” of thinking persons to speak, worship and associate with others, unimpeded by onerous state law; the liberty of consumers and producers to make individual market choices, including the choice to sell one’s labour at any price one sees fit, free of redistributive or paternalistic legislation that might restrict it; and the liberty of all of us in the domestic sphere to make choices regarding reproductive and family life, free of state law that might restrict it on grounds relating to public morals. Although the ...


Are There Nothing But Texts In This Class? Interpreting The Interpretive Turns In Legal Thought, Robin West Jan 2000

Are There Nothing But Texts In This Class? Interpreting The Interpretive Turns In Legal Thought, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Allan Hutchinson remarks at the beginning of his interesting article that Gadamer's writings have had only a peripheral influence on legal scholarship -- only occasionally cited, and then begrudgingly so, and never given the serious attention they deserve or require. Nevertheless, Hutchinson acknowledges, Gadamerian influences can be noted -- particularly in the now widely shared understanding that adjudication is, fundamentally, an interpretive exercise. Even with this qualification, though, I think Hutchinson understates Gadamer's impact. Whatever may be true of Gadamer's influence in other disciplines, his influence in law has been unambiguously both broad and deep -- although it has come ...


Constitutional Fictions And Meritocratic Success Stories, Robin West Jan 1996

Constitutional Fictions And Meritocratic Success Stories, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

L.H. LaRue demonstrates in his book, Constitutional Law as Fiction, that, at least in the realm of constitutional law, there is no simple correspondence between fiction and falsehood, or fact and truth. Partial or fictive accounts of our constitutional history, even when they are riddled with inaccuracies, may state deep truths about our world, and accurate recitations of historical events may be either intentionally or unintentionally misleading in the extreme. According to LaRue, the Supreme Court engages in a form of storytelling or myth-making that goes beyond the inevitably partial narratives of fact and precedent. The Supreme Court also ...


The Constitution Of Reasons, Robin West Jan 1994

The Constitution Of Reasons, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Cass Sunstein's book, The Partial Constitution, brings together a number of his constitutional law essays from the last ten years. During that time, Sunstein has argued, powerfully, for the unconstitutionality of regulatory constraints on access to abortion; for the constitutionality of and the need for regulation of violent pornography; for the constitutionality of limits on both campaign spending and congressional control over public broadcasting; for the deep consistency, conventional wisdom to the contrary notwithstanding, of the Court's repudiation of Lochner in 1937 with its 1974 decision in Roe v. Wade; for the view that we should accord far ...


Natural Law Ambiguities, Robin West Jan 1993

Natural Law Ambiguities, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

I share with Fred Schauer the relatively unpopular belief that the positivist insistence that we keep separate the legal "is" from the legal "ought" is a logical prerequisite to meaningful legal criticism, and therefore, in the constitutional context, is a logical prerequisite to meaningful criticism of the Constitution. As Schauer argues, despite the modern inclination to associate positivism with conservatism, the positivist "separation thesis," properly understood, facilitates legal criticism and legal reform, not reactionary acquiescence. If we want to improve law, we must resist the urge to see it through the proverbial rose-colored glasses; we must be clear that a ...


Reconstructing Liberty, Robin West Jan 1992

Reconstructing Liberty, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

It is commonly and rightly understood in this country that our constitutional system ensures, or seeks to ensure, that individuals are accorded the greatest degree of personal, political, social, and economic liberty possible, consistent with a like amount of liberty given to others, the duty and right of the community to establish the conditions for a moral and secure collective life, and the responsibility of the state to provide for the common defense of the community against outside aggression. Our distinctive cultural and constitutional commitment to individual liberty places very real restraints on what our elected representatives can do, even ...


Law, Literature, And The Celebration Of Authority, Robin West Jan 1989

Law, Literature, And The Celebration Of Authority, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Richard Posner's new book, Law and Literature: A Misunderstood Relation, is a defense of “liberal legalism” against a group of modern critics who have only one thing in common: their use of either particular pieces of literature or literary theory to mount legal critiques. Perhaps for that reason, it is very hard to discern a unified thesis within Posner's book regarding the relationship between law and literature. In part, Posner is complaining about a pollution of literature by its use and abuse in political and legal argument; thus, the “misunderstood relation” to which the title refers. At times ...


Jurisprudence And Gender, Robin West Jan 1988

Jurisprudence And Gender, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

What is a human being? Legal theorists must, perforce, answer this question: jurisprudence, after all, is about human beings. The task has not proven to be divisive. In fact, virtually all modern American legal theorists, like most modern moral and political philosophers, either explicitly or implicitly embrace what I will call the "separation thesis" about what it means to be a human being: a "human being," whatever else he is, is physically separate from all other human beings. I am one human being and you are another, and that distinction between you and me is central to the meaning of ...


Adjudication Is Not Interpretation: Some Reservations About The Law-As-Literature Movement, Robin West Jan 1987

Adjudication Is Not Interpretation: Some Reservations About The Law-As-Literature Movement, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Among other achievements, the modern law-as-literature movement has prompted increasing numbers of legal scholars to embrace the claim that adjudication is interpretation, and more specifically, that constitutional adjudication is interpretation of the Constitution. That adjudication is interpretation -- that an adjudicative act is an interpretive act -- more than any other central commitment, unifies the otherwise diverse strands of the legal and constitutional theory of the late twentieth century.

In this article, I will argue in this article against both modern forms of interpretivism. The analogue of law to literature, on which much of modern interpretivism is based, although fruitful, has carried ...