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Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

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Full-Text Articles in Jurisprudence

Contracts, Constitutions, And Getting The Interpretation-Construction Distinction Right, Gregory Klass Jan 2019

Contracts, Constitutions, And Getting The Interpretation-Construction Distinction Right, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Interpretation determines the meaning of a legal actor’s words or other significant acts, construction their legal effect. Using contract law and then two nineteenth century theories of constitutional interpretation as examples, this Article advances four claims about interpretation, construction, and the relationship between the two. First, many theorists, following Francis Lieber, assume that rules of construction apply only when interpretation runs out, such as when a text’s meaning is ambiguous or does not address an issue. In fact, a rule of construction is always necessary to determine a legal speech act’s effect, including when its meaning is ...


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.


All Balls And No Strikes: The Roberts Court’S Anti-Worker Activism, J. Maria Glover Jan 2019

All Balls And No Strikes: The Roberts Court’S Anti-Worker Activism, J. Maria Glover

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

For decades, legislatures and courts have created and preserved rights and remedies for vulnerable groups—consumers, employees, victims of mass torts, investors, and the like. Both branches have extolled the virtues of these substantive rights and the private enforcement mechanisms required to effectuate them. However, despite statements like that of Justice Roberts and others that the judiciary is not a lawmaking body—indeed, that the judicial institution should take care to exercise restraint—the Roberts Court has engaged in sweeping reform that tends to extinguish these substantive rights.

In 2012, I traced how the Roberts Court paid scant attention to ...


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 ...


Contract Exposition And Formalism, Gregory Klass Feb 2017

Contract Exposition And Formalism, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Formalism in contract law has had many defenders and many critics. What courts need, however, is an account of when formalist approaches work and when they do not. This article addresses that need by developing a general theory of the rules of contract interpretation and construction—contract “exposition.” The theory distinguishes inter alia two forms of formalism. Formalities effect legal change by virtue of their form alone, and thereby obviate interpretation. Examples from contract law include “as is”, the seal and boilerplate terms. Formalities work when parties intend their legal effects, that is, when they perform juristic acts. Plain meaning ...


The Rules Of The Game And The Morality Of Efficient Breach, Gregory Klass Jan 2017

The Rules Of The Game And The Morality Of Efficient Breach, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Moralists have long criticized the theory of efficient breach for its advocacy of promise breaking. But a fully developed theory of efficient breach has an internal morality of its own. It argues that sophisticated parties contract for efficient breach, which in the long run maximizes everyone’s welfare. And the theory marks some breaches—those that are opportunistic, obstructive, or otherwise inefficient—as wrongs that the law should deter, as transgressions that should not be priced but punished. That internal morality, however, does not excuse the theory from moral scrutiny. An extended comparison to Jean Renoir’s 1939 film, La ...


Knowing When Not To Fight, David Luban Jan 2016

Knowing When Not To Fight, David Luban

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Should military personnel (“soldiers”) become selective conscientious objectors to an unjust war? This chapter argues, first, that in most cases the fog of war and politics makes it unreasonable to expect soldiers to make fact-intensive judgments about whether the war is just. Second, it argues that even a justwar tribunal, of the sort proposed by Jeff McMahan, will not do the job. It will inevitably lack the legitimacy and fact-finding capacity necessary to reassure soldiers in such a weighty decision. Third, the moral importance of maintaining civilian control of the military means that soldiers should generally obey orders to deploy ...


Law's Emotions, Robin West Jan 2016

Law's Emotions, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The emerging interdisciplinary field of “Law and Emotions” brings together scholars from law, psychology, classics, economics, literature and philosophy all of whom have a defining interest in law’s various relations to our emotions and to emotional life: they share a passion for law’s passions. They also share the critical premise, or assumption, that most legal scholars of at least the last half century, with a few exceptions, have mistakenly accorded too great of a role to reason, rationality, and the cool calculations of self interest, and have accorded too small a role to emotion, to the creation, the ...


What If Fiduciary Obligations Are Like Contractual Ones?, Gregory Klass Jan 2016

What If Fiduciary Obligations Are Like Contractual Ones?, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This essay, to appear in Contract, Status, and Fiduciary Law (Miller & Gold, 2016), explores three ways fiduciary obligations might be like contractual ones: in the methods lawmakers use or should use to determine the content of the obligation; in the private voluntary acts that generate the obligation; and in the fact that the obligation is a default that parties have the power to alter. The thesis is that to the extent that these similarities exist, they are not especially revealing. Theorists who emphasize the similarities commonly treat contract law as a private power-conferring rule, then analogize the law of fiduciary obligations to it. In fact, the law of contract is more complex and serves a broader range of purposes than just giving private parties the ability to ...


Out-Beale-Ing Beale, Carlos Manuel Vázquez Jan 2016

Out-Beale-Ing Beale, Carlos Manuel Vázquez

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In response to the 1991 Supreme Court decision resuscitating the presumption against extraterritoriality [hereinafter “PAE” or “presumption”], EEOC v. Arabian American Oil Co. (Aramco), Larry Kramer described the presumption as an anachronism—a throwback to the strict territorialist approach to choice of law that prevailed before the mid-Twentieth Century but has been mostly abandoned since then. The title of his scathing article, Vestiges of Beale, referred to Joseph Beale, the Harvard Law professor and reporter of the First Restatement of Conflict of Laws, whose since-discredited theories underlay that Restatement’s approach to choice of law. In the cases since Aramco ...


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 ...


Mapping A Cultural Studies Of Law, Naomi Mezey Jan 2015

Mapping A Cultural Studies Of Law, Naomi Mezey

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this chapter I briefly map the terrain of a set of scholarly approaches that could be called a cultural analysis of law. A cultural analysis or a cultural studies of law generally starts with the dual premise that law is a set of meaning-making practices that exists within and is the product of a particular culture and that the culture is a set of meaning-making practices that exists within and is the product of a particular set of laws.

In this chapter I unpack and elaborate this foundational idea by exploring three routes along which a cultural analysis of ...


A Deer In Headlights: The Supreme Court, Lgbt Rights, And Equal Protection, Nan D. Hunter Jan 2015

A Deer In Headlights: The Supreme Court, Lgbt Rights, And Equal Protection, Nan D. Hunter

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this essay, I argue that the problems with how courts apply Equal Protection principles to classifications not already recognized as suspect reach beyond the most immediate example of sexual orientation. Three structural weaknesses drive the juridical reluctance to bring coherence to this body of law: two doctrinal and one theoretical. The first doctrinal problem is that the socio-political assumptions that the 1938 Supreme Court relied on in United States v. Carolene Products, Inc. to justify strict scrutiny for “discrete and insular minorities” have lost their validity. In part because of Roe v. Wade-induced PTSD, the courts have not ...


Two Excursions Into Current U.S. Supreme Court Opinion-Writing, Paul F. Rothstein Jan 2015

Two Excursions Into Current U.S. Supreme Court Opinion-Writing, Paul F. Rothstein

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In the last weeks in June, 2015, as the present term of the U.S. Supreme Court drew to a close, many controversial and important decisions were handed down by the Court. The substance of the decisions has been written about extensively. Two of the decisions in particular, though, caught my eye as a teacher of legal techniques, not for the importance of the subject of the particular decision, but for what they may illustrate in a teachable fashion about at least some opinion writing. The two cases are Ohio v. Clark (June 18, 2015) interpreting the Confrontation Clause of ...


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 ...


Gatsby And Tort, Robin West Jan 2015

Gatsby And Tort, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The Great Gatsby is filled with potential tort claims, from drunken or reckless driving to assault and battery. In a pivotal passage Nick Carraway, the narrator of The Great Gatsby, judges Daisy and Tom as “careless people,” who “destroy creatures and leave others to clean up the mess.” The carelessness, negligence, and recklessness portrayed by Fitzgerald’s characters shows an absence of due care, long regarded as the foundation for tort law. Although there are torts, tortfeasors, and tortious behavior aplenty in The Great Gatsby, the novel is void of even a mention of tort law. Why?

The first part ...


Pluralism And Its Perils: Navigating The Tension Between Gay Rights And Religious Expression, Nan D. Hunter Jan 2015

Pluralism And Its Perils: Navigating The Tension Between Gay Rights And Religious Expression, Nan D. Hunter

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The conflict between gay equality claims and religious liberty claims permeates debates over marriage equality and LGBT civil rights. Using as its centerpiece a decision that forced Georgetown University to provide benefits for a gay student organization, this article examines both the doctrinal underpinnings of how courts resolve the tension between gay rights and religion and the principles of pluralism that are at stake.

The Georgetown case is rightly understood as an exemplar of judicial minimalism. This article argues that the values of learning things undecided, while real, may be outweighed by lost opportunities for advancing principles that also foster ...


Disappearing Claims And The Erosion Of Substantive Law, J. Maria Glover Jan 2015

Disappearing Claims And The Erosion Of Substantive Law, J. Maria Glover

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The Supreme Court’s arbitration jurisprudence from the last five years represents the culmination of a three-decade-long expansion of the use of private arbitration as an alternative to court adjudication in the resolution of disputes of virtually every type of justiciable claim. Because privatizing disputes that would otherwise be public may well erode public confidence in public institutions and the judicial process, many observers have linked this decades-long privatization of dispute resolution to an erosion of the public realm. Here, I argue that the Court’s recent arbitration jurisprudence undermines the substantive law itself.

While this shift from dispute resolution ...


Ambiguous-Purpose Statements Of Children And Other Victims Of Abuse Under The Confrontation Clause, Paul F. Rothstein Jan 2015

Ambiguous-Purpose Statements Of Children And Other Victims Of Abuse Under The Confrontation Clause, Paul F. Rothstein

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The author examines in this paper two kinds of ambiguous-purpose out-of-court statements that are especially problematic under current Confrontation law--problematic in ways that we hope will be solved directly or indirectly by the Supreme Court when it renders its decision in Ohio v. Clark. The statements he examines are:

(1) Statements made by abused children concerning their abuse, for example to police, physicians, teachers, welfare workers, baby sitters, or family members, some of whom may be under a legal duty to report suspected abuse to legal authorities. At least some of these statements will be directly addressed by the Court ...


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 ...


Asymmetric Empirical Similarity, Joshua C. Teitelbaum Mar 2014

Asymmetric Empirical Similarity, 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.


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.


Toward A Jurisprudence Of The Civil Rights Acts, Robin West Jan 2014

Toward A Jurisprudence Of The Civil Rights Acts, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

What is the nature of the “rights,” jurisprudentially, that the 1964 Civil Rights Act legally prescribed? And, more generally, what is a “civil right”? Today, lawyers tend to think of civil rights and particularly those that originated in the 1964 Act, as antidiscrimination rights: our “civil rights,” on this understanding, are our rights not to be discriminated against, by employers, schools, landlords, property vendors, hoteliers, restaurant owners, and providers of public transportation, no less than by states and state actors, on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality or disability. Contemporary civil rights scholarship overwhelmingly reflects the same conception ...


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 ...


The Trickle-Down War, Rosa Brooks Jan 2014

The Trickle-Down War, Rosa Brooks

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The history of the European nation-state, wrote political sociologist Charles Tilly, is inextricably bound up with the history of warfare. To oversimplify Tilly’s nuanced and complex arguments, the story goes something like this: As power-holders (originally bandits and local strongmen) sought to expand their power, they needed capital to pay for weapons, soldiers and supplies. The need for capital and new recruits drove the creation of taxation systems and census mechanisms, and the need for more effective systems of taxation and recruitment necessitated better roads, better communications and better record keeping. This in turn enabled the creation of larger ...


Human Rights Pragmatism And Human Dignity, David Luban Dec 2013

Human Rights Pragmatism And Human Dignity, David Luban

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Human rights sound a lot like moral rights: rights that we have because we are human. Many philosophers think it follows that the list of international human rights must therefore be founded on some philosophical account of moral rights or of human dignity. More recently, other philosophers have rejected this foundationalist picture of international human rights (“foundationalist” meaning that moral rights are the foundation of international human rights). These critics argue that international human rights need no philosophical foundation; instead, we should look to the actual practices of human rights: the practices of international institutions, tribunals, NGOs, monitors, and activists ...


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 ...


Civil Rights For The Twenty-First Century: Lessons From Justice Thurgood Marshall's Race-Transcending Jurisprudence, Sheryll Cashin Jan 2013

Civil Rights For The Twenty-First Century: Lessons From Justice Thurgood Marshall's Race-Transcending Jurisprudence, Sheryll Cashin

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This Essay pays tribute to justice Thurgood Marshall's race-transcending vision of universal human dignity, and explores the importance of building cross-racial alliances to modern civil rights advocacy. justice Marshall's role as a "Race Man" is evident in much of his jurisprudence, where he fought for years to promote equal opportunity and equal justice. As an advocate for all marginalized people, justice Marshall viewed equal justice as transcending race, and this Essay suggests that the multi-racial coalition that supported President Obama aligns with Marshall's vision. The Essay evaluates the civil rights movement through the lens of Justice Marshall ...