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Full-Text Articles in Jurisprudence

Making Meaning: Towards A Narrative Theory Of Statutory Interpretation And Judicial Justification, Randy D. Gordon Mar 2019

Making Meaning: Towards A Narrative Theory Of Statutory Interpretation And Judicial Justification, Randy D. Gordon

Randy D. Gordon

The act of judging is complex involving finding facts, interpreting law, and then deciding a particular dispute. But these are not discreet functions: they bleed into one another and are thus interdependent. This article aims to reveal-at least in part-how judges approach this process. To do so, I look at three sets of civil RICO cases that align and diverge from civil antitrust precedents. I then posit that the judges in these cases base their decisions on assumptions about RICO's purpose. These assumptions, though often tacit and therefore not subject to direct observation, are nonetheless sometimes revealed when a ...


Choice Theory: A Restatement, Michael A. Heller, Hanoch Dagan Jan 2019

Choice Theory: A Restatement, Michael A. Heller, Hanoch Dagan

Faculty Scholarship

Choice theory advances a liberal approach to contract law. It brings jurisprudential coherence to the field, explains many puzzling doctrines, and offers a normatively-attractive reform program. In the years since choice theory first appeared, dozens of scholars have subjected it to the most rigorous scrutiny. As a result, choice theory has emerged stronger. This chapter restates the theory, and brings it up-to-date.

First, we refine the concept of autonomy for contract. Then we address range, limit, and floor, three principles that together justify contract law in a liberal society. The first concerns the state’s obligation proactively to facilitate availability ...


Democratizing Interpretation, Anya Bernstein Nov 2018

Democratizing Interpretation, Anya Bernstein

Journal Articles

Judges interpreting statutes sometimes seem eager to outsource the work. They quote ordinary speakers to define a statutory term, point to how an audience understands it, or pin it down with interpretive canons. But sometimes conduct that appears to diminish someone’s power instead sneakily enhances it. So it is, I argue, with these forms of interpretive outsourcing. Each seems to constrain judges’ authority by handing the reins to someone else, giving interpretation a democratized veneer. But in fact each funnels power right back to the judge.

The outsourcing approaches I describe show a disconnect between the questions judges pose ...


The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin Jan 2018

The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin

Articles

It has become popular to identify a “consensus” on criminal justice reform, but how deep is that consensus, actually? This Article argues that the purported consensus is much more limited than it initially appears. Despite shared reformist vocabulary, the consensus rests on distinct critiques that identify different flaws and justify distinct policy solutions. The underlying disagreements transcend traditional left/right political divides and speak to deeper disputes about the state and the role of criminal law in society.

The Article maps two prevailing, but fundamentally distinct, critiques of criminal law: (1) the quantitative approach (what I call the “over” frame ...


For Legal Principles, Mitchell N. Berman Jun 2017

For Legal Principles, Mitchell N. Berman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Most legal thinkers believe that legal rules and legal principles are meaningfully distinguished. Many jurists may have no very precise distinction in mind, and those who do might not all agree. But it is widely believed that legal norms come in different logical types, and that one difference is reasonably well captured by a nomenclature that distinguishes “rules” from “principles.” Larry Alexander is the foremost challenger to this bit of legal-theoretic orthodoxy. In several articles, but especially in “Against Legal Principles,” an influential article co-authored with Ken Kress two decades ago, Alexander has argued that legal principles cannot exist.

In ...


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 ...


Making Meaning: Towards A Narrative Theory Of Statutory Interpretation And Judicial Justification, Randy D. Gordon Jan 2017

Making Meaning: Towards A Narrative Theory Of Statutory Interpretation And Judicial Justification, Randy D. Gordon

Faculty Scholarship

The act of judging is complex involving finding facts, interpreting law, and then deciding a particular dispute. But these are not discreet functions: they bleed into one another and are thus interdependent. This article aims to reveal-at least in part-how judges approach this process. To do so, I look at three sets of civil RICO cases that align and diverge from civil antitrust precedents. I then posit that the judges in these cases base their decisions on assumptions about RICO's purpose. These assumptions, though often tacit and therefore not subject to direct observation, are nonetheless sometimes revealed when a ...


Faultless Guilt: Toward A Relationship Based View Of Criminal Liability, Amy Sepinwall Dec 2016

Faultless Guilt: Toward A Relationship Based View Of Criminal Liability, Amy Sepinwall

Amy J. Sepinwall

There is in the criminal law perhaps no principle more canonical than the fault principle, which holds that one may be punished only where one is blameworthy, and one is blameworthy only where one is at fault. Courts, criminal law scholars, moral philosophers and textbook authors all take the fault principle to be the foundational requirement for a just criminal law. Indeed, perceived threats to the fault principle in the mid-Twentieth Century yielded no less an achievement than the drafting of the Model Penal Code, which had as its guiding purpose an effort to safeguard faultless conduct from criminal condemnation ...


Stephenmfeldmanpostmodern.Pdf, Stephen M. Feldman Dec 2016

Stephenmfeldmanpostmodern.Pdf, Stephen M. Feldman

Stephen M. Feldman

Three philosophical rationales--search-for-truth, self-governance, and self-fulfillment--have animated discussions of free expression for decades.  Each rationale emerged and attained prominence in American jurisprudence in specific political and cultural circumstances.  Moreover, each rationale shares a foundational commitment to the classical liberal (modernist) self.   But the three traditional rationales are incompatible with our digital age.  In particular, the idea of the classical liberal self enjoying maximum liberty in a private sphere does not fit in the postmodern information society.  The time for a new rationale has arrived.  The same sociocultural conditions that undermine the traditional rationales suggest a self-emergence rationale built on the ...


The Jewel In The Crown: Can India’S Strict Liability Doctrine Deepen Our Understanding Of Tort Law Theory?, Deepa Badrinarayana Dec 2016

The Jewel In The Crown: Can India’S Strict Liability Doctrine Deepen Our Understanding Of Tort Law Theory?, Deepa Badrinarayana

Deepa Badrinarayana

The evolution of tort law in former British colonies is not only fascinating; it also holds clues into the age old question of whether law or any discrete area of law can be universal. The exploration into doctrinal divergences and convergences is part of a larger quest: to capture the theoretical underpinnings of tort law and, in that process, discover the universal core of tort law, if there is one. For example, is the central purpose of tort law efficient resource allocation, corrective justice, or simply a compensatory system for wrongs? To answer these questions, theorists have generally considered tort ...


Justice Scalia’S Originalism And Formalism: The Rule Of Criminal Law As A Law Of Rules, Stephanos Bibas Aug 2016

Justice Scalia’S Originalism And Formalism: The Rule Of Criminal Law As A Law Of Rules, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Far too many reporters and pundits collapse law into politics, assuming that the left–right divide between Democratic and Republican appointees neatly explains politically liberal versus politically conservative outcomes at the Supreme Court. The late Justice Antonin Scalia defied such caricatures. His consistent judicial philosophy made him the leading exponent of originalism, textualism, and formalism in American law, and over the course of his three decades on the Court, he changed the terms of judicial debate. Now, as a result, supporters and critics alike start with the plain meaning of the statutory or constitutional text rather than loose appeals to ...


Jurisprudence Between Science And The Humanities, Dan Priel Jul 2016

Jurisprudence Between Science And The Humanities, Dan Priel

Dan Priel

For a long time philosophy has been unique among the humanities for seeking closer alliance with the sciences. In this Article I examine the place of science in relation to legal positivism. I argue that, historically, legal positivism has been advanced by theorists who were also positivists in the sense the term is used in the philosophy of social science: they were committed to the idea that the explanation of social phenomena should be conducted using similar methods to those used in the natural sciences. I then argue that since around 1960 jurisprudence, and legal positivism in particular, has undergone ...


Criminal Prosecution And Section 1983, Barry C. Scheck Apr 2016

Criminal Prosecution And Section 1983, Barry C. Scheck

Touro Law Review

No abstract provided.


International Legal Structuralism: A Primer, Justin Desautels-Stein Jan 2016

International Legal Structuralism: A Primer, Justin Desautels-Stein

Articles

International legal structuralism arrived on the shores of international thought in the 1980s. The arrival was not well-received, perhaps in part, because it was not well-understood. This essay aims to reintroduce legal structuralism and hopefully pave the way for new, and more positive, receptions and understandings. This reintroduction is organized around two claims regarding the broader encounter between international lawyers and critical theory in the ‘80s. The first was a jurisprudential claim about how the critics sought to show how international law was nothing more than a continuation of international politics by other means. The second was a historical claim ...


A Context For Legal History, Or, This Is Not Your Father’S Contextualism, Justin Desautels-Stein Jan 2016

A Context For Legal History, Or, This Is Not Your Father’S Contextualism, Justin Desautels-Stein

Articles

This short essay attempts a systematic rehearsal of the structuralist approach to legal historiography.


The Power Of The Body: Analyzing The Corporeal Logic Of Law And Social Change In The Arab Spring, Zeina Jallad, Zeina Jallad Jul 2015

The Power Of The Body: Analyzing The Corporeal Logic Of Law And Social Change In The Arab Spring, Zeina Jallad, Zeina Jallad

Zeina Jallad

The Power of the Body:

Analyzing the Logic of Law and Social Change in the Arab Spring

Abstract:

Under conditions of extreme social and political injustice - when human rights are under the most threat - rational arguments rooted in the language of human rights are often unlikely to spur reform or to ensure government adherence to citizens’ rights. When those entrusted with securing human dignity, rights, and freedoms fail to do so, and when other actors—such as human rights activists, international institutions, and social movements—fail to engage the levers of power to eliminate injustice, then oppressed and even quotidian ...


Foreword: Theorizing Contemporary Legal Thought, Justin Desautels-Stein, Duncan Kennedy Jan 2015

Foreword: Theorizing Contemporary Legal Thought, Justin Desautels-Stein, Duncan Kennedy

Articles

This is a co-authored foreword to a symposium in Law & Contemporary Problems titled "Theorizing Contemporary Legal Thought." It includes a discussion of the background of the project, a brief summary of the articles included in the issue, and a very short statement from Desautels-Stein and Kennedy on the "loss of faith" indicative of Contemporary Legal Thought.


Is The Law Hopeful?, Annelise Riles Dec 2014

Is The Law Hopeful?, Annelise Riles

Annelise Riles

This essay asks what legal studies can contribute to the now vigorous debates in economics, sociology, psychology, philosophy, literary studies and anthropology about the nature and sources of hope in personal and social life. What does the law contribute to hope? Is there anything hopeful about law? Rather than focus on the ends of law (social justice, economic efficiency, etc.) this essay focuses instead on the means (or techniques of the law). Through a critical engagement with the work of Hans Vaihinger, Morris Cohen and Pierre Schlag on legal fictions and legal technicalities, the essay argues that what is “hopeful ...


The Symbols Of Governance: Thurman Arnold And Post-Realist Legal Theory, Mark Fenster Dec 2014

The Symbols Of Governance: Thurman Arnold And Post-Realist Legal Theory, Mark Fenster

Mark Fenster

This article is an effort to provide both the intellectual context of Thurman Arnold's work and, through his work, a better sense of where and how the study of law turned after realism. The article is in five parts. Part I describes Arnold's relationship with legal realism, looking at the earliest part of his academic career when, as a mainstream realist, he performed empirical studies of local and state court systems. Part II is Arnold's proposed field of "Political Dynamics," an interdisciplinary approach to the symbols of law, politics, and economics. Part III considers Arnold's authorial ...


Restoring Constitutional Equilibrium, Adam Lamparello Jan 2014

Restoring Constitutional Equilibrium, Adam Lamparello

Adam Lamparello

In areas such as the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court's lack of institutional restraint has affected citizens of every political persuasion. In Bush v. Gore, the Florida Supreme Court’s recount order was blocked. ‘Liberals,’ lost. In Roe v. Wade, the Court required state legislatures to allow most abortions in the first trimester. ‘Conservatives’ lost. In Clinton v. City of New York and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the coordinate branch’s attempt to ensure a more efficient and fairer government was thwarted. Average citizens lost. The problem is not a liberal or conservative one, whatever those words ...


Gandhi’S Nightmare: Bhopal And The Need For A Mindful Jurisprudence, Nehal A. Patel Jan 2014

Gandhi’S Nightmare: Bhopal And The Need For A Mindful Jurisprudence, Nehal A. Patel

Nehal A. Patel

No abstract provided.


The Judge And The Drone, Justin Desautels-Stein Jan 2014

The Judge And The Drone, Justin Desautels-Stein

Articles

Among the most characteristic issues in modern jurisprudence is the distinction between adjudication and legislation. In the some accounts, a judge's role in deciding a particular controversy is highly constrained and limited to the application of preexisting law. Whereas legislation is inescapably political, adjudication requires at least some form of impersonal neutrality. In various ways over the past century, theorists have pressed this conventional account, complicating the conceptual underpinnings of the distinction between law-application and lawmaking. This Article contributes to this literature on the nature of adjudication through the resuscitation of a structuralist mode of legal interpretation. In the ...


Pragmatic Liberalism: The Outlook Of The Dead, Justin Desautels-Stein Jan 2014

Pragmatic Liberalism: The Outlook Of The Dead, Justin Desautels-Stein

Articles

At the turn of the twentieth century, the legal profession was rocked in a storm of reform. Among the sparks of change was the view that "law in the books" had drifted too far from the "law in action." This popular slogan reflected the broader postwar suspicion that the legal profession needed to be more realistic, more effective, and more in touch with the social needs of the time. A hundred years later, we face a similarly urgent demand for change. Across the blogs and journals stretches a thread of anxieties about the lack of fit between legal education and ...


»A Kőkorszak Metafizikája« És A »Szép Új Világ«: Herbert Hart A Jog Emberképéről [‘The Metaphysics Of The Stone Age’ And The ‘Brave New World’: Hart On The Law’S View Of Man], Péter Cserne Dec 2013

»A Kőkorszak Metafizikája« És A »Szép Új Világ«: Herbert Hart A Jog Emberképéről [‘The Metaphysics Of The Stone Age’ And The ‘Brave New World’: Hart On The Law’S View Of Man], Péter Cserne

Péter Cserne

This paper analyses H.L.A. Hart’s views on the epistemic character of the law’s assumptions about human behaviour, as articulated in Causation in the Law and Punishment and Responsibility. Hart suggests that the assumptions behind legal doctrines typically combine common sense factual beliefs, moral intuitions, and philosophical theories of earlier ages with sound moral principles, and empirical knowledge. An important task of legal theory is to provide a ‘rational and critical foundation’ for these doctrines. This does not only imply conceptual clarification in light of an epistemic ideal of objectivity but also involves legal theorists in ‘enlightenment ...


Will There Be A Science Of Law In The Twenty-First Century?, Richard Stith May 2013

Will There Be A Science Of Law In The Twenty-First Century?, Richard Stith

Richard Stith

The skepticism of the American Legal Realists and their heirs threatens to make a politically neutral science of law impossible and thus to undermine the liberal polity which needs such a science. Ronald Dworkin attempts to refute the skeptics and defend both legal theory and liberalism. However, the author points out, Dworkin and liberalism are themselves skeptics when it comes to moral principles, and, therefore, they cannot wholly escape from similar skepticism with regard to legal principles. Both Anglo-American and Continental legal history are examined in the course of these arguments.


At&T V. Concepcion: The Problem Of A False Majority, Lisa Tripp, Evan R. Hanson Mar 2013

At&T V. Concepcion: The Problem Of A False Majority, Lisa Tripp, Evan R. Hanson

Lisa Tripp

The Supreme Court’s 2011 decision in AT&T v. Concepcion is the first case where the Supreme Court explores the interplay between state law unconscionability doctrine and the vast preemptive power of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Although it is considered by many to be a landmark decision which has the potential for greatly expanding the already impressive preemptive power of the FAA, something is amiss with Concepcion.

AT&T v. Concepcion is ostensibly a 5-4 majority decision with a concurring opinion. However, the differences in the majority and concurring opinions are so profound that it appears that Justice Thomas actually concurred in the judgment only, even though he joined the putative majority opinion. This raises serious philosophical questions about jurisprudence, what is necessary to create a rule of law in the American legal system, and the precedential value of Concepcion itself.

Justice Thomas joined the majority opinion and provided the fifth vote, but wrote a concurring opinion that explicitly rejected the legal reasoning of the majority opinion in its entirety. The putative majority opinion authored by Justice Scalia allows that unconscionability can be a valid defense to the enforcement of an agreement to arbitrate, but in Concepcion, allowing California to apply its unconscionability doctrine (the Discover Bank rule) would frustrate the purposes and objectives of Congress in enacting the FAA. For these reasons the Scalia opinion found the law was preempted.

Justice Thomas, in contrast, does not believe that unconscionability can ever be a basis to invalidate an agreement to arbitrate and he reaffirmed his emphatic position articulated in Wyeth v. Levine that “[t]his Court’s entire body of purposes and objectives preemption jurisprudence is inherently flawed. The cases improperly rely on legislative history, broad atextual notions of congressional purpose, and even congressional inaction in order to pre-empt state law.”

Justice Thomas’s conclusion that the law was preempted turned on the text of the statute which he interprets as not allowing unconscionability-based defenses to preemption. Justice Thomas has reaffirmed his rejection of purposes and objectives preemption in cases decided after Concepcion. This means, looking at the substance of the opinions, that there are but four votes for the deciding rationale articulated in the Scalia opinion and there is not a single common denominator that the Scalia and Thomas opinions share, except that they agree on the result.

The Concepcion Court is, in substance, equally divided. Four members found that California’s unconscionability doctrine frustrated the purposes and objectives of the FAA, four in the dissent thought the law did not frustrate the purposes and objectives of the FAA, and one found that the purposes and objectives of Congress were immaterial to the resolution of the case.

How should lower courts react to an equally divided court in this situation? Does a Justice’s decision to join an opinion create a governing rule of law under these unusual circumstances? Can governing rules of law be created in the absence of a majority for the deciding rationale? Is a Justice’s labeling of an opinion as a regular concurrence dispositive or does its substance dictate the precedential value it is given?

The authors’ argue that the Supreme Court provided the answer to these questions over 100 years ago in Hertz v. Woodman:

Under the precedents of this court, and, as seems justified by reason as well as by authority, an affirmance by an equally divided court is, as between the parties, a conclusive determination and adjudication of the matter adjudged; but the principles of law involved not having been agreed upon by a majority of the court sitting prevents the case from becoming an authority for the determination of other cases, either in this or in inferior courts.

Under any rational reading of the opinions, there can be no doubt that “the principles of law involved [have not] been agreed upon by a majority of the court sitting” and this should “prevent[] the case from becoming authority for the determination of other cases, either in [the Supreme Court] or in inferior courts ...


The Risky Interplay Of Tort And Criminal Law: Punitive Damages, Daniel M. Braun Jan 2013

The Risky Interplay Of Tort And Criminal Law: Punitive Damages, Daniel M. Braun

Daniel M Braun

The rise of modern mass tort litigation in the U.S. has transformed punitive damages into something of a “hot button” issue. Since the size of punitive damage awards grew so dramatically in the past half century, this private law remedy has begun to involve issues of constitutional rights that traditionally pertained to criminal proceedings. This has created a risky interplay between tort and criminal law, and courts have thus been trying to find ways to properly manage punitive damage awards. The once rapidly expanding universe of punitive damages is therefore beginning to contract. There remain, however, very serious difficulties ...


Weeds In The Gardens Of Justice?The Survival Of Hyperpositivism In Polishlegal Culture As A Symptom/Sinthome, Rafal Manko Jan 2013

Weeds In The Gardens Of Justice?The Survival Of Hyperpositivism In Polishlegal Culture As A Symptom/Sinthome, Rafal Manko

Dr. Rafał Mańko

After 1989, the Polish legal elites embraced a transform-ation discourse, presenting modern Polish legal history as a circular journey from Europe to the dystopia of “Communism” and back. As aconsequence, links with the state-socialist past are repressed from thecollective consciousness of the legal community and presented as post-Soviet “weeds” in the Polish gardens of justice. However, the repressedweeds return in the form of symptoms – legal survivals, which lawyerstend to ignore or conceal because they subvert the dominant ideologicalnarrative. In this paper, I focus on metanormative survivals of the So-cialist Legal Tradition in Poland which can all be brought under theumbrella ...


Weeds In The Gardens Of Justice? The Survival Of Hyperpositivism In Polishlegal Culture As A Symptom/Sinthome (Forthcoming), Rafal Manko Jan 2013

Weeds In The Gardens Of Justice? The Survival Of Hyperpositivism In Polishlegal Culture As A Symptom/Sinthome (Forthcoming), Rafal Manko

Dr. Rafał Mańko

After 1989, the Polish legal elites embraced a transformation discourse, presenting modern Polish legal history as a circular journey from Europe to the dystopia of “Communism” and back. As a con­sequence, links with the state-­socialist past are repressed from the col­lective consciousness of the legal community and presented as post­-Soviet “weeds” in the Polish gardens of justice. However, the repressed weeds return in the form of symptoms – legal survivals, which lawyers tend to ignore or conceal because they subvert the dominant ideological narrative. In this paper, I focus on metanormative survivals of the So­cialist Legal ...


Legal Theory From The Regulative Point Of View, Alani Golanski Dec 2012

Legal Theory From The Regulative Point Of View, Alani Golanski

Alani Golanski

I argue that a concept of law that assigns primacy to the regulative role fulfilled by legal systems is best suited for explaining law’s discrete practice areas.  This regulative point of view facilitates the development of a concept of law capable of cohering with theories of discrete legal areas.  This posted paper revises the originally published Cumberland Law Review version.