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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

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 ...


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.


J. Skelly Wright And The Limits Of Liberalism, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2014

J. Skelly Wright And The Limits Of Liberalism, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This essay, written for a symposium on the life and work of United States Court of Appeals Judge J. Skelly Wright, makes four points. First, Judge Wright was an important participant in the liberal legal tradition. The tradition sought to liberate law from arid formalism and to use it as a technique for progressive reform. However, legal liberals also believed that there were limits on what judges could do–-limits rooted in both its liberalism and its legalism. Second, Wright occupied a position on the left fringe of the liberal legal tradition, and he therefore devoted much of his career ...


Interpretation And Construction In Altering Rules, Gregory Klass Oct 2012

Interpretation And Construction In Altering Rules, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This essay is a response to Ian Ayres's, "Regulating Opt-Out: An Economic Theory of Altering Rules," 121 Yale L.J. 2032 (2012). Ayres identifies an important question: How does the law decide when parties have opted-out of a contractual default? Unfortunately, his article tells only half of the story about such altering rules. Ayres cares about rules designed to instruct parties on how to get the terms that they want. By focusing on such rules he ignores altering rules designed instead to interpret the nonlegal meaning of the parties' acts or agreement. This limited vision is characteristic of economic ...


Chief Justices Marshall And Roberts And The Non-Self-Execution Of Treaties, Carlos Manuel Vázquez May 2012

Chief Justices Marshall And Roberts And The Non-Self-Execution Of Treaties, Carlos Manuel Vázquez

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This article is a response to David L. Sloss, Executing Foster v. Neilson: The Two-Step Approach to Analyzing Self-Executing Treaties, 53 Harv. Int'l L L.J. 135 (2012).

David Sloss’s article, Executing Foster v. Neilson, is an important contribution to the literature on the judicial enforcement of treaties. The author agrees with much of it, as he agrees with much of Professor Sloss’ other writing on treaties. In particular, the author agrees that the two-step approach to treaty enforcement that Professor Sloss proposes is generally the right approach, and he agrees that the “intent-based” approach to the self-execution ...


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 ...


Myth, Reality Past And Present, And Judicial Elections, Roy A. Schotland Jan 2002

Myth, Reality Past And Present, And Judicial Elections, Roy A. Schotland

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Why do we have judicial elections? A democracy without elections for the legislature and executive (or, in parliamentary systems, for the executive as the leadership of the elected legislators), would be simply inconceivable. But no one would deny that eleven of our states, or many other nations, are democracies even though they do not elect judges. It might follow from that irrefutable, fundamental difference between elections for judges and for other offices, that judicial elections should not-or more to the point, need not-be conducted the same as other elections. Before we soar into debate, let us lay a foundation with ...


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 ...


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 ...


Prospective Overruling And The Revival Of ‘Unconstitutional' Statutes, William Michael Treanor, Gene B. Sperling Jan 1993

Prospective Overruling And The Revival Of ‘Unconstitutional' Statutes, William Michael Treanor, Gene B. Sperling

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The Supreme Court's decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey reshaped the law of abortion in this country. The Court overturned two of its previous decisions invalidating state restrictions on abortions, Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, and it abandoned the trimester analytic framework established in Roe v. Wade. At the time Casey was handed down, twenty states had restrictive abortion statutes on the books that were in conflict with Akron or Thornburgh and which were unenforced. In six of these states, courts had held the statutes unconstitutional. Almost as ...