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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

The Shallow State: The Federal Communications Commission And The New Deal, Daniel R. Ernst May 2019

The Shallow State: The Federal Communications Commission And The New Deal, Daniel R. Ernst

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

American lawyers and law professors commonly turn to the New Deal for insights into the law and politics of today’s administrative state. Usually, they have looked to agencies created in the 1930s that became the foundation of the postwar political order. Some have celebrated these agencies; others have deplored them as the core of an elitist, antidemocratic Deep State. This article takes a different tack by studying the Federal Communications Commission, an agency created before the New Deal. For most of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first two presidential terms, the FCC languished within the “Shallow State,” bossed about by ...


Mr. Try-It Goes To Washington: Law And Policy At The Agricultural Adjustment Administration, Daniel R. Ernst Apr 2019

Mr. Try-It Goes To Washington: Law And Policy At The Agricultural Adjustment Administration, Daniel R. Ernst

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In December 1933, Jerome Frank, the general counsel of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration but better for writing Law and the Modern Mind (1930), a sensational attack on legal formalism, told an audience at the Association of American Law Schools a parable about two lawyers in the New Deal, each forced to interpret same, ambiguous statutory language. The first lawyer, “Mr. Absolute,” reasoned from the text and canons of statutory interpretation without regard for the desirability of the outcome. “Mr. Try-It,” in contrast, began with the outcome he thought desirable. He then said to himself, “The administration is for it, and ...


On Being Old Codgers: A Conversation About A Half Century In Legal Education, Mark Tushnet, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2019

On Being Old Codgers: A Conversation About A Half Century In Legal Education, Mark Tushnet, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This conversation, conducted over three evenings, captures some of our thoughts about the last half century of legal education as both of us near retirement. We have edited the conversations so as to eliminate verbal stumbles and present our ideas more coherently, slightly reorganized a small part of the conversation, and added a few explanatory footnotes. However, we have attempted to keep the informal tone of our discussions.


Why Bernie Is Confused: Populist And Progressive Strands In Liberal Constitutionalism, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2019

Why Bernie Is Confused: Populist And Progressive Strands In Liberal Constitutionalism, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Many modern liberals believe that the federal government is captured by a “billionaire party” determined to wield public power for private gain. But many of them also believe in giving the federal government greatly enhanced powers, like administering “Medicare for all.”

There is a history to this contradiction. Modern liberalism is an amalgam of older populist and progressive impulses with deep roots in the country’s past. The populist impulse locates the source of economic oppression in government corruption. The solution to this problem is direct, popular democracy. Progressives tend to locate the source of economic oppression in the malfunction ...


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.


Framer’S Intent: Gouverneur Morris, The Committee Of Style, And The Creation Of The Federalist Constitution, William M. Treanor Jan 2019

Framer’S Intent: Gouverneur Morris, The Committee Of Style, And The Creation Of The Federalist Constitution, William M. Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

At the end of the proceedings of the federal constitutional convention, the delegates appointed the Committee on Style and Arrangement to bring together the textual provisions that the convention had previously agreed to and to prepare a final constitution. Pennsylvania delegate Gouverneur Morris was assigned to draft the document for the committee, and, with few revisions and little debate, the convention subsequently adopted the Committee’s proposed constitution. For more than two hundred years, questions have been raised as to whether Morris as drafter covertly made changes in the text in order to advance his constitutional vision, but the legal ...


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 ...


The Law (?) Of The Lincoln Assassination, Martin S. Lederman Mar 2018

The Law (?) Of The Lincoln Assassination, Martin S. Lederman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Shortly after John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, President Andrew Johnson directed that Booth’s alleged coconspirators be tried in a makeshift military tribunal, rather than in the Article III court that was open for business just a few blocks from Ford’s Theater. Johnson’s decision implicated a fundamental constitutional question that was a subject of heated debate throughout the Civil War: When, if ever, may the federal government circumvent Article III’s requirements of a criminal trial by jury, with an independent, tenure-protected presiding judge, by trying individuals other than members of the armed ...


Adolf Berle During The New Deal: The Brain Truster As An Intellectual Jobber, Robert Thompson Jan 2018

Adolf Berle During The New Deal: The Brain Truster As An Intellectual Jobber, Robert Thompson

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Thirty-seven year old law professor Adolf Berle had a career year in 1932. His book published that year, The Modern Corporation and Private Property (written with Gardiner Means), framed the fundamental twentieth century change in understanding modern corporations. Berle’s exchange with Merrick Dodd on the purpose of the corporation that played out that spring on the pages of the Harvard Law Review launched a still fierce debate over the role of shareholders and other stakeholders. His service as a brain truster for Franklin Roosevelt during the fall election gave voice to the transformative economic policies of the New Deal ...


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 ...


Of Spies, Saboteurs, And Enemy Accomplices: History’S Lessons For The Constitutionality Of Wartime Military Tribunals, Martin S. Lederman Mar 2017

Of Spies, Saboteurs, And Enemy Accomplices: History’S Lessons For The Constitutionality Of Wartime Military Tribunals, Martin S. Lederman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Congress has recently authorized military commissions to try enemies not only for violations of the international law of war, but also for domestic-law offenses, such as providing material support to terrorism and conspiring to commit law-of-war offenses. Moreover, President Trump has indicated support for further military trials, including trials against U.S. citizens. Such military tribunals lack the civilian jury and independent judge that Article III of the Constitution prescribes. The constitutionality of such an abrogation of Article III’s criminal trial guarantees has been debated during many of the nation’s wars without clear resolution, and the constitutional question ...


The Genius Of Hamilton And The Birth Of The Modern Theory Of The Judiciary, William M. Treanor Jan 2017

The Genius Of Hamilton And The Birth Of The Modern Theory Of The Judiciary, William M. Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In late May 1788, with the essays of the Federalist on the Congress (Article I) and the Executive (Article II) completed, Alexander Hamilton turned, finally, to Article III and the judiciary. The Federalist’s essays 78 to 83 – the essays on the judiciary - had limited effect on ratification. No newspaper outside New York reprinted them, and they appeared very late in the ratification process – after eight states had ratified. But, if these essays had little immediate impact – essentially limited to the ratification debates in New York and, perhaps, Virginia – they were a stunning intellectual achievement. Modern scholars have made Madison ...


Habeas As Forum Allocation: A New Synthesis, Carlos Manuel Vázquez Jun 2016

Habeas As Forum Allocation: A New Synthesis, Carlos Manuel Vázquez

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The scope of habeas relief for state prisoners, especially during the decades before the Supreme Court’s 1953 decision in Brown v. Allen, is a famously disputed question – one of recognized significance for contemporary debates about the proper scope of habeas review. This Essay provides a new answer. It argues that, until the enactment of AEDPA in 1996, state prisoners were always entitled to de novo review of the legal and mixed law/fact questions decided against them by the state courts. Until 1916, such review was provided by the Supreme Court; after 1953, such review was provided by the ...


Conceptualizing Student Practice For The 21st Century: Educational And Ethical Considerations In Modernizing The District Of Columbia Student Practice Rules, Wallace J. Mlyniec, Haley D. Etchison Jan 2015

Conceptualizing Student Practice For The 21st Century: Educational And Ethical Considerations In Modernizing The District Of Columbia Student Practice Rules, Wallace J. Mlyniec, Haley D. Etchison

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This article traces the history of the amendment process. It provides a short history of student practice rules and then, using the student practice rule in effect in the District of Columbia prior to the 2014 amendments, describes the various components of those rules that courts and bars across the nation have implemented to assist courts, advance legal education, and preserve advocates’ ethical obligations to clients. It then describes some of the comments to the proposed amendments offered by the District of Columbia Bar and other D.C. lawyers during the public comment period and the modifications to the District ...


Of Sheepdogs And Ventriloquists: Government Lawyers In Two New Deal Agencies, Daniel R. Ernst Jan 2015

Of Sheepdogs And Ventriloquists: Government Lawyers In Two New Deal Agencies, Daniel R. Ernst

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

From the neo-Weberian literature on state-building and the political sociology of the legal profession, one might expect government lawyers to be sheepdogs, nipping at the heels of straying administrators, supplying their agencies with the bureaucratic autonomy so often missing in American government. In this working paper, prepared for “Opportunities for Law's Intellectual History," a conference sponsored by Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy at the State University of New York at Buffalo, October 10-11, 2014, I report my preliminary findings for two agencies created during the Hundred Days of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration ...


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 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 ...


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 ...


Representation In Context: Party Power And Lawyer Expertise, Colleen F. Shanahan, Anna E. Carpenter, Alyx Mark Aug 2014

Representation In Context: Party Power And Lawyer Expertise, Colleen F. Shanahan, Anna E. Carpenter, Alyx Mark

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The questions when, why, and how legal representation makes a difference for parties in civil litigation remain largely unanswered, although recent scholarship raises compelling new questions and suggests new explanations and theoretical approaches. Understanding how legal representation operates, we argue, requires an appreciation for the context in which the representation actually takes place. This article examines two previously unexplored elements of the context of legal representation through empirical and theoretical analysis: the balance of power between the parties to a dispute and the professional, specifically strategic, expertise that a legal representative contributes. The results of a study of 1,700 ...


The Difference Prevention Makes: Regulating Preventive Justice, David Cole Mar 2014

The Difference Prevention Makes: Regulating Preventive Justice, David Cole

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States and many other countries have adopted a ‘‘paradigm of prevention,’’ employing a range of measures in an attempt to prevent future terrorist attacks. This includes the use of pre textual charges for preventive detention, the expansion of criminal liability to prohibit conduct that precedes terrorism, and expansion of surveillance at home and abroad. Politicians and government officials often speak of prevention as if it is an unqualified good. Everyone wants to prevent the next terrorist attack, after all. And many preventive initiatives, especially where they are not coercive and ...


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.


Overrides: The Super-Study, Victoria Nourse Jan 2014

Overrides: The Super-Study, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Overrides should be of interest to a far larger group of scholars than statutory interpretation enthusiasts. We have, in overrides, open inter branch encounters between Congress and the Courts far more typically found in the shadows of everyday Washington politics. Interestingly, Christiansen and Eskridge posit the court-congress relationship as more triadic than dyadic given the role played by agencies. One of their more interesting conclusions is that agencie are the big winners in the override game: agencies were present in seventy percent of the override cases and the agency view prevailed with Congress and against the Supreme Court in three-quarters ...


Elementary Statutory Interpretation: Rethinking Legislative Intent And History, Victoria Nourse Jan 2014

Elementary Statutory Interpretation: Rethinking Legislative Intent And History, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This article argues that theorists and practitioners of statutory interpretation should rethink two very basic concepts—legislative intent and legislative history. Textualists urge that to look to legislative history is to seek an intent that does not exist. This article argues we should put this objection to bed because, even if groups do not have minds, they have the functional equivalent of intent: they plan by using internal sequential procedures allowing them to project their collective actions forward in time. What we should mean by legislative “intent” is legislative “context.” For a group, context includes how groups act—their procedures ...


The Constitution And Legislative History, Victoria Nourse Jan 2014

The Constitution And Legislative History, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this article, the author provides an extended analysis of the constitutional claims against legislative history, arguing that, under textualists’ own preference for constitutional text, the use of legislative history should be constitutional to the extent it is supported by Congress’s rulemaking power, a constitutionally enumerated power.

This article has five parts. In part I, the author explains the importance of this question, considering the vast range of cases to which this claim of unconstitutionality could possibly apply—after all, statutory interpretation cases are the vast bulk of the work of the federal courts. She also explains why these ...


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 Rise And Fall Of Unconscionability As The 'Law Of The Poor', Anne Fleming Jan 2014

The Rise And Fall Of Unconscionability As The 'Law Of The Poor', Anne Fleming

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

What happened to unconscionability? Here’s one version of the story: The doctrine of unconscionability experienced a brief resurgence in the mid-1960s at the hands of naive, left-liberal, activist judges, who used it to rewrite private consumer contracts according to their own sense of justice. These folks meant well, no doubt, much like present-day consumer protection crusaders who seek to ensure the “fairness” of financial products and services. But courts’ refusal to enforce terms they deemed "unconscionable” served only to increase the cost of doing business with low-income households. Judges ended up hurting the very people they were trying to ...


Toward An Ethics Of Being Lobbied: Affirmative Obligations To Listen, Heidi Li Feldman Jan 2014

Toward An Ethics Of Being Lobbied: Affirmative Obligations To Listen, Heidi Li Feldman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Lobbying in the U.S. today grows out of a historical legal and, eventually, Constitutional right to petition the government for redress of grievances. English kings, the English Parliament, and American colonial legislatures had incentives for not only recognizing the right but treating it fulsomely, as a means for communicating extensively with the widest possible range of those over whom kings, Parliament, and legislatures had or sought to have power. Because of drastic changes in circumstance, today's officials do not have this incentive. Financial and structural forces tend to narrow the range of people legislators and elected executives hear ...


Uncovering The Reformation Roots Of American Marriage And Divorce Law, Judith C. Areen Jan 2014

Uncovering The Reformation Roots Of American Marriage And Divorce Law, Judith C. Areen

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In 1639, Massachusetts Bay colonists pressed Governor John Winthrop to adopt a “body of laws” that would restrict the considerable power that “rested in the discretion of magistrates.” Having survived both the transatlantic voyage and the rigors of the new world in their quest to establish a religious utopia away from the demands of church and state in England, the colonists were understandably loath to give their local officials unchecked power. Winthrop offered several reasons why the leaders of the colony opposed the request: the colonists did not yet have enough experience to develop laws appropriate for their new circumstances ...


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 ...