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Georgetown University Law Center

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Articles 121 - 130 of 130

Full-Text Articles in Legal History

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 ...


The Aspirational Constitution, Robin West Jan 1993

The Aspirational Constitution, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Firmly embedded in every theory of judicial decisionmaking lies an important set of assumptions about the way government is supposed to work. Sometimes these theories about government are made explicit. More often they are not. Moreover, deeply embedded in every theory of government is a theory of human nature. Although these assumptions about human nature generally remain latent within the larger theory, because they provide the underpinnings for our ideas about the way government is supposed to work, they drive our notions about judicial decisionmaking. For example, the theory of government reflected in the United States Constitution reveals what one ...


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 ...


The Authoritarian Impulse In Constitutional Law, Robin West Jan 1988

The Authoritarian Impulse In Constitutional Law, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Should there be greater participation by legislators and citizens in constitutional debate, theory, and decision-making? An increasing number of legal theorists from otherwise divergent perspectives have recently argued against what Paul Brest calls the "principle of judicial exclusivity" in our constitutional processes. These theorists contend that because issues of public morality in our culture either are, or tend to become, constitutional issues, all political actors, and most notably legislators and citizens, should consider the constitutional implications of the moral issues of the day. Because constitutional questions are essentially moral questions about how active and responsible citizens should constitute themselves, we ...


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 ...


Authority, Autonomy, And Choice: The Role Of Consent In The Moral And Political Visions Of Franz Kafka And Richard Posner, Robin West Jan 1985

Authority, Autonomy, And Choice: The Role Of Consent In The Moral And Political Visions Of Franz Kafka And Richard Posner, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In "The Ethical and Political Basis of Wealth Maximization" and two related articles, Professor (now Judge) Richard Posner argues that widely shared pro-autonomy moral values are furthered by wealth-maximizing market transfers, judicial decisions, and legal institutions advocated by members of the "law and economics" school of legal theory. Such transactions, decisions, and institutions are morally attractive, Posner argues, because they support autonomy; wealth-maximizing transfers are those to which all affected parties have given their consent. This Article argues that Posner's attempt to defend wealth-maximization on principles of consent rests on a simplistic and false psychological theory of human motivation ...


Jurisprudence As Narrative: An Aesthetic Analysis Of Modern Legal Theory, Robin West Jan 1985

Jurisprudence As Narrative: An Aesthetic Analysis Of Modern Legal Theory, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Recent legal scholarship has engaged in a growing dialogue tying literary criticism to jurisprudence. In this article, Professor Robin West adds her voice by advocating the reading of legal theory as a form of narrative. Drawing from Northrop Frye's “Anatomy of Criticism,” Professor West first details four literary myths that combine contrasting world visions and narrative methods. She then applies Frye's categories to Anglo-American jurisprudential traditions and employs aesthetic principles to analyze influential legal theorists within these traditions. Finally, Professor West argues that recognizing the aesthetic dimension of legal debate frees us to realize our moral ideals.