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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

The Marquis Beccaria: An Italian Penal Reformer’S Meteoric Rise In The British Isles In The Transatlantic Republic Of Letters, John Bessler Jan 2019

The Marquis Beccaria: An Italian Penal Reformer’S Meteoric Rise In The British Isles In The Transatlantic Republic Of Letters, John Bessler

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This article traces the reception of Cesare Beccaria’s book, Dei delitti e delle pene (1764), in Britain and in colonial and early America. That book, first translated into English as An Essay on Crimes and Punishments (1767), catalyzed penal reform and the anti-gallows movement on both sides of the Atlantic. As the first Enlightenment text to make a comprehensive case against capital punishment, On Crimes and Punishments became a bestseller, appearing in multiple English-language editions and attracting much public attention. Widely read by an array of British and American lawmakers and other civic-minded penal reformers, On Crimes and Punishments ...


A Century In The Making: The Glorious Revolution, The American Revolution, And The Origins Of The U.S. Constitution’S Eighth Amendment, John Bessler Jan 2019

A Century In The Making: The Glorious Revolution, The American Revolution, And The Origins Of The U.S. Constitution’S Eighth Amendment, John Bessler

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The sixteen words in the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment have their roots in England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688–89. This Article traces the historical events that initially gave rise to the prohibitions against excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishments. Those three proscriptions can be found in the English Declaration of Rights and in its statutory counterpart, the English Bill of Rights. In particular, the Article describes the legal cases and draconian punishments during the Stuart dynasty that led English and Scottish parliamentarians to insist on protections against cruelty and excessive governmental actions. In describing ...


The Italian Enlightenment And The American Revolution: Cesare Beccaria's Forgotten Influence On American Law, John Bessler Jan 2017

The Italian Enlightenment And The American Revolution: Cesare Beccaria's Forgotten Influence On American Law, John Bessler

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The influence of the Italian Enlightenment—the Illuminismo—on the American Revolution has long been neglected. While historians regularly acknowledge the influence of European thinkers such as William Blackstone, John Locke and Montesquieu, Cesare Beccaria’s contributions to the origins and development of American law have largely been forgotten by twenty-first century Americans. In fact, Beccaria’s book, Dei delitti e delle pene (1764), translated into English as On Crimes and Punishments (1767), significantly shaped the views of American revolutionaries and lawmakers. The first four U.S. Presidents—George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison—were inspired by ...


The Presumptions Of Classical Liberal Constitutionalism, Matthew J. Lindsay Jan 2017

The Presumptions Of Classical Liberal Constitutionalism, Matthew J. Lindsay

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Richard A. Epstein’s The Classical Liberal Constitution is an imposing addition to the burgeoning body of legal scholarship that seeks to “restore” a robust conception of economic liberty and limited government to its rightful place at the center of American constitutionalism. Legislators and judges operating within a “classical liberal conception of government,” Epstein explains, would approach skeptically “[a]ll [regulatory] proposals that deviate from the basic common law protections of life, liberty, and property.” Classical liberal constitutional courts would thus renounce the toothless rational basis review of the post-New Deal “progressive mindset,” and instead subject to exacting scrutiny the ...


The "Rabbi's Daughter" And The "Jewish Jane Addams": Jewish Women, Legal Aid, And The Fluidity Of Identity, 1890-1930, Felice Batlan Jan 2016

The "Rabbi's Daughter" And The "Jewish Jane Addams": Jewish Women, Legal Aid, And The Fluidity Of Identity, 1890-1930, Felice Batlan

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No abstract provided.


Book Review (Reviewing Louis Fisher's Congress: Protecting Individual Rights), Adeen Postar Jan 2016

Book Review (Reviewing Louis Fisher's Congress: Protecting Individual Rights), Adeen Postar

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Fisher is currently the Scholar in Residence at the Constitution Project, and is well known for his many years as Senior Specialist on Separation of Powers at the Congressional Research Service and as Specialist in Constitutional Law at the Law Library of Congress. He has extensive experience testifying before Congress on topics that include Congress and the constitution, war powers, executive power and privilege, and several aspects of the federal budget and its processes. He has written numerous books on these topics, including (to name only a few) The President and Congress: Power and Policy (1972); Defending Congress and the ...


Niccolò Machiavelli: Father Of Modern Constitutionalism, Mortimer N.S. Sellers Jun 2015

Niccolò Machiavelli: Father Of Modern Constitutionalism, Mortimer N.S. Sellers

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Niccolò Machiavelli is the father of modern constitutionalism. Constitutionalism began anew in the modern world with the study of the ancient republics and it was Machiavelli who inaugurated this revived science of politics. Five hundred years after the composition of Il Principe and the Discorsi we are still working out the implications of applying reason to the structures of law and government in pursuit of justice and the common good. Modern constitutionalism and ancient republicanism share three central beliefs: first, that government should serve justice and the common good; second, that government should do so through known and stable laws ...


A Government Of Laws Not Of Precedents 1776-1876: The Google Challenge To Common Law Myth, James Maxeiner Apr 2015

A Government Of Laws Not Of Precedents 1776-1876: The Google Challenge To Common Law Myth, James Maxeiner

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The United States, it is said, is a common law country. The genius of American common law, according to American jurists, is its flexibility in adapting to change and in developing new causes of action. Courts make law even as they apply it. This permits them better to do justice and effectuate public policy in individual cases, say American jurists.

Not all Americans are convinced of the virtues of this American common law method. Many in the public protest, we want judges that apply and do not make law. American jurists discount these protests as criticisms of naive laymen. They ...


The Original Meaning Of "God": Using The Language Of The Framing Generation To Create A Coherent Establishment Clause Jurisprudence, Michael I. Meyerson Apr 2015

The Original Meaning Of "God": Using The Language Of The Framing Generation To Create A Coherent Establishment Clause Jurisprudence, Michael I. Meyerson

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The Supreme Court’s attempt to create a standard for evaluating whether the Establishment Clause is violated by religious governmental speech, such as the public display of the Ten Commandments or the Pledge of Allegiance, is a total failure. The Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence has been termed “convoluted,” “a muddled mess,” and “a polite lie.” Unwilling to either allow all governmental religious speech or ban it entirely, the Court is in need of a coherent standard for distinguishing the permissible from the unconstitutional. Thus far, no Justice has offered such a standard.

A careful reading of the history of ...


Women And Justice For The Poor: A History Of Legal Aid, 1863–1945, Felice J. Batlan Jan 2015

Women And Justice For The Poor: A History Of Legal Aid, 1863–1945, Felice J. Batlan

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No abstract provided.


The Role Of Political And Social Movements On Women’S Entry Into The Legal Profession In Maryland (1902-1918), Jane C. Murphy Jan 2015

The Role Of Political And Social Movements On Women’S Entry Into The Legal Profession In Maryland (1902-1918), Jane C. Murphy

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The rise of women in the legal profession in Maryland was shaped by a wide range of factors, including national, state, and local political and social movements. As one scholar has noted, "[W] omen's lives are complex and .. . region, period, personality, and circumstance crucially influence what a subject is able to make of herself."' In this chapter, I explore how those circumstances-- personal and political-influenced the first group of eight women admitted to the Maryland Bar between 1902 and 1920. These women-Etta Maddox, Anna Grace Kennedy, Emilie Doetsch, Marie Elizabeth Kirk Coles, Mary Virginia Meushaw, Helen F. Hill, Emily ...


The Federal Rules At 75: Dispute Resolution, Private Enforcement Or Decision According To Law?, James Maxeiner Jul 2014

The Federal Rules At 75: Dispute Resolution, Private Enforcement Or Decision According To Law?, James Maxeiner

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This essay is a critical response to the 2013 commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were introduced in 1938 to provide procedure to decide cases on their merits. The Rules were designed to replace decisions under the “sporting theory of justice” with decisions according to law. By 1976, at midlife, it was clear that they were not achieving their goal. America’s proceduralists split into two sides about what to do.

One side promotes rules that control and conclude litigation: e.g., plausibility pleading, case management, limited discovery ...


The Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Divide, Christopher W. Schmidt Apr 2014

The Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Divide, Christopher W. Schmidt

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Contemporary legal discourse differentiates “civil rights” from “civil liberties.” The former are generally understood as protections against discriminatory treatment, the latter as freedom from oppressive government authority. This Essay explains how this differentiation arose and considers its consequences.

Although there is a certain inherent logic to the civil rights-civil liberties divide, it in fact is the product of the unique circumstances of a particular moment in history. In the early years of the Cold War, liberal anticommunists sought to distinguish their incipient interest in the cause of racial equality from their belief that national security required limitations on the speech ...


Legal History And The Politics Of Inclusion, Felice J. Batlan Jan 2014

Legal History And The Politics Of Inclusion, Felice J. Batlan

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No abstract provided.


Fifty Years Before Brady, Colin Starger May 2013

Fifty Years Before Brady, Colin Starger

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In marking the fiftieth anniversary of Brady v. Maryland, a fitting way to appreciate the historic significance of Justice Douglas’ opinion for the Court is to turn back the pages another fifty years. Brady’s profound contribution to our criminal justice system becomes apparent by considering the impoverished state of the Supreme Court’s due process doctrine as it stood a century ago. In the fifty years that led up to Brady, the Court confronted a series of racially and politically charged cases that forced constitutional soul searching about due process in the face of rank injustice. The story of ...


Section 1983 Is Born: The Interlocking Supreme Court Stories Of Tenney And Monroe, Sheldon Nahmod Jan 2013

Section 1983 Is Born: The Interlocking Supreme Court Stories Of Tenney And Monroe, Sheldon Nahmod

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No abstract provided.


Shareholder Derivative Litigation’S Historical And Normative Foundations, Ann M. Scarlett Jan 2013

Shareholder Derivative Litigation’S Historical And Normative Foundations, Ann M. Scarlett

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Scholars and judges often say that the United States imported the shareholder derivative action from England, but that is not entirely accurate. What the United States imported from the English Court of Chancery was the necessary parties rule and its exceptions. During the 1800s, U.S. courts recognized an exception to the necessary parties rule that permitted representative lawsuits, but the contours of these actions differed from such actions in England. Today, these lawsuits would be classified as class actions and shareholder derivative actions in the United States. The shared history of these two forms of representative litigation has long ...


The Anomaly Of Executions: The Cruel And Unusual Punishments Clause In The 21st Century, John Bessler Jan 2013

The Anomaly Of Executions: The Cruel And Unusual Punishments Clause In The 21st Century, John Bessler

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This Article describes the anomaly of executions in the context of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence. While the Supreme Court routinely reads the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause to protect prisoners from harm, the Court simultaneously interprets the Eighth Amendment to allow inmates to be executed. Corporal punishments short of death have long been abandoned in America’s penal system, yet executions — at least in a few locales, heavily concentrated in the South — persist. This Article, which seeks a principled and much more consistent interpretation of the Eighth Amendment, argues that executions should be declared unconstitutional ...


The Dialectic Of Stare Decisis Doctrine, Colin Starger Jan 2013

The Dialectic Of Stare Decisis Doctrine, Colin Starger

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In the United States Supreme Court, the concept of stare decisis operates as both metadoctrine and doctrine. On the one hand, stare decisis functions as a generally applicable presumption in favor of adherence to precedent. This presumption is metadoctrinal because it provides a generic argument against overruling that applies independently of the substantive context of any given case. On the other hand, when the Court considers overruling a particularly controversial precedent, it usually weighs the constraining force of stare decisis by invoking factors and tests announced in its own prior caselaw. In other words, the Court has precedent about when ...


Tinkering Around The Edges: The Supreme Court's Death Penalty Jurisprudence, John Bessler Oct 2012

Tinkering Around The Edges: The Supreme Court's Death Penalty Jurisprudence, John Bessler

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This Essay examines America's death penalty forty years after Furman and provides a critique of the Supreme Court's existing Eighth Amendment case law. Part I briefly summarizes how the Court, to date, has approached death sentences, while Part II highlights the incongruous manner in which the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause has been read. For instance, Justice Antonin Scalia-one of the Court's most vocal proponents of "originalism" conceded that corporal punishments such as handbranding and public flogging are no longer constitutionally permissible; yet, he (and the Court itself) continues to allow death sentences to be imposed. The ...


Social Movements, Legal Change, And The Challenges Of Writing Legal History (Book Review), Christopher W. Schmidt Jan 2012

Social Movements, Legal Change, And The Challenges Of Writing Legal History (Book Review), Christopher W. Schmidt

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This Essay identifies the key contributions that Tomiko-Brown Nagin’s Courage to Dissent makes to the legal history of the civil rights movement. It situates the book among several other prominent legal histories of the civil rights era and offers thoughts on the challenge of creating historical accounts that illuminate the complex intersections of legal change and social activism. The Essay argues that Courage to Dissent is among the most thorough and ambitious efforts to confront this challenge in the literature today.


Women's Legal History Symposium Introduction: Making History, Felice J. Batlan Jan 2012

Women's Legal History Symposium Introduction: Making History, Felice J. Batlan

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This essay introduces the Chicago-Kent Symposium on Women's Legal History: A Global Perspective. It seeks to situate the field of women's legal history and to explore what it means to begin writing a transnational women's history which transcends and at times disrupts the nation state. In doing so, it sets forth some of the fundamental premises of women's legal history and points to new ways of writing such histories.


American Legal History Survey: Syllabus, Anders Walker Jan 2012

American Legal History Survey: Syllabus, Anders Walker

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This syllabus provides an overview of American Legal History, focusing on the manner in which law has been used to organize American society. Several themes will be traced through the semester, including law’s role in encouraging innovation and regulating social relations, in part through the elaboration of legal disciplines like property, tort, contract, criminal law, tax, business associations, administrative law, environmental law, securities regulation, commercial law, immigration, and health law. Emphasis will also be placed on the origins and evolution of constitutional law, from the founding to the present.


Review Of A Final Accounting, Holocaust Survivors And Swiss Banks, Adeen Postar Apr 2011

Review Of A Final Accounting, Holocaust Survivors And Swiss Banks, Adeen Postar

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No abstract provided.


The Tea Party And The Constitution, Christopher W. Schmidt Mar 2011

The Tea Party And The Constitution, Christopher W. Schmidt

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This Article considers the Tea Party as a constitutional movement. I explore the Tea Party’s ambitious effort to transform the role of the Constitution in American life, examining both the substance of the Tea Party’s constitutional claims and the tactics movement leaders have embraced for advancing these claims. No major social movement in modern American history has so explicitly tied its reform agenda to the Constitution. From the time when the Tea Party burst onto the American political scene in early 2009, its supporters claimed in no uncertain terms that much recent federal government action overstepped constitutionally defined ...


Presidential Memories: Lincoln's Relationship With The Jews - Remembered On President's Day, Kenneth Lasson Feb 2011

Presidential Memories: Lincoln's Relationship With The Jews - Remembered On President's Day, Kenneth Lasson

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This article examines the relationship President Abraham Lincoln had with members of the Jewish faith.

Ever since George Washington, U.S. presidents have made inclusive gestures toward Jewish-American citizens and soldiers, but only Abraham Lincoln, whose 291st birthday we celebrated last week, ever officially intervened on their behalf. He did it twice within the span of two years. During his political career Lincoln had many Jewish associates, advisers and supporters.

During the Civil War General Grant issued General Order No. 11, which is also discussed. This order was a result of Grant’s perception that Jews were participating in a ...


The Gendered Lives Of Legal Aid: Lay Lawyers, Social Workers, And The Bar, 1863-1960, Felice J. Batlan Jan 2011

The Gendered Lives Of Legal Aid: Lay Lawyers, Social Workers, And The Bar, 1863-1960, Felice J. Batlan

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The Gendered Life of Legal Aid, 1863-1960 (manuscript in process) will be the first monograph on the history of civil legal aid in the United States. By closely examining the history of legal aid in New York, Chicago, and Boston, it presents a number of arguments with wide-ranging implications and it is animated by a host of conflicts. These include the relationship between legal aid and citizenship, the changing status of domestic relations law, the interactions between lawyers and social workers and their different understandings of the role and nature of law, what services legal aid should provide, and even ...


Book Review (Reviewing Leonard Orland's A Final Accounting), Adeen Postar Jan 2011

Book Review (Reviewing Leonard Orland's A Final Accounting), Adeen Postar

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Leonard Orland is the Oliver Ellsworth Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut. He has written a fine, if a bit unwieldy, book that traces the sad history of money and other assets deposited in supposedly sacrosanct Swiss banks by European Jews during the Nazi era to its long overdue resolution by the American justice system. The book provides background and perspective on how and why the $12.1 billion in pre-war dollars (about $250 trillion today) of financial assets of Holocaust victims disappeared into thin air in the years following World War II. These assets were given over ...


Florence Kelley And The Battle Against Laissez-Faire Constitutionalism, Felice J. Batlan Jan 2010

Florence Kelley And The Battle Against Laissez-Faire Constitutionalism, Felice J. Batlan

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The usual story of the demise of laissez-faire constitutionalism in the 1930’s features heroes such as Louis Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter and the great male legal progressives of the day who rose up from academia, the bench, and the bar, to put an end to what historians label "legal orthodoxy." In this essay, I seek to demonstrate that Florence Kelley was a crucially important legal progressive who was at the front lines of drafting and defending new legislation that courts were striking down as violating the Fourteenth Amendment and State constitutions. Looking at who was drafting and lobbying for path ...


The Birth Of Legal Aid: Gender Ideologies, Women, And The Bar In New York City, 1863-1910, Felice J. Batlan Jan 2010

The Birth Of Legal Aid: Gender Ideologies, Women, And The Bar In New York City, 1863-1910, Felice J. Batlan

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No abstract provided.