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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

Colonialism And Constitutional Memory, Aziz Rana Jun 2015

Colonialism And Constitutional Memory, Aziz Rana

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The United States shares a number of basic traits with various British settler societies in the nonwhite world. These include longstanding histories in which colonists and their descendants divided legal, political, and economic rights between insiders and subordinated outsiders, be they expropriated indigenous groups or racial minorities. But Americans rarely think of themselves as part of an imperial family of settler polities and instead generally conceive of the country as quintessentially anti-imperial and inclusive. What explains this fact and what are its political consequences?

This Article offers an initial response, arguing that a significant reason is the symbolic power of ...


Constitutionalism And The Foundations Of The Security State, Aziz Rana Apr 2015

Constitutionalism And The Foundations Of The Security State, Aziz Rana

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Scholars often argue that the culture of American constitutionalism provides an important constraint on aggressive national security practices. This Article challenges the conventional account by highlighting instead how modern constitutional reverence emerged in tandem with the national security state, critically functioning to reinforce and legitimize government power rather than primarily to place limits on it. This unacknowledged security origin of today’s constitutional climate speaks to a profound ambiguity in the type of public culture ultimately promoted by the Constitution. Scholars are clearly right to note that constitutional loyalty has created political space for arguments more respectful of civil rights ...


'In The Time Of A Woman, Which Sex Was Not Capable Of Mature Deliberation': Late Tudor Parliamentary Relations And Their Early Stuart Discontents, Josh Chafetz Jul 2013

'In The Time Of A Woman, Which Sex Was Not Capable Of Mature Deliberation': Late Tudor Parliamentary Relations And Their Early Stuart Discontents, Josh Chafetz

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The English Civil War is one of the seminal events in Anglo-American constitutional history. Oceans of ink have been spilled in debating its causes, and historians have pointed to a number of salient divisions along economic, social, political, and religious lines. But a related, and equally important, question has gone largely ignored: what allowed the House of Commons, for the first time in English history, to play the lead role in opposing the Crown? How did the lower house of Parliament develop the constitutional self-confidence that would allow it to organize the rebellion against Charles I?

This Article argues that ...


Law And The Creation Of Meaning: A Brief Reflection On The Work Of Jane Larson, Gerald Torres Jul 2013

Law And The Creation Of Meaning: A Brief Reflection On The Work Of Jane Larson, Gerald Torres

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Why 'Nonexistent People' Do Not Have Zero Well-Being But No Well-Being At All, Ori J. Herstein Mar 2013

Why 'Nonexistent People' Do Not Have Zero Well-Being But No Well-Being At All, Ori J. Herstein

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Some believe that the harm or benefit of existence is assessed by comparing a person’s actual state of well-being with the level of well-being they would have had had they never existed. This approach relies on ascribing a state or level of well-being to “nonexistent people,” which seems a peculiar practice: how can we attribute well-being to a “nonexistent person”? To explain away this oddity, some have argued that because no properties of well-being can be attributed to “nonexistent people” such people may be ascribed a neutral or zero level of well-being, setting the baseline for comparatively assessing the ...


Spandrel Or Frankenstein's Monster? The Vices And Virtues Of Retrofitting In American Law, Michael C. Dorf Nov 2012

Spandrel Or Frankenstein's Monster? The Vices And Virtues Of Retrofitting In American Law, Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Ancient mythology, literary fiction, and modern science fiction films all recount a similar cautionary tale: human ingenuity gives rise to a powerful invention, but through human fallibility and, in some tellings, venality, the invention becomes a monster and turns on its creators. Perhaps the most famous example is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, in which Dr. Frankenstein's attempt to fashion a living man from the dead remains of others succeeds, only then to go horribly awry. Such stories are timeless because they warn of the dangers of indelible features of human nature: hubris and short-sightedness. Recent large-scale catastrophes such as ...


Who Decides On Security?, Aziz Rana Jul 2012

Who Decides On Security?, Aziz Rana

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Despite over six decades of reform initiatives, the overwhelming drift of security arrangements in the United States has been toward greater—not less— executive centralization and discretion. This Article explores why efforts to curb presidential prerogative have failed so consistently. It argues that while constitutional scholars have overwhelmingly focused their attention on procedural solutions, the underlying reason for the growth of emergency powers is ultimately political rather than purely legal. In particular, scholars have ignored how the basic meaning of "security" has itself shifted dramatically since World War II and the beginning of the Cold War in line with changing ...


Defending The Right To Do Wrong, Ori J. Herstein Jan 2012

Defending The Right To Do Wrong, Ori J. Herstein

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Are there moral rights to do moral wrong? A right to do wrong is a right that others not interfere with the right-holder's wrongdoing. It is a right against enforcement of duty, that is a right that others not interfere with one's violation of one's own obligations. The strongest reason for moral rights to do moral wrong is grounded in the value of personal autonomy. Having a measure of protected choice (that is a right) to do wrong is a condition for an autonomous life and for autonomous moral self-constitution. This view has its critics. Responding to ...


Pluralism And Property, Gregory S. Alexander Dec 2011

Pluralism And Property, Gregory S. Alexander

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Welfarism is no longer the only game in the town of property theory. In the last several years a number of property scholars have begun developing various versions of a general vision of property and ownership that, although consistent with welfarism in some respects, purports to provide an alternative to the still-dominant welfarist account. This alternative proceeds under different labels, including “virtue theory” and “progressive,” but for convenience purposes let us call them collectively “social obligation” theories. For what they have in common is a desire to correct the common but mistaken notion that ownership is solely about rights. These ...


The Two Faces Of American Freedom: A Reply, Aziz Rana Oct 2011

The Two Faces Of American Freedom: A Reply, Aziz Rana

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Settlers And Immigrants In The Formation Of American Law, Aziz Rana Aug 2011

Settlers And Immigrants In The Formation Of American Law, Aziz Rana

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This paper argues that the early American republic is best understood as a constitutional experiment in “settler empire,” and that related migration policies played a central role in shaping collective identity and structures of authority. Initial colonists, along with their 19th century descendants, viewed society as grounded in an ideal of freedom that emphasized continuous popular mobilization and direct economic and political decision-making. However, many settlers believed that this ideal required Indian dispossession and the coercive use of dependent groups, most prominently slaves, in order to ensure that they themselves had access to property and did not have to engage ...


Explanation In Legal Scholarship: The Inferential Structure Of Doctrinal Analysis, W. Bradley Wendel May 2011

Explanation In Legal Scholarship: The Inferential Structure Of Doctrinal Analysis, W. Bradley Wendel

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This paper aims to understand the logic that underlies a familiar type of legal scholarship, in which the author purports to explain or render intelligible some legal doctrine or area of law in terms of an end or rationale. Loosely speaking, the argument is that some doctrine is "all about" some end. This form of argument is familiar but undertheorized, so this paper draws from the philosophy of science, particularly the notion of inference to the best explanation (IBE), to clarify the underlying rhetorical strategy of doctrinal legal scholarship. One way of making IBE arguments with reference to legal doctrine ...


The Origins, Nature, And Promise Of Empirical Legal Studies And A Response To Concerns, Theodore Eisenberg Jan 2011

The Origins, Nature, And Promise Of Empirical Legal Studies And A Response To Concerns, Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This Article describes the origins of three movements in legal academia: empirical legal studies (ELS), law and society, and law and economics. It then quantifies the distribution across scholarly fields (for example, economics and psychology) of authors in these movements’ journals and reports the impact of the movements’ scholarly journals. By focusing on two leading law and economics journals, this Article also explores the effect of a journal being centered in law schools rather than in a social science discipline. It suggests that ELS has achieved rapid growth and impact within the academic legal community because of (1) its association ...


"Our Cities Institutions" And The Institution Of The Common Law, Bernadette Meyler Jul 2010

"Our Cities Institutions" And The Institution Of The Common Law, Bernadette Meyler

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The audiences of early modern English drama were multiple, and they intersected with the legal system in various ways, whether through the cross-pollination of the theaters and the Inns of Court, the representations of the sovereign’s justice performed before him, or the shared evidentiary orientations of jurors and spectators. As this piece written for a symposium on “Reasoning from Literature” contends, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure addressed to these various audiences the question of whether the King should judge in person. In doing so, it drew on extant political theories suggesting that the King refrain from exposing himself to ...


Hope In The Law, Annelise Riles Oct 2009

Hope In The Law, Annelise Riles

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Judicial Independence In Excess: Reviving The Judicial Duty Of The Supreme Court, Paul D. Carrington, Roger C. Cramton Mar 2009

Judicial Independence In Excess: Reviving The Judicial Duty Of The Supreme Court, Paul D. Carrington, Roger C. Cramton

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Independence from extrinsic influence is, we know, indispensable to public trust in the integrity of professional judges who share the duty to decide cases according to preexisting law. But such independence is less appropriate for those expected to make new law to govern future events. Indeed, in a democratic government those who make new law are expected to be accountable to their constituents, not independent of their interests and unresponsive to their desires. The Supreme Court of the United States has in the last century largely forsaken responsibility for the homely task of deciding cases in accord with preexisting law ...


Legal Taxonomy, Emily Sherwin Jan 2009

Legal Taxonomy, Emily Sherwin

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This essay examines the ambition to taxonomize law and the different methods a legal taxonomer might employ. Three possibilities emerge. The first is a formal taxonomy that classifies legal materials according to rules of order and clarity. Formal taxonomy is primarily conventional and has no normative implications for judicial decision-making. The second possibility is a function-based taxonomy that classifies laws according to their social functions. Function-based taxonomy can influence legal decision-making indirectly, as a gatekeeping mechanism, but it does not provide decisional standards for courts. Its objective is to assist in analysis and criticism of law by providing an overview ...


Women In The Legal Profession From The 1920s To The 1970s: What Can We Learn From Their Experience About Law And Social Change?, Cynthia Grant Bowman Jan 2009

Women In The Legal Profession From The 1920s To The 1970s: What Can We Learn From Their Experience About Law And Social Change?, Cynthia Grant Bowman

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Human Persons, Human Rights, And The Distributive Structure Of Global Justice, Robert C. Hockett Jan 2009

Human Persons, Human Rights, And The Distributive Structure Of Global Justice, Robert C. Hockett

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

It is common for economically oriented transnational legal theorists to think and communicate mainly in maximizing terms. It is less common for them to notice that each time we speak explicitly of maximizing one thing, we speak implicitly of distributing another thing and equalizing yet another thing. Moreover, we effectively define ourselves and our fellow humans by reference to that which we equalize. For it is in virtue of the latter that our global welfare formulations treat us as "counting" for purposes of globally aggregating and maximizing.

To analyze maximization language on the one hand, and equalization and identification language ...


International Law In Domestic Courts: A Conflict Of Laws Approach, Karen Knop, Ralf Michaels, Annelise Riles Jan 2009

International Law In Domestic Courts: A Conflict Of Laws Approach, Karen Knop, Ralf Michaels, Annelise Riles

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The relationship between international law and domestic law is rarely understood as a conflict of laws. Understanding it in this way opens up a parallel with the field of conflict of laws: the field for which the relationship between legal systems, especially the role of another system's jurisdiction, laws, and judgments vis-à-vis the domestic legal system, are exactly the bread-and-butter issues. We argue for such an approach to international law in domestic courts: an approach that we elaborate as "theory through technique."

In our view, conflicts should be seen broadly as the discipline that developed to deal with conflicts ...


Daniel Defoe And The Written Constitution, Bernadette Meyler Nov 2008

Daniel Defoe And The Written Constitution, Bernadette Meyler

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Today, as constitutionalism spreads around the globe, it is embodied de rigueur in written documents. Even places that sustained polities for centuries without a written constitution have begun to succumb to the lure of writtenness. America, we think, spawned this worldwide force, inaugurating a radically new form of political organization when it adopted the U.S. Constitution as its foundational text. Yet the notion of the written constitution had, in fact, received an earlier imprimatur from the pen of Daniel Defoe, English novelist, political pamphleteer, and secret agent. Plying his trades in the early eighteenth century, Defoe, now known largely ...


Leaving The House: The Constitutional Status Of Resignation From The House Of Representatives, Josh Chafetz Nov 2008

Leaving The House: The Constitutional Status Of Resignation From The House Of Representatives, Josh Chafetz

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Do members of the House of Representatives have a constitutional right to resign their seats? This Article uses that question as a window onto broader issues about the relationship between legislators and citizens and the respective roles of liberalism and republicanism in the American constitutional order. The Constitution explicitly provides for the resignation of senators, presidents, and vice presidents, but, curiously, it does not say anything about resigning from the House of Representatives. Should we allow the expressio unius interpretive canon to govern and conclude that the inclusion of some resignation provisions implies the impermissibility of resignation when there is ...


Heuristics, Biases, And Philosophy, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski Jul 2008

Heuristics, Biases, And Philosophy, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Commenting on Professor Cass Sunstein's work is a daunting task. There is simply so much of it. Professor Sunstein produces scholarship at a rate that is faster than I can consume it. Scarcely an area of law has failed to feel his impact. One cannot today write an article on administrative law, free speech, punitive damages, Internet law, law and economics, separation of powers, or animal rights law without addressing one or more of Sunstein's papers. And his work is typically not a mere footnote. Sunstein has changed how scholars think about each of these areas of law ...


How The International Financial Institutions Can Help To Win Globalization Of More Stakeholders - By Making More Stockholders, Robert C. Hockett Jan 2008

How The International Financial Institutions Can Help To Win Globalization Of More Stakeholders - By Making More Stockholders, Robert C. Hockett

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Blinking On The Bench: How Judges Decide Cases, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich Nov 2007

Blinking On The Bench: How Judges Decide Cases, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

How do judges judge? Do they apply law to facts in a mechanical and deliberative way, as the formalists suggest they do, or do they rely on hunches and gut feelings, as the realists maintain? Debate has raged for decades, but researchers have offered little hard evidence in support of either model. Relying on empirical studies of judicial reasoning and decision making, we propose an entirely new model of judging that provides a more accurate explanation of judicial behavior. Our model accounts for the tendency of the human brain to make automatic, snap judgments, which are surprisingly accurate, but which ...


On The Very Idea Of Transitional Justice, Jens David Ohlin Apr 2007

On The Very Idea Of Transitional Justice, Jens David Ohlin

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The phrase "transitional justice" has had an amazingly successful career at an early age. Popularized as an academic concept in the early 1990s in the aftermath of apartheid's collapse in South Africa, the phrase quickly gained traction in a variety of global contexts, including Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Cambodia, and Sierra Leone. A sizeable literature has been generated around it, so much so that one might even call it a sub-discipline with inter-disciplinary qualities. Nonetheless, the concept remains an enigma. It defines the contours of an entire field of intellectual inquiry, yet at the same time it hides more than it ...


Heuristics And Biases In Bankruptcy Judges, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich Mar 2007

Heuristics And Biases In Bankruptcy Judges, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Do specialized judges make better decisions than judges who are generalists? Specialized judges surely come to know their area of law well, but specialization might also allow judges to develop better, more reliable ways of assessing cases. We assessed this question by presenting a group of specialized judges with a set of hypothetical cases designed to elicit a reliance on common heuristics that can lead judges to make poor decisions. Although the judges resisted the influence of some of these heuristics, they also expressed a clear vulnerability to others. These results suggest that specialization does not produce better judgment.


Comments On The Comments, Robert S. Summers Mar 2007

Comments On The Comments, Robert S. Summers

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The paper replies to Bix and Soper (Bix 2007; Soper 2007). Bix’s paper raises methodological questions, especially whether a form-theorist merely needs to reflect on form from the arm-chair so to speak. A variety of methods is called for, including conceptual analysis, study of usage, “education in the obvious,” general reflection on the nature of specific functional legal units, empirical research on their operation and effects, and still more. Further methodological remarks are made in response to Soper’s paper. Soper suggests the possibility of substituting “form v. substance” of a unit as the central contrast here rather than ...


Inside The Bankruptcy Judge's Mind, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich Dec 2006

Inside The Bankruptcy Judge's Mind, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In this paper, we extend our prior work on generalist judges to explore whether specialization leads to superior judicial decision making. To do so, we report the results of a study of federal bankruptcy judges. In one prior study of bankruptcy judges, Ted Eisenberg reported evidence suggesting that bankruptcy judges, like generalist judges, are susceptible to the "self-serving" or "egocentric" bias when making judgments. Here, we report evidence showing that bankruptcy judges are vulnerable to anchoring and framing effects, but appear largely unaffected by the omission bias, a debtor's race, a debtor's apology, and "terror management" or "mortality ...


Towards A Common Law Originalism, Bernadette Meyler Dec 2006

Towards A Common Law Originalism, Bernadette Meyler

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Originalists' emphasis upon William Blackstone's "Commentaries on the Laws of England" tends to suggest that the common law of the Founding era consisted in a set of determinate rules that can be mined for the purposes of constitutional interpretation. This Article argues instead that disparate strands of the common law, some emanating from the colonies and others from England, some more archaic and others more innovative, co-existed at the time of the Founding. Furthermore, jurists and politicians of the Founding generation were not unaware that the common law constituted a disunified field; indeed, the jurisprudence of the common law ...