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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

A New Philosophy In The Supreme Court, Robert M. Sanger Aug 2018

A New Philosophy In The Supreme Court, Robert M. Sanger

Robert M. Sanger

This is a positive article about the soon-to-be-newlyminted United States Supreme Court. No, this is not written by a guest columnist and, yes, the present author still holds progressive views regarding criminal justice. Assuming the Supreme Court and other branches of government continue to function – even if in less than an optimal fashion – we, as lawyers, have to work with what we have. We have a conservative Supreme Court with, presumably, conservative principles, and that is with which we must work. One of the characteristics often seen in individual Supreme Court Justices is the tendency to rise above the politics ...


Mccleskey V. Kemp: Field Notes From 1977-1991, John Charles Boger Jun 2018

Mccleskey V. Kemp: Field Notes From 1977-1991, John Charles Boger

Northwestern University Law Review

The litigation campaign that led to McCleskey v. Kemp did not begin as an anti-death-penalty effort. It grew in soil long washed in the blood of African-Americans, lynched or executed following rude semblances of trials and hasty appeals, which had prompted the NAACP from its very founding to demand “simple justice” in individual criminal cases. When the Warren Court signaled, in the early 1960s, that it might be open to reflection on broader patterns of racial discrimination in capital sentencing, the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) began to gather empirical evidence and craft appropriate constitutional responses. As that effort built, other deficiencies in state capital states became apparent, and LDF eventually asserted a broader constitutional critique of state capital structures and processes. By 1967, LDF and its allies had developed a nationwide “moratorium” campaign that challenged death sentencing statutes in virtually every state.

Though the campaign appeared poised for partial success in 1969, changes in Court personnel and shifts in the nation’s mood dashed LDF’s initial hopes. Yet unexpectedly, in 1972, five Justices ruled in Furman v. Georgia that all death sentences and all capital statutes nationwide would fall under the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments. Each of the nine Furman Justices wrote separately, without a single governing rationale beyond their expressed uneasiness that the death penalty was being imposed infrequently, capriciously, and in an arbitrary manner. Thirty-five states promptly enacted new and revised capital statutes. Four years later, a majority of the Court held that three of those new state statutes met Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment standards. The 1976 Court majority expressed confidence that the states’ newly revised procedures should work to curb the arbitrariness and capriciousness that had earlier troubled the Furman majority.

The McCleskey case emerged from subsequent review of post-Furman sentencing patterns in the State of Georgia. A brilliant and exhaustive study by Professor David Baldus and his colleagues demonstrated that the Court’s assumptions in 1976 were wrong; strong racial disparities in capital sentencing continued to persist statewide in Georgia—especially in cases in ...


The Supreme Court Before John Marshall, Scott Douglas Gerber May 2018

The Supreme Court Before John Marshall, Scott Douglas Gerber

University of St. Thomas Law Journal

No abstract provided.


How Law Employs Historical Narratives: The Great Compromise As An Example, Louis J. Sirico Jr. Apr 2018

How Law Employs Historical Narratives: The Great Compromise As An Example, Louis J. Sirico Jr.

Pepperdine Law Review

Although historians base their interpretations on facts, they often use the same facts to tell a variety of stories. Of the varying stories, which gain acceptance by society and the courts? To explore this question, this Article examines the historiography of the Great Compromise. At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, the deputies debated how to elect members of the House and Senate. Should each state have equal representation or should each state have representation based on its population? The heavily populated states wanted population-based (proportional) representation while the less populated states wanted a one-state-one-vote system. After difficult debates, the Convention, by ...


A Painful History : Symbols Of The Confederacy: A Conversation About The Tension Between Preserving History And Declaring Contemporary Values 1-19-2018, Michael M. Bowden Jan 2018

A Painful History : Symbols Of The Confederacy: A Conversation About The Tension Between Preserving History And Declaring Contemporary Values 1-19-2018, Michael M. Bowden

School of Law Conferences, Lectures & Events

No abstract provided.


Substantive Due Process And The Politicization Of The Supreme Court, Eric Millman Jan 2018

Substantive Due Process And The Politicization Of The Supreme Court, Eric Millman

CMC Senior Theses

Substantive due process is one of the most cherished and elusive doctrines in American constitutional jurisprudence. The understanding that the Constitution of the United States protects not only specifically enumerated rights, but also broad concepts such as “liberty,” “property,” and “privacy,” forms the foundation for some of the Supreme Court’s most impactful—and controversial—decisions.

This thesis explores the constitutional merits and politicizing history of natural rights jurisprudence from its application in Dred Scott v. Sandford to its recent evocation in Obergefell v. Hodges. Indeed, from slavery to same-same sex marriage, substantive due process has played a pivotal role ...