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Full-Text Articles in Law

Our Imperial Federal Courts, Matthew J. Steilen Jun 2021

Our Imperial Federal Courts, Matthew J. Steilen

Journal Articles

This essay is a response to Christian R. Burset, Advisory Opinions and the Problem of Legal Authority, 74VAND.L.REV.621(2021).

“The article is significant for the archival work alone. It is useful, as well, for the impressive synthesis of the existing secondary literature, collected in the footnotes, which makes a convenient reading list for us mere mortals. The argument of the article is ambitious. As the Table of Contents suggests, its structure is complex: the author asks us to visit three different jurisdictions (two British and one American, each thousands of miles apart), in three different decades, in three different political and …


Advisory Opinions And The Problem Of Legal Authority, Christian Burset Jan 2021

Advisory Opinions And The Problem Of Legal Authority, Christian Burset

Journal Articles

The prohibition against advisory opinions is fundamental to our understanding of federal judicial power, but we have misunderstood its origins. Discussions of the doctrine begin not with a constitutional text or even a court case, but a letter in which the Jay Court rejected President Washington’s request for legal advice. Courts and scholars have offered a variety of explanations for the Jay Court’s behavior. But they all depict the earliest Justices as responding to uniquely American concerns about advisory opinions. This Article offers a different explanation. Drawing on previously untapped archival sources, it shows that judges throughout the anglophone world—not …