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A Short History Of The Interpretation-Construction Distinction, Gregory Klass Jun 2024

A Short History Of The Interpretation-Construction Distinction, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This document collects for ease of access and citation three of my posts on the New Private Law Blog, which chart the conceptual history of the interpretation-construction distinction. The posts begin with Francis Lieber’s 1939 introduction of the concepts, then describes Samual Williston’s 1920 account of the distinction in the first edition of Williston on Contracts, and concludes with Arthur Linton Corbin’s 1951 reconceptualization in the first edition of Corbin on Contracts. The posts identify two different conceptions of the distinction. Under the first (Lieber and Williston), construction supplements interpretation. Under the second (Corbin), the two activities complement one …


Brown Now: The Surprising Possibility Of Progressive Reform, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2024

Brown Now: The Surprising Possibility Of Progressive Reform, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

For four decades, the Supreme Court has engaged in a determined, systematic and successful effort to transform and tame Brown v. Board of Education. But in this article, written for a symposium on Brown at 70, I suggest a surprising counterweight to the standard narrative. If one takes modern doctrine seriously -- a big if, I concede-- it has the potential to support some progressive goals.

In particular, modern doctrine might provide progressives answers to three questions:

  1. Are race-conscious but facially neutral means of increasing diversity at state institutions of higher education constitutional?
  2. Are legacy admissions to state run institutions …


Updating Senator Borah: A Nuclear Kellogg-Briand Pact, David A. Koplow Jan 2024

Updating Senator Borah: A Nuclear Kellogg-Briand Pact, David A. Koplow

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In recognizing the legacy of Senator William E. Borah, the author shares his remarks from the Borah Symposium at the University of Idaho, about the Senator's personality and character, his contribution and later characterization to international law and national security, specifically the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact, and finally, a proposal to a modern reincarnation to the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the newer threats of this era.


American Law In The New Global Conflict, Mark Jia Jan 2024

American Law In The New Global Conflict, Mark Jia

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This Article surveys how a growing rivalry between the United States and China is changing the American legal system. It argues that U.S.-China conflict is reproducing, in attenuated form, the same politics of threat that has driven wartime legal development for much of our history. The result is that American law is reprising familiar patterns and pathologies. There has been a diminishment in rights among groups with imputed ties to a geopolitical adversary. But there has also been a modest expansion in rights where advocates have linked desired reforms with geopolitical goals. Institutionally, the new global conflict has at times …


Property And Sovereignty In America: A History Of Title Registries & Jurisdictional Power, K-Sue Park Jan 2023

Property And Sovereignty In America: A History Of Title Registries & Jurisdictional Power, K-Sue Park

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This Article tells an untold history of the American title registry—a colonial bureaucratic innovation that, though overlooked and understudied, constitutes one of the most fundamental elements of the U.S. property system today. Prior scholars have focused exclusively on its role in catalyzing property markets, while mostly ignoring their main sources in the colonies -- expropriated lands and enslaved people. This analysis centers the institution’s work of organizing and “proving” claims that were not only individual but collective, to affirm encroachments on tribal nations’ lands and scaffold colonies’ tenuous but growing political, jurisdictional power. In other words, American property and property …


Gouverneur Morris And The Drafting Of The Federalist Constitution, William M. Treanor Jan 2023

Gouverneur Morris And The Drafting Of The Federalist Constitution, William M. Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The Salmon P. Chase Colloquium series has had two themes: One is great moments in constitutional law, and the other is people who have been forgotten but should not have been. This colloquium is primarily in the latter category—it is about a forgotten founder of the Constitution. But the Constitution has more than one forgotten founder. I did a Google search this afternoon for “Forgotten Founder” and there are a whole series of books on various people who are the Constitution’s Forgotten Founder. So the Chase Colloquium series has another decade of subjects: Luther Martin, George Mason, Charles Pinckney, Roger …


The Future Scope Of The Character Evidence Prohibition: The Contextual Statutory Construction Argument That Could Finally Force The Policy Discussion, Paul F. Rothstein, Edward J. Imwinkelried Jan 2023

The Future Scope Of The Character Evidence Prohibition: The Contextual Statutory Construction Argument That Could Finally Force The Policy Discussion, Paul F. Rothstein, Edward J. Imwinkelried

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The general prohibition of character evidence is one of the most important doctrines in American Evidence law. Since the Supreme Court has held that the Eighth Amendment forbids status offenses in adult prosecutions, the doctrine has constitutional overtones. Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) applies the prohibition to evidence of an accused’s other crimes and wrongs. Since such evidence can be inflammatory and the Rule’s limits sometimes confusing, Rule 404(b) generates more published opinions than any other provision of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Although the prohibition extends beyond other crimes, most of the controversy swirls around the Rule’s application to …


The History Wars And Property Law: Conquest And Slavery As Foundational To The Field, K-Sue Park Feb 2022

The History Wars And Property Law: Conquest And Slavery As Foundational To The Field, K-Sue Park

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This Article addresses the stakes of the ongoing fight over competing versions of U.S. history for our understanding of law, with a special focus on property law. Insofar as legal scholarship has examined U.S. law within the historical context in which it arose, it has largely overlooked the role that laws and legal institutions played in facilitating the production of the two preeminent market commodities in the colonial and early Republic periods: expropriated lands and enslaved people. Though conquest and enslavement were key to producing property for centuries, property-law scholars have constructed the field of property law to be largely …


America’S Racial Stain: The Taint Argument And The Limits Of Constitutional Law And Rhetoric, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2022

America’S Racial Stain: The Taint Argument And The Limits Of Constitutional Law And Rhetoric, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

How should reformers respond to America’s racial stain? The problem is more complex than many imagine. Political activists usually attempt to promote change by taking advantage of a gap between current reality and a touchstone they use to measure the normative desirability of that reality. But what if the touchstone itself is infected by the reality that activists want to change?

Questions raised by this problem do not lend themselves to definitive answers, and this essay does not offer them. Instead, I suggest a variety of responses that attempt to grapple with the difficulty. I also offer tentative assessments of …


Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates—A Wider Freedom, Lawrence O. Gostin Oct 2021

Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates—A Wider Freedom, Lawrence O. Gostin

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

President Biden has required COVID-19 vaccinations across much of the US workforce, reaching nearly 100 million workers. Opponents call it unconstitutional, a violation of personal freedom, and even “un-American.” The truth is that vaccine mandates are lawful and deeply entrenched in US history and values. They constitute a “wider freedom” so that everyone in society can feel safer where they work, learn, worship, and live.


Complicity And Lesser Evils: A Tale Of Two Lawyers, David Luban Jan 2021

Complicity And Lesser Evils: A Tale Of Two Lawyers, David Luban

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Government lawyers and other public officials sometimes face an excruciating moral dilemma: to stay on the job or to quit, when the government is one they find morally abhorrent. Staying may make them complicit in evil policies; it also runs the danger of inuring them to wrongdoing, just as their presence on the job helps inure others. At the same time, staying may be their only opportunity to mitigate those policies – to make evils into lesser evils – and to uphold the rule of law when it is under assault. This Article explores that dilemma in a stark form: …


Who Owns The Skies? Ad Coelum, Property Rights, And State Sovereignty, Laura K. Donohue Jan 2021

Who Owns The Skies? Ad Coelum, Property Rights, And State Sovereignty, Laura K. Donohue

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In light of the history of the doctrine of ad coelum, as well as the states’ preeminent role (secured by the Tenth Amendment) in regulating property and airspace up to the 500-foot level, it is remarkable that the federal government has begun to claim that it controls everything above the blades of grass. This chapter challenges those statements, demonstrating that history and law establish that property owners, and the states, control the airspace adjacent to the land.


Delegation, Administration, And Improvisation, Kevin Arlyck Jan 2021

Delegation, Administration, And Improvisation, Kevin Arlyck

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Nondelegation originalism is having its moment. Recent Supreme Court opinions suggest that a majority of justices may be prepared to impose strict constitutional limits on Congress’s power to delegate policymaking authority to the executive branch. In response, scholars have scoured the historical record for evidence affirming or refuting a more stringent version of nondelegation than current Supreme Court doctrine demands. Though the debate ranges widely, sharp disputes have arisen over whether a series of apparently broad Founding-era delegations defeat originalist arguments in favor of a more stringent modern doctrine. Proponents—whom I call “nondelegationists”—argue that these historical delegations can all be …


Race And Property Law, K-Sue Park Jan 2021

Race And Property Law, K-Sue Park

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This chapter offers an outline for understanding the key role of race in producing property values in the history of the American property law system. It identifies major developments in the mutually formative relationship between race and property in America that made and remade property interests in America through the processes of 1) dispossessing nonwhites, 2) degrading their homelands, communities, and selves, and 3) limiting their efforts to enter public space and occupy or acquire property within the regime thereby established. First, it describes the use of law to create the two most important forms of property in the colonies …


From Parchment To Dust: The Case For Constitutional Skepticism (Introduction), Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2021

From Parchment To Dust: The Case For Constitutional Skepticism (Introduction), Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This is the introduction to a new book entitled "From Parchment to Dust: The Case for Constitutional Skepticism." The introduction sets out a preliminary case for constitutional skepticism and outlines the arguments contained in the rest of the book.


Constitutional Skepticism And Local Facts, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2021

Constitutional Skepticism And Local Facts, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Are written constitutions evil? In his new book, Constitutional Idolatry and Democracy, Brian Christoper Jones argues that they are. He claims that written constitutions fail to unite societies, degrade democratic engagement, and obstruct necessary constitutional maintenance. This review of his book argues that he is mostly right about the effects of the American Constitution, but that the effects of other constitutions will vary depending upon local facts.


The Case Of The Dishonest Scrivener: Gouverneur Morris And The Creation Of The Federalist Constitution, William M. Treanor Jan 2021

The Case Of The Dishonest Scrivener: Gouverneur Morris And The Creation Of The Federalist Constitution, William M. Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

At the end of the Constitutional Convention, the delegates appointed the Committee of Style and Arrangement to bring together the textual provisions that the Convention had previously agreed to and to prepare a final constitution. Pennsylvania delegate Gouverneur Morris drafted the document for the Committee, and, with few revisions and little debate, the Convention adopted Morris’s draft. For more than two hundred years, questions have been raised as to whether Morris covertly altered the text in order to advance his constitutional vision, but modern legal scholars and historians studying the Convention have either ignored the issue or concluded that Morris …


Of Sheepdogs And Ventriloquists: Government Lawyers In Two New Deal Agencies, Daniel R. Ernst Jan 2021

Of Sheepdogs And Ventriloquists: Government Lawyers In Two New Deal Agencies, Daniel R. Ernst

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

From the neo-Weberian literature on state-building and the political sociology of the legal profession, one might expect government lawyers to be sheepdogs, nipping at the heels of straying administrators, supplying their agencies with the bureaucratic autonomy so often missing in American government. In this contribution to “Serious Fun” a symposium in honor of John Henry Schlegel of the University at Buffalo School of Law, I report my preliminary findings for two agencies created during the Hundred Days of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and the National Recovery Administration. I suggest that the neo-Weberian model tends to minimize …


The Genius Of Hamilton And The Birth Of The Modern Theory Of The Judiciary, William M. Treanor Jan 2020

The Genius Of Hamilton And The Birth Of The Modern Theory Of The Judiciary, William M. Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In late May 1788, with the essays of the Federalist on the Congress (Article I) and the Executive (Article II) completed, Alexander Hamilton turned, finally, to Article III and the judiciary. The Federalist’s essays 78 to 83 – the essays on the judiciary - had limited effect on ratification. No newspaper outside New York reprinted them, and they appeared very late in the ratification process – after eight states had ratified. But, if these essays had little immediate impact – essentially limited to the ratification debates in New York and, perhaps, Virginia – they were a stunning intellectual achievement. Modern …


Conquest And Slavery In The Property Law Course: Notes For Teachers, K-Sue Park Jan 2020

Conquest And Slavery In The Property Law Course: Notes For Teachers, K-Sue Park

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This piece contains ideas for teaching about the foundational place of the histories of conquest and slavery to American property law and the property law course. I begin by briefly reviewing how these topics have been erased and marginalized from the study of American property law, as mentioned by casebooks in the field published from the late nineteenth century to the present. I then show how the history of conquest constituted the context in which the singular American land system and traditional theories of acquisition developed, before turning to the history of the American slave trade and the long history …


Three Keys To The Original Meaning Of The Privileges Or Immunities Clause, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2020

Three Keys To The Original Meaning Of The Privileges Or Immunities Clause, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Establishing the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause requires a wealth of evidence. But three key data points are crucial to identifying the core of its meaning. First, Supreme Court Justice Washington’s explanation of the meaning of “privileges and immunities” in Corfield v. Coryell; second, the rights protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1866; and third, Michigan Senator Jacob Howard’s speech explaining the content of the Privileges or Immunities Clause when introducing the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Senate in 1866. Any theory of the Privileges or Immunities Clause and its original meaning …


The Shallow State: The Federal Communications Commission And The New Deal, Daniel R. Ernst May 2019

The Shallow State: The Federal Communications Commission And The New Deal, Daniel R. Ernst

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

American lawyers and law professors commonly turn to the New Deal for insights into the law and politics of today’s administrative state. Usually, they have looked to agencies created in the 1930s that became the foundation of the postwar political order. Some have celebrated these agencies; others have deplored them as the core of an elitist, antidemocratic Deep State. This article takes a different tack by studying the Federal Communications Commission, an agency created before the New Deal. For most of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first two presidential terms, the FCC languished within the “Shallow State,” bossed about by patronage-seeking politicians, …


Self-Deportation Nation, K-Sue Park May 2019

Self-Deportation Nation, K-Sue Park

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

“Self-deportation” is a concept to explain the removal strategy of making life so unbearable for a group that its members will leave a place. The term is strongly associated with recent state and municipal attempts to “attack every aspect of an illegal alien’s life,” including the ability to find employment and housing, drive a vehicle, make contracts, and attend school. However, self-deportation has a longer history, one that predates and made possible the establishment of the United States. As this Article shows, American colonists pursued this indirect approach to remove native peoples as a prerequisite for establishing and growing their …


Mr. Try-It Goes To Washington: Law And Policy At The Agricultural Adjustment Administration, Daniel R. Ernst Apr 2019

Mr. Try-It Goes To Washington: Law And Policy At The Agricultural Adjustment Administration, Daniel R. Ernst

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In December 1933, Jerome Frank, the general counsel of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration but better for writing Law and the Modern Mind (1930), a sensational attack on legal formalism, told an audience at the Association of American Law Schools a parable about two lawyers in the New Deal, each forced to interpret same, ambiguous statutory language. The first lawyer, “Mr. Absolute,” reasoned from the text and canons of statutory interpretation without regard for the desirability of the outcome. “Mr. Try-It,” in contrast, began with the outcome he thought desirable. He then said to himself, “The administration is for it, and …


Progressive And Populist Strands In American Constitutionalism, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2019

Progressive And Populist Strands In American Constitutionalism, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Many modern liberals believe that the federal government is captured by a “billionaire party” determined to wield public power for private gain. But many of them also believe in giving the federal government greatly enhanced powers, like administering “Medicare for all.”

There is a history to this contradiction. Modern liberalism is an amalgam of older populist and progressive impulses with deep roots in the country’s past. The populist impulse locates the source of economic oppression in government corruption. The solution to this problem is direct, popular democracy. Progressives tend to locate the source of economic oppression in the malfunction of …


The Declaration Of Independence And The American Theory Of Government: “First Come Rights, And Then Comes Government”, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2019

The Declaration Of Independence And The American Theory Of Government: “First Come Rights, And Then Comes Government”, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The topic of this panel is the Declaration of Independence, to which I devoted a chapter of my recent book, Our Republican Constitution. I want to draw on that book to make five points.


On Being Old Codgers: A Conversation About A Half Century In Legal Education, Mark Tushnet, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2019

On Being Old Codgers: A Conversation About A Half Century In Legal Education, Mark Tushnet, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This conversation, conducted over three evenings, captures some of our thoughts about the last half century of legal education as both of us near retirement. We have edited the conversations so as to eliminate verbal stumbles and present our ideas more coherently, slightly reorganized a small part of the conversation, and added a few explanatory footnotes. However, we have attempted to keep the informal tone of our discussions.


The Canon Wars, Anita S. Krishnakumar, Victoria Nourse Nov 2018

The Canon Wars, Anita S. Krishnakumar, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Canons are taking their turn down the academic runway in ways that no one would have foretold just a decade ago. Affection for canons of construction has taken center stage in recent Supreme Court cases and in constitutional theory. Harvard Dean John Manning and originalists Will Baude and Stephen Sachs have all suggested that principles of “ordinary interpretation” including canons should inform constitutional interpretation. Given this newfound enthusiasm for canons, and their convergence in both constitutional and statutory law, it is not surprising that we now have two competing book-length treatments of the canons—one by Justice Scalia and Bryan Garner, …


State Action And The Constitution's Middle Band, Louis Michael Seidman Oct 2018

State Action And The Constitution's Middle Band, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

On conventional accounts, the state action doctrine is dichotomous. When the government acts, constitutional limits take hold and the government action is invalid if those limits are exceeded. When the government fails to act, the state action doctrine leaves decisions to individuals, who are permitted to violate what would otherwise be constitutional constraints.

It turns out though that the modern state action doctrine creates three rather than two domains. There is indeed a private, inner band where there is thought to be insufficient government action to trigger constitutional constraints, but often there is also a public, outer band where there …


The Law (?) Of The Lincoln Assassination, Martin S. Lederman Mar 2018

The Law (?) Of The Lincoln Assassination, Martin S. Lederman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Shortly after John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, President Andrew Johnson directed that Booth’s alleged coconspirators be tried in a makeshift military tribunal, rather than in the Article III court that was open for business just a few blocks from Ford’s Theater. Johnson’s decision implicated a fundamental constitutional question that was a subject of heated debate throughout the Civil War: When, if ever, may the federal government circumvent Article III’s requirements of a criminal trial by jury, with an independent, tenure-protected presiding judge, by trying individuals other than members of the armed forces in a military …