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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Hollowness Of The Harm Principle, Steven D. Smith Dec 2011

The Hollowness Of The Harm Principle, Steven D. Smith

Steven D. Smith

Among the various instruments in the toolbox of liberalism, the so-called “harm principle,” presented as the central thesis of John Stuart Mill’s classic On Liberty, has been one of the most popular. The harm principle has been widely embraced and invoked in both academic and popular debate about a variety of issues ranging from obscenity to drug regulation to abortion to same-sex marriage, and its influence is discernible in legal arguments and judicial opinions as well. Despite the principle’s apparent irresistibility, this essay argues that the principle is hollow. It is an empty vessel, alluring but without any inherent legal …

Holmes And Dissent, Allen P. Mendenhall Nov 2011

Holmes And Dissent, Allen P. Mendenhall

Allen Mendenhall

Holmes saw the dissent as a mechanism to advance and preserve arguments and as a pageant for wordplay. Dissents, for Holmes, occupied an interstitial space between law and non-law. The thought and theory of pragmatism allowed him to recreate the dissent as a stage for performative text, a place where signs and syntax could mimic the environment of the particular time and place and in so doing become, or strive to become, law. Holmes’s dissents were sites of aesthetic adaptation. The language of his dissents was acrobatic. It acted and reacted and called attention to itself. The more provocative and …

Procedure's Ambiguity, Mark Moller Apr 2011

Procedure's Ambiguity, Mark Moller

Indiana Law Journal

By leaving the meaning of a statute—or procedural rule—undecided, ambiguous appellate decisions create space for lower courts to adopt a blend of conflicting approaches, yielding an average result that trims between competing preferences. While compromising in this way may seem to flout basic norms of good judging, this Article shows that opaque “compromise” opinions have plausible normative appeal, given premises about good interpretation often labeled “pluralist.” Judicial pluralists think courts should decide cases in ways interest groups would, hypothetically, accept. To demonstrate the pluralist appeal of opaque decisions, I develop, in turn, two related claims: First, interest groups, under the …

An Essay On Torts: States Of Argument, Marshall S. Shapo Jan 2011

An Essay On Torts: States Of Argument, Marshall S. Shapo

Faculty Working Papers

This essay summarizes high points in torts scholarship and case law over a period of two generations, highlighting the "states of argument" that have characterized tort law over that period. It intertwines doctrine and policy. Its doctrinal features include the tradtional spectrum of tort liability, the duty question, problems of proof, and the relative incoherency of damages rules. Noting the cross-doctrinal role of tort as a solver of functional problems, it focuses on major issues in products liability and medical malpractice. The essay discusses such elements of policy as the role of power in tort law, the tension between communitarianism …

Heidegger And The Essence Of Adjudication, George Souri Jan 2011

Heidegger And The Essence Of Adjudication, George Souri

George Souri

This paper presents an account of adjudication based on the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. As this paper argues, we can only hope to better understand adjudication if we recognize that adjudication is a socio-temporally situated activity, and not a theoretical object. Heidegger’s philosophical insights are especially salient to such a project for several reasons. First, Heidegger’s re-conception of ontology, and his notion of being-in-the-world, provide a truer-to-observation account of how human beings come to understand their world and take in the content of experience towards completing projects. Second, Heidegger’s account of context, inter-subjectivity, and common understanding provide a basis upon …

Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz Jan 2011

Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

This short nontechnical article reviews the Arrow Impossibility Theorem and its implications for rational democratic decisionmaking. In the 1950s, economist Kenneth J. Arrow proved that no method for producing a unique social choice involving at least three choices and three actors could satisfy four seemingly obvious constraints that are practically constitutive of democratic decisionmaking. Any such method must violate such a constraint and risks leading to disturbingly irrational results such and Condorcet cycling. I explain the theorem in plain, nonmathematical language, and discuss the history, range, and prospects of avoiding what seems like a fundamental theoretical challenge to the possibility …

Franz Kafka, Lawrence Joseph, And The Possibilities Of Jurisprudential Literature, Patrick J. Glen Jan 2011

Franz Kafka, Lawrence Joseph, And The Possibilities Of Jurisprudential Literature, Patrick J. Glen

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The purpose of this article is twofold. First, it offers a complementary reading of Franz Kafka’s writings on the law and Lawrence Joseph’s novel Lawyerland. This reading focuses on the distinct perspectives offered by these authors. Whereas Kafka approaches the law from the perspective of the litigant or accused, Joseph’s perspective, through the eyes of his lawyers and judges, is that of the consummate insider. The importance of perspective rests with the fact that although law might constitute an objective system, its experience is inevitably subjective. The absurd malevolence of law in Kafka can thus be rationalized by the system …

Affirmative Action As Government Speech, William M. Carter Jr. Jan 2011

Affirmative Action As Government Speech, William M. Carter Jr.


This article seeks to transform how we think about “affirmative action.” The Supreme Court’s affirmative action jurisprudence appears to be a seamless whole, but closer examination reveals important differences. Government race-consciousness sometimes grants a benefit to members of a minority group for remedial or diversifying purposes. But the government may also undertake remedial or diversifying race-conscious action without it resulting in unequal treatment or disadvantage to non-minorities. Under the Court’s current equal protection doctrine, both categories of cases are treated as presumptively unconstitutional. Race-consciousness itself has become a constitutional harm, regardless of tangible effects.

Prior scholarship has suggested that the …