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Legal History

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

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Full-Text Articles in Law

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 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 …


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 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 …


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 …


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, …


The Rise And Fall Of Unconscionability As The 'Law Of The Poor', Anne Fleming Jan 2014

The Rise And Fall Of Unconscionability As The 'Law Of The Poor', Anne Fleming

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

What happened to unconscionability? Here’s one version of the story: The doctrine of unconscionability experienced a brief resurgence in the mid-1960s at the hands of naive, left-liberal, activist judges, who used it to rewrite private consumer contracts according to their own sense of justice. These folks meant well, no doubt, much like present-day consumer protection crusaders who seek to ensure the “fairness” of financial products and services. But courts’ refusal to enforce terms they deemed "unconscionable” served only to increase the cost of doing business with low-income households. Judges ended up hurting the very people they were trying to help. …