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The Kavanaugh Hearings Were a Missed Opportunity—For Both Sides

In Humanities, Judicial Activism, Judicial Restraint, Jurisprudence, Justice, Law, Politics, The Supreme Court on September 12, 2018 at 6:45 am

This article originally appeared here in The Intercollegiate Review.

By now you’ve heard about the combative spectacle that was last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. This momentous event was characterized not by political acumen, wit, cunning, or prudence, but by partisan obstruction, lawlessness, tantrums, hysteria, ignorance, frenzy, and anger.

Protestors screamed vulgarities and trite slogans, proving they were not interested in Kavanaugh’s responses or in substantive intellectual debate. Seventy of them were arrested on Tuesday alone. If anything, their recurring interruptions and crude histrionics gave Kavanaugh time to pause and think about his responses rather than tire out and let down his guard.

Online left-wing rabble-rousers peddled an absurd conspiracy theory about Zina Bash, a former clerk for Kavanaugh—only shortly before right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was banned from Twitter. Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, publicly released documents that were allegedly confidential, claiming full knowledge of the possible repercussions of his act—namely, expulsion from the Senate. “Bring it,” Booker taunted Senator John Cornyn, who warned about the consequences of the supposed confidentiality breach. With unintended levity, Booker announced his “I am Spartacus” moment. Only the documents weren’t confidential after all; they’d already been approved for public release. Thus, Booker’s Spartacus Moment was merely a political stunt of faux bravery.

Why this hostility? Why these shenanigans?

A Deep Philosophical Clash

For starters, the midterm election cycle is upon us and the Mueller investigation appears to be nearing an end. Politicians like Booker are grandstanding for political gain as they consider running for president. Kavanaugh has been tapped to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, moreover, who was the court’s so-called swing vote, whereas Justice Gorsuch filled Justice Scalia’s seat. Gorsuch’s appointment did not tip the balance of the court the way Kavanaugh’s might. Democrats also remain angry that Republicans did not act on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland.

But something more is going on. We’re witnessing a philosophical clash regarding the proper role of the judiciary.

Kavanaugh identifies as an originalist and a textualist. Originalism comes in different permutations, having evolved since the days when it sought principally to recover the original intent of an author or authors. Its most prominent adherents today see it as an interpretive approach to the original public meaning of a text. It maintains that the words of the law should be construed according to their ordinary meaning as understood by a reasonable person at the time they were enacted.

Textualism, similarly, interprets words without resort to extratextual factors such as authorial intent or legislative history, focusing instead on the ordinary meaning of words as written. For the purposes of this piece, I use the term originalism without drawing distinctions between it and its close cousin textualism.

Getting Kavanaugh’s Originalism Wrong

Originalism so described seems uncontroversial on its face, but you wouldn’t get that impression from activists who have opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination. “Originalism conflicts sharply with American reality and American ideals,” writes Alan Brownstein, a retired law professor. He labels originalism “unamerican,” saying it accounts for the views of “only the people who were here in the 1780’s and 90’s or when specific constitutional amendments were adopted,” not for the views of the “vast new diversity of the American people today.”

This, I think, is wrong. Originalism properly understood is depolarizing, isolating judges from the political process rather than injecting them into it. The Constitution contemplates internal modifications, chiefly through the amendment process, which is, by design, difficult to facilitate. If originalism limits changes in law to those processes contemplated in the Constitution, as Brownstein alleges, then Brownstein has inadvertently labeled the Constitution “unamerican.” How can this founding document, which sets forth the basic framework of government for the United States, be “unamerican”?

Brownstein seems to imply that the amendment process, being slow and onerous, should not be the sole avenue for reform—that the courts ought to be a driver of progress when legislative solutions stall. The implication here is that the Constitution ought to be a “living” document that can be updated or improved through judicial correction and adaptation in cases. Judges should, accordingly, exercise quasi-legislative powers, promulgating binding rules and opinions to achieve justice or equality or to align with evolving standards of decency.

5 Reasons Everyone Wins with Originalism

Here’s why Brownstein is mistaken and why now more than ever a commitment to originalism would benefit both the left and the right.

First, originalism does not guarantee a particular political result. As Scalia, one of the original originalists, remarked, “If you’re going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you’re not always going to like the conclusions you reach. If you like them all the time, you’re probably doing something wrong.” Scalia sometimes reasoned to conclusions that favored Democratic or liberal policies because the operative text so required.

Second, originalism fosters trust in democratic systems. Legislatures and the public need to know that newly enacted laws stand a chance to last as long as they comport with the Constitution. People lose confidence in their governing institutions if they believe the laws they passed can be easily tinkered with or discarded by unelected and hence unaccountable judges.

Third, although originalism may lead to harsh results in certain cases, it leaves it to the collective wisdom of the people, acting through their representatives, to alter the law to achieve fairness or justice. Concentrating revisionary lawmaking power in one judge or group of judges increases the probability that an uncommon or idiosyncratic conception of justice that does not represent the conception of the people will become binding over them.

Fourth, originalism makes the law clearer and more predictable, not subject to the unpredictable or arbitrary considerations of a judge or group of judges. When the law as written is applied, parties to a case and the general public can with reasonable sureness predict a range of possible outcomes. But if judges do not apply the law as written, the range of possible outcomes multiplies to the extent that the law itself becomes uncertain, and parties cannot rely on the law when they make everyday decisions. Vagueness in the law causes arbitrary exercises of governmental power. Clarity in the law restrains government actors from exercising powers in a manner that has not been formally approved by the legislature.

Finally, originalism ensures the independence of the judiciary. Kavanaugh has insisted that he is an independent judge. Democrats may dispute that claim, but they can’t dispute that originalism itself operates to secure judicial independence. Originalism is nonpartisan and does not consistently yield results that can be easily classified as conservative or liberal. Even jurists on the left have embraced originalism. Justice Kagan famously declared, “We are all originalists now.”

A week after politicos and activists celebrated the bipartisan spirit of Senator John McCain, the Kavanaugh hearings broke down into partisan pandemonium. Originalism should have been a unifying feature of the Kavanaugh hearings. It wasn’t. So here we are today, approaching the midterm elections in a country that’s as divided as ever. God help us.

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Allen Mendenhall and Dan Sutter Discuss Appointments to the Supreme Court

In America, American History, Humanities, Law, The Supreme Court on September 5, 2018 at 6:45 am

In light of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings taking place this week, the following interview on the show “Econversations” is posted here.  This interview (filmed July 17, 2018) discusses the U.S. Supreme Court appointment process.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Pragmatism, and the Jurisprudence of Agon

In America, American History, American Literature, Arts & Letters, Books, History, Humanities, Jurisprudence, Law, Law-and-Literature, Legal Research & Writing, liberal arts, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Philosophy, Pragmatism, Rhetoric, Scholarship, The Supreme Court, Western Philosophy, Writing on December 7, 2016 at 6:45 am

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My latest book, scheduled for release next week through Bucknell University Press, is about United States Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.  The book continues my work at the intersection of law and the humanities and should interest scholars of literary theory, American literature, jurisprudence, and pragmatism.

I argue in the book that Holmes helps us see the law through an Emersonian lens by the way in which he wrote his judicial dissents. Holmes’s literary style mimics and enacts two characteristics of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s thought: “superfluity” and the “poetics of transition,” concepts ascribed to Emerson and developed by literary critic Richard Poirier. Using this aesthetic style borrowed from Emerson and carried out by later pragmatists, Holmes not only made it more likely that his dissents would remain alive for future judges or justices (because how they were written was itself memorable, whatever the value of their content), but also shaped our understanding of dissents and, in this, our understanding of law. By opening constitutional precedent to potential change, Holmes’s dissents made room for future thought, moving our understanding of legal concepts in a more pragmatic direction and away from formalistic understandings of law. Included in this new understanding is the idea that the “canon” of judicial cases involves oppositional positions that must be sustained if the law is to serve pragmatic purposes. This process of precedent-making in a common-law system resembles the construction of the literary canon as it is conceived by Harold Bloom and Richard Posner.

The book is available for purchase here:

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The Dissents of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

In American History, History, Humanities, Law, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., The Supreme Court on September 2, 2015 at 8:45 am

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The following table categorizes Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s dissents according to “Dissenting Opinions Authored” and “Dissenting Opinions Joined.” Totaling the dissents in each column will not result in the sum of the cases in which Holmes dissented because the table includes only cases in which Holmes dissented with a writing. (Holmes sometimes dissented without an opinion or joined another dissenting justice who did not write an opinion.) The seven cases that appear in both columns are Haddock v. Haddock, 201 U.S. 562 (1906); American Column & Lumber Co. v. U.S., 257 U.S. 377 (1921); U.S. ex rel. Milwaukee Social Democratic Pub. Co. v. Burleson, 255 U.S. 407 (1921); Myers v. U.S., 272 U.S. 52 (1926); Tyson & Bro.-United Theatre Ticket Offices v. Banton, 273 U.S. 418 (1927); Olmstead v. U.S., 277 U.S. 438 (1928); and Baldwin v. State of Missouri, 281 U.S. 586 (1930).

 

 

Dissenting Opinions Authored

 

 

Dissenting Opinions Joined

 

 

1.      Northern Securities Co. v. U.S., 193 U.S. 197 (1904) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

2.      Kepner v. U.S., 195 U.S. 100 (1904) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

3.      Muhlker v. New York & H.R. Co., 197 U.S. 544 (1905) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

4.      Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

5.      Madisonville Traction Co. v. St. Bernard Mining Co., 196 U.S. 239 (1905) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

6.      Haddock v. Haddock, 201 U.S. 562 (1906) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

7.      Bernheimer v. Converse, 206 U.S. 516 (1907) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

8.      Travers v. Reinhardt, 205 U.S. 423 (1907) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

9.      Chanler v. Kelsey, 205 U.S. 466 (1907) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

10.  Raymond v. Chicago Union Traction Co., 207 U.S. 20 (1907) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

11.  Howard v. Illinois Cent. R. Co., 207 U.S. 463 (1908) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

12.  Adair v. U.S., 208 U.S. 161 (1908) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

13.  Chicago, B. & Q. Ry. Co. v. Williams, 214 U.S. 492 (1909) (per curiam) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

14.  Keller v. U.S., 213 U.S. 138 (1909) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

15.  Continental Wall Paper Co. v. Louis Voight & Sons Co., 212 U.S. 227 (1909) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

16.  Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry. Co. v. Sowers, 213 U.S. 55 (1909) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

17.  Southern Ry. Co. v. King, 217 U.S. 524 (1910) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

18.  Kuhn v. Fairmont Coal Co., 215 U.S. 349 (1910) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

19.  Pullman Co. v. State of Kansas ex rel. Coleman, 216 U.S. 56 (1910) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

20.  Western Union Telegraph Co. v. State of Kansas ex rel. Coleman, 216 U.S. 1 (1910).

21.  Dr. Miles Medical Co. v. John D. Park & Sons Co., 220 U.S. 373 (1911) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

22.  Bailey v. State of Alabama, 219 U.S. 219 (1911) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

23.  Brown v. Elliott, 225 U.S. 392 (1912) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

24.  Hyde v. U.S., 225 U.S. 347 (1912) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

25.  Donnelly v. U.S., 228 U.S. 243 (1913) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

26.  Coppage v. State of Alabama, 236 U.S. 1 (1915) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

27.  Frank v. Mangum, 237 U.S. 309 (1915) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

28.  Southern Pac. Co. v. Jensen, 244 U.S. 205 (1917) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

29.  Motion Picture Patents Co. v. Universal Film Mfg. Co., 243 U.S. 502 (1917) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

30.  Ruddy v. Rossi, 248 U.S. 104 (1918) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

31.  Toledo Newspaper Co. v. U.S., 247 U.S. 402 (1918) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

32.  International News Service v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215 (1918) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

33.  Hammer v. Dagenhart, 247 U.S. 251 (1918) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

34.  City and County of Denver v. Denver Union Water Co., 246 U.S. 278 (1918) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

35.  Abrams v. U.S., 250 U.S. 616 (1919) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

36.  Maxwell v. Bugbee, 250 U.S. 525 (1919) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

37.  Evans v. Gore, 253 U.S. 245 (1920) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

38.  Knickerbocker Ice Co. v. Stewart, 253 U.S. 149 (1920) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

39.  Eisner v. Macomber, 252 U.S. 189 (1920) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

40.  Truax v. Corrigan, 257 U.S. 312 (1921) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

41.  American Column & Lumber Co. v. U.S., 257 U.S. 377 (1921) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

42.  Smith v. Kansas City Title & Trust Co., 255 U.S. 180 (1921) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

43.  U.S. ex rel. Milwaukee Social Democratic Pub. Co. v. Burleson, 255 U.S. 407 (1921) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

44.  Leach v. Carlile, 258 U.S. 138 (1922) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

45.  U.S. v. Behrman, 258 U.S. 280 (1922) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

46.  Federal Trade Commission v. Beech-Nut Packing Co., 257 U.S. 441 (1922) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

47.  Adkins v. Children’s Hospital of the District of Columbia, 261 U.S. 525 (1923) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

48.  Bartels v. State of Iowa, 262 U.S. 404 (1923) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

49.  Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. State of West Virginia, 262 U.S. 553 (1923) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

50.  Craig v. Hecht, 263 U.S. 255 (1923) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

51.  Panama R. Co. v. Rock, 266 U.S. 209 (1924) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

52.  Gitlow v. People of State of New York, 268 U.S. 652 (1925) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

53.  Weaver v. Palmer Bros. Co., 270 U.S. 402 (1926) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

54.  Schlesinger v. State of Wisconsin, 270 U.S. 230 (1926) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

55.  Myers v. U.S., 272 U.S. 52 (1926) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

56.  Frost v. Railroad Commission of State of Cal., 271 U.S. 583 (1926) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

57.  Power Mfg. Co. v. Sanders, 274 U.S. 490 (1927) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

58.  Tyson & Bro.-United Theatre Ticket Offices v. Banton, 273 U.S. 418 (1927) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

59.  Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue, 275 U.S. 87 (1927) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

60.  Quaker City Cab Co. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 277 U.S. 389 (1928) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

61.  Louisville Gas & Electric Co. v. Coleman, 277 U.S. 32 (1928) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

62.  Panhandle Oil Co. v. State of Mississippi ex rel. Knox, 277 U.S. 218 (1928) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

63.  Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. U.S., 276 U.S. 287 (1928) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

64.  Long v. Rockwood, 277 U.S. 142 (1928) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

65.  Louis K. Liggett Co. v. Baldridge, 278 U.S. 105 (1928) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

66.  Olmstead v. U.S., 277 U.S. 438 (1928) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

67.  Black & White Taxicab & Transfer Co. v. Brown & Yellow Taxicab & Transfer Co., 276 U.S. 518 (1928) (Holmes, J. dissenting).

68.  Springer v. Government of Philippine Islands, 277 U.S. 189 (1928) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

69.  U.S. v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644 (1929) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

70.  Farmer’s Loan & Trust Co. v. State of Minnesota, 280 U.S. 204 (1930) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

71.  New Jersey Bell Telephone Co. v. State Board of Texas and Assessment of New Jersey, 280 U.S. 338 (1930) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

72.  Baldwin v. State of Missouri, 281 U.S. 586 (1930) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

73.  Hoeper v. Tax Commission of Wis., 284 U.S. 206 (1931) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

 

 

1.      Board of Directors of Chicago Theological Seminary v. People of State of Illinois ex rel. Raymond, 188 U.S. 662 (1903) (White, J., dissenting).

2.      Hafemann v. Gross, 199 U.S. 342 (1905) (White, J., dissenting).

3.      Haddock v. Haddock, 201 U.S. 562 (1906) (Brown, J., dissenting).

4.      Neilson v. Rhine Shipping Co., 248 U.S. 205 (1918) (McKenna, J., dissenting).

5.      Sandberg v. McDonald, 248 U.S. 185 (1918) (McKenna, J., dissenting).

6.      F.S. Royster Guano Co. v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 253 U.S. 412 (1920) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

7.      Schaefer v. U.S., 251 U.S. 466 (1920) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

8.      U.S. v. Reading Co., 253 U.S. 26 (1920) (White, C.J., dissenting).

9.      Burdeau v. McDowell, 256 U.S. 465 (1921) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

10.  American Column & Lumber Co. v. U.S., 257 U.S. 377 (1921) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

11.  Duplex Printing Press Co. v. Deering, 254 U.S. 443 (1921) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

12.  U.S. ex rel. Milwaukee Social Democratic Pub. Co. v. Burleson, 255 U.S. 407 (1921) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

13.  U.S. v. Moreland, 258 U.S. 433 (1922) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

14.  U.S. v. Oregon Lumber Co., 260 U.S. 290 (1922) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

15.  Lemke v. Farmers’ Grain Co. of Embden, N.D., 258 U.S. 50 (1922) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

16.  Kentucky Finance Corp. v. Paramount Auto Exch. Corp., 262 U.S. 544 (1923) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

17.  Texas Transport & Terminal Co. v. City of New Orleans, 264 U.S. 150 (1924) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

18.  Jay Burns Baking Co. v. Bryan, 264 U.S. 504 (1924) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

19.  Myers v. U.S., 272 U.S. 52 (1926) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

20.  Di Santo v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 273 U.S. 34 (1927) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

21.  Tyson & Bro.-United Theatre Ticket Offices v. Banton, 273 U.S. 418 (1927) (Stone, J., dissenting).

22.  Olmstead v. U.S., 277 U.S. 438 (1928) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

23.  Wuchter v. Pizzutti, 276 U.S. 13 (1928) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

24.  John P. King Mfg. Co. v. City Council of Augusta, 277 U.S. 100 (1928) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

25.  Baldwin v. State of Missouri, 281 U.S. 586 (1930) (Stone, J., dissenting).

 

 

An Issue of Supreme Importance for 2016

In America, Conservatism, Judicial Activism, Judicial Restraint, Jurisprudence, Justice, Law, News and Current Events, Politics, The Supreme Court on April 22, 2015 at 8:45 am

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This piece originally appeared here in The American Spectator.

The time has come for politicians to announce their candidacy for president. In the following weeks we can expect more names to be tossed into the hat of presidential hopefuls. Already Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Rand Paul have proclaimed their desire to lead our country. Hillary Clinton made her candidacy official Sunday, and Senator Marco Rubio announced on Monday night.

The 2016 election is shaping up to be the most pivotal in decades, including for reasons not everyone is talking about.

It’s true that Republicans will challenge Obama’s legacy and that everything from Obamacare to payday loans will receive renewed and energetic scrutiny on the campaign trail.

Yet these won’t be the most pressing domestic issues facing the next president. Even more important will be the president’s judicial philosophy. That’s because the probability is high that the nation’s next chief executive administration will nominate at least three candidates to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Although confidence in the Court is at an all-time low, voters do not seem particularly concerned about the Court’s future composition. Perhaps the typical voter does not understand the role the president plays in nominating justices. Perhaps the goings-on of the judicial branch seem distant and aloof and out of the purview of our everyday worries. Perhaps most people are too short-sighted to consider the long-term and far-reaching effects that a president can have on the legal system. Whatever the reason, voters should re-prioritize. Conservatives should move this issue to the forefront of the debates.

When the president is inaugurated in January 2017, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, widely thought to be in poor health, will be two months shy of her 84th birthday; Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Anthony Kennedy will be 80; and Justice Stephen Breyer will be 78. Is it reasonable to expect these justices to serve out four more years under another administration?

Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer are considered members of the left wing of the Court whereas Justice Scalia is considered to be on the right. Justice Kennedy is famously known as the Court’s “swing vote.”

If a Republican wins in 2016 election, he could replace two liberal members of the Court, leaving just two other remaining: Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan. If Justice Kennedy were also to step down during the next administration, a Republican president could further expand the conservative wing of the Court to seven, making room for a vast majority in contentious cases. If the right wing of the Court enjoyed a 7-2 majority today, for instance, there would be less media speculation about how the Court would decide cases on same-sex marriage, religious freedom, immigration, or campaign finance.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which conducts hearings on presidential nominees to the High Court, currently consists of 11 Republicans and 9 Democrats. Republicans hold a 54-member majority in the Senate, the governing body that confirms presidential nominees to the Court. If these numbers remain unchanged or only slightly changed under a Republican president, that president would have wide latitude to nominate candidates who have tested and principled commitments to conservatism.

Let’s say the presidential election favored a Democrat. A Democratic president could simply replace the departing Justice Ginsburg or Justice Breyer with a jurist in their mold, in effect filling a liberal seat with another liberal. If a Democratic president were up against a Republican Senate, however, his or her nominees would have to appear less liberal than Justice Ginsburg to ensure their confirmation.

Replacing Justice Scalia, arguably the most conservative justice on the Court, with a liberal would be transformative. Although depicted as an unpredictable moderate, Justice Kennedy was nominated by a Republican and more often than not votes with the right wing of the Court. Replacing him with a liberal justice would be a victory for the left. It is possible for the left wing of the Court to gain a 6-3 majority if a Democrat succeeds President Obama.

It’s not inconceivable that in the time he last left, President Obama could name at least one successor to the Court. Barring some unforeseen illness or act of God, however, that is unlikely to happen this late in his presidency. Justice Ginsburg insists on remaining on the Court, and Justice Breyer still has some healthy, productive years ahead of him.

Judges’ and justices’ judicial philosophies are not easily pressed into two sides—conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat—because law itself usually is not reducible to raw politics or naked partisanship, and a judge’s job entails more than interpreting the language of legislative enactments. Law deals with the complex interactions of people and institutions under disputed circumstances that are portrayed and recounted from different perspectives; therefore, law rarely fits cleanly within simplistic political frameworks.

For this reason, among others, it can be difficult to predict how potential justices will rule from the bench if they are installed on the Court. Chief Justice Earl Warren ushered in the progressive “Warren Court Era” even though he had served as the Republican Governor of California and, in 1948, as the vice-presidential running mate of presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey. More recently President George H.W. Bush nominated Justice David Souter to the Court. Justice Souter tended to vote consistently with the liberal members of the Court.

The Senate confirmation process has grown more contentious in recent years, and that has made it more difficult for another Souter to slip by the president. But it has also watered down our nominees, whose lack of a paper trail is considered a benefit rather than evidence of a lack of conviction or philosophical knowledge (lawyers are trained, not educated). It has come to a point where if you’re confirmable, you’re not reliable, and if you’re reliable, you’re not confirmable. Chief Justice John Roberts’ acrobatic attempt to uphold the individual mandate in Obamacare on the ground that it was a “tax” reveals just how squishy and unpredictable our justices have become.

There is, of course, the trouble with categorizing: What does it mean to be a “conservative” or a “liberal” judge or justice? Our presidential candidates may have different answers. In January Senator Paul declared himself a “judicial activist,” a label that is gaining favor among libertarians. He appears to have backed away from that position, recently bemoaning “out-of-control, unelected federal judges.” Activist judges, at any rate, can be on the right or the left.

Ted Cruz has not advertised his judicial philosophy yet, but by doing so he could set himself apart because of his vast legal experience, including his service as the Solicitor General of Texas. Two potential presidential nominees, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, are also attorneys, but Rubio’s legal experience, or non-experience, is subject to question, and Graham has been out of the legal field for some time—although he serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee and has intimate knowledge of the Senate confirmation prospects for potential nominees.

It matters a great deal what our presidential candidates believe about the hermeneutics and jurisprudence embraced by potential Supreme Court justices. In the coming months voters will have the power to force candidates to address their judicial philosophy. The candidates must articulate clearly, thoroughly, and honestly what qualities they admire in judges because those qualities might just shape the nation’s political landscape for decades to come.

Conservatives have much to lose or gain this election in terms of the judiciary. Supreme Court nominations should be a top priority for Republicans when debate season arrives.
Read more at http://spectator.org/articles/62383/issue-supreme-importance-2016

Es buena la Decimocuarta Enmienda?

In America, American History, Arts & Letters, Austrian Economics, Historicism, History, Humanities, Jurisprudence, Law, Liberalism, Libertarianism, Nineteenth-Century America, Philosophy, The Supreme Court on February 18, 2015 at 8:45 am

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El artículo original se encuentra aquí. Traducido del inglés por Mariano Bas Uribe.

Pocas cosas dividen a los libertarios como la Decimocuarta Enmienda de la Constitución de Estados Unidos. Gene Healy ha observado que “Liberales clásicos de buena fe se han encontrado en ambos lados de la discusión”.

Por un lado están los que alaban la enmienda por evitar el poder de los estados para prejuzgar, dirigir, regular o usar fuerza de cualquier tipo para imponer leyes discriminatorias sobre sus ciudadanos. Por el otro están los que, aunque reconozcan la naturaleza problemática de las malas conductas y los actos inmorales del estado, no están dispuestos a consentir la transferencia de poder de los estados al gobierno federal, y en particular al poder judicial federal.

La división se reduce a las visiones del federalismo, es decir, al equilibrio o separación de los gobiernos estatales y nacional.

Las secciones primera y quinta de la Decimocuarta Enmienda son las más polémicas. La Sección Uno incluya la Cláusula de Ciudadanía, la Cláusula de Privilegios o Inmunidades, la Cláusula de Proceso Debido y la Cláusula de Igual Protección y la Sección Cinco otorga al Congreso la autoridad para aplicar legislativamente la enmienda. Estas disposiciones han dado mayores poderes al gobierno nacional, permitiendo a los tribunales federales a hacer que los estados cumplan las leyes federales con respecto a ciertos derechos (o supuestos derechos) individuales.

El Tribunal Supremo de Estados Unidos, en Barron v. Baltimore (1833), sostuvo que la Declaración de Derechos (las primeras diez enmiendas a la Constitución de EEUU) obligaban solo al gobierno federal y no a los gobiernos estatales. Mediante la Decimocuarta Enmienda, que fue ratificada oficialmente en 1868, el Tribunal Supremo de Estados Unidos y los tribunales federales inferiores han “incorporado” gradualmente la mayoría de las disposiciones de la Declaración de Derechos para aplicarlas contra los estados. Así que el gobierno federal se ha empoderado para hacer que los gobiernos estatales cumplan disposiciones que originalmente solo pretendían restringir los abusos federales.

Si el gobierno federal fuera el único o el mejor mecanismo para reducir el tipo de discriminación y violaciones de derechos prohibidos por la Decimocuarta Enmienda, esta sería bienvenida y aceptada. Pero no es el único correctivo concebible y, aparte, ¿no es contraintuitivo para los libertarios aplaudir y defender un aumento tanto en el ámbito como en el grado del poder federal, incluso si ese poder, en algunas ocasiones, haya producidos resultados admirables?

En contextos no relacionados con la Decimocuarta Enmienda, casi nunca resulta polémico para los libertarios promover remedios no gubernamentales, locales o descentralizados, para leyes y prácticas injustas y discriminatorias. A menudo se alega que la industria y el comercio y la simple economía son mejores mecanismos para reducir el comportamiento discriminatorio, ya se base en raza, clase, sexo, género o lo que sea, que la fuerza del gobierno. Aun así, frecuentemente esos libertarios que hacen sonar las alarmas acerca de las aproximaciones gubernamental, federal y centralizada de la Decimocuarta Enmienda a las leyes y prácticas discriminatorias son tratados de forma poco sincera, en lugar de con argumentos, como defensores de aquellas leyes y prácticas, en lugar de como oponentes por principio de las reparaciones federales centralizadas para daños sociales.

Cualquier debate sobre la Decimocuarta Enmienda debe ocuparse de la validez de esta aprobación. Durante la Reconstrucción, la ratificación de la Decimocuarta Enmienda se convirtió en una condición previa para la readmisión en la Unión de los antiguos estados confederados. Healy ha llamado a esto “ratificación a punta de bayoneta”, porque, dice, “para acabar con el gobierno militar, se obligó a los estados sureños a ratificar la Decimocuarta Enmienda”. La condición natural de esta reunificación contradice la afirmación de que la Decimocuarta Enmienda fue ratificada por un pacto mutuo entre los estados.

Los jueces federales consideran irrelevante el propósito de la enmienda

En 1873, el juez Samuel F. Miller, junto con otros cuatro jueces, sostuvo que la Decimocuarta Enmienda protegía los privilegios e inmunidades de la ciudadanía nacional, no la estatal. El caso afectaba a regulaciones estatales de mataderos para ocuparse de las emergencias sanitarias que derivaban de sangre animal que se filtraba en el suministro de agua. El juez Miller opinaba que la Decimocuarta Enmienda estaba pensada para ocuparse de la discriminación racial contra los antiguos esclavos en lugar de para la regulación de los carniceros:

Al acabar la guerra [de Secesión], los que habían conseguido restablecer la autoridad del gobierno federal no se contentaron con permitir que esta gran ley de emancipación se basara en los resultados reales de la contienda o la proclamación del ejecutivo [la Declaración de Emancipación], ya que ambos podían ser cuestionados en tiempos posteriores, y determinaron poner estos resultado principal y más valioso en la Constitución de la unión restaurada como uno de sus artículos fundamentales.

Lo que dice el juez Miller es que el significado y propósito de la Decimocuarta Enmienda (proteger y preservar los derechos de los esclavos liberados) se desacredita cuando se usa para justificar la intervención federal en los asuntos económicos cotidianos de un sector estatal concreto. La regulación estatal de los mataderos de animales no es una opresión del mismo tipo o grado que la esclavitud de gente basada en su raza. Argumentar otra cosa es minimizar la gravedad de la ideología racista.

El juez Miller reconocía que la regulación estatal en cuestión era “denunciada no solo por crear un monopolio y conferir privilegios odiosos y exclusivos a un pequeño número de personas a costa de una buena parte de la comunidad de Nueva Orleáns”, la ciudad afectada por los mataderos en cuestión, sino asimismo como una privación del derechos de los carniceros a ejercitar su profesión. Sin embargo, el juez Miller no creía que el gobierno federal tuviera derecho bajo la Constitución a interferir con una autoridad que siempre se había concedido a gobiernos estatales y locales.

Habiendo establecido al alcance limitado de la cláusula de privilegios o inmunidades en los Casos de los mataderos, el Tribunal Supremo acudió posteriormente a la Cláusula de Igual Protección y la Cláusula del Proceso Debido para echar abajo leyes bajo la Decimocuarta Enmienda. Pero el Tribunal Supremo no se ha detenido ante las leyes estatales: ha usado la Cláusula de Igual Protección y la Cláusula del Proceso Debido como pretexto para regular a ciudadanos y empresas privadas. La Decimocuarta Enmienda, que pretendía reducir la discriminación, se ha usado, paradójicamente, para defender programas de acción afirmativa que discriminan a ciertas clases de personas.

Ceder el poder a los jueces federales no les predispone a la libertad. Como la Sección Cinco de la Decimocuarta Enmienda permite al Congreso aprobar enmiendas o leyes que traten de infracciones estatales a la libertad individual, no es necesario ni constitucionalmente sensato que el poder judicial federal asuma ese papel. Los miembros del Congreso, al contrario que los jueces federales que disfrutan del cargo vitaliciamente, son responsables ante los votantes en sus estados y por tanto es más probable que sufran por su infidelidad a la Constitución.

A nivel conceptual, además, parece extraño que los libertarios defiendan internamente lo que condenan en relaciones exteriores, a saber, la doctrina paternalista de que un gobierno central más poderoso tendría que usar su músculo para obligar a cumplir a unidades políticas más pequeñas.

El legado de la enmienda

¿Ha generado resultados constructivos la Decimocuarta Enmienda? En muchas áreas, sí. ¿Son deplorables algunas de las ideologías contra las que se ha dirigido? En muchos casos, sí. ¿Eran malas las normas contra el mestizaje, las normas de segregación escolar y las normas prohibiendo a los afro-americanos actuar como jurados? Sí, por supuesto. Sin embargo no se deduce que solo porque algunos casos bajo la Decimocuarta Enmienda hayan invalidado estas malas leyes, esta sea necesaria o incondicionalmente buena, especialmente a la vista de la pendiente resbaladiza de precedentes que con el tiempo distancian a las normas de su aplicación pretendida. “Si los tribunales empiezan a usar la Decimocuarta Enmienda para aplicar derechos naturales libertarios”, advierte Jacob Huebert en Libertarianism Today, “no sería más que un pequeño paso para que empezaran a usarla para aplicar derechos positivos no libertarios”.

Intelectuales de la izquierda como Erwin Chemerinsky, Charles Black, Peter Edelman y Frank Michelman han defendido la protección y aplicación de “derechos de subsistencia” bajo la Decimocuarta Enmienda. Estos incluirían los derechos a comida, atención sanitaria y salario mínimo proporcionados por el gobierno. Las leyes estatales que evitaran estos derechos (que no proporcionaran estas prestaciones sociales) se considerarían inconstitucionales; el ejecutivo federal aseguraría así que todo ciudadano de los estados transgresores reciba atención sanitaria, alimentos y una renta básica, todo subvencionado por los contribuyentes.

Estoy dispuesto a admitir no solo que en la práctica yo litigaría bajo las disposiciones de la Decimocuarta Enmienda para representar competente y éticamente a mi cliente (imaginar un sistema en el que el poder federal no esté tan atrincherado es inútil para litigantes en un sistema real en que el poder federal está profundamente arraigado), pero también que, en un mundo más ideal, podría haber otras formas menos deletéreas de luchar contra discriminación y violaciones de derechos que la Decimocuarta Enmienda. El taller de la actividad diaria no atiende abstracciones esperanzadas. No se puede deshacer un sistema de la noche a la mañana: los abogados deben actuar con las leyes que tienen disponibles y no pueden inventar otras nuevas para sus casos o agarrarse a una mera política. No si quieren tener éxito.

En ausencia de la Decimocuarta Enmienda, muchas personas y empresas con quejas válidas podrían no tener soluciones constitucionales. Sin embargo eso no significa que los términos y efectos de la Decimocuarta Enmienda sean incuestionablemente deseables o categóricamente buenos. Se pueden celebrar las victorias logradas mediante la Decimocuarta Enmienda mientras se reconoce que debe haber un modo mejor.

La Decimocuarta Enmienda no es en sí misma un bien positivo sino un animal peligroso a manejar con cuidado. Los libertarios como clase tienen una devoción manifiesta impropia a su funcionamiento. Necesitamos en su lugar un debate, abierto, honrado y colegiado acerca de los méritos y la función de esta enmienda, no sea que otras criaturas similares miren al futuro y a costa de nuestras amadas libertades.

 

Holmes and the Pragmatic Common Law

In America, American History, Arts & Letters, History, Humanities, Jurisprudence, Law, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Philosophy, Pragmatism, Scholarship, The Supreme Court on May 7, 2014 at 8:45 am

Allen 2

No summary could do justice to the wealth of literature about Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s relationship to C.S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey, but a few points of commonality are worth mentioning. First, Holmes was akin to Peirce in the embrace of fallibilism and the scientific method. Holmes disliked natural law thinkers because they purported to know the truth about the law by way of reason or moral teaching. In contrast, Holmes believed that the common law gradually filtered out the most workable, although not necessarily the most moral, theories; in fact, he felt that it was not the province, expertise, or training of the judge to explore issues of morality. He also believed that truth was best determined by a community of inquiring minds rather than by a judge ruling in isolation or by a justice with only eight colleagues to help work through his or her analysis. Therefore, he adhered to the doctrine of judicial restraint and deferred to statutes enacted by legislatures, which consisted of representatives elected by and accountable to the people.

Second, his notion of truth was like James’s: fluid but ultimately associated with the conglomerate views of a majority that have been tested and corroborated by concrete evidence. Holmes did not share James’s optimism, but he did share his literary sparkle. He also shared James’s meliorism and pluralism. The Common Law is a testament to the melioristic nature of the common law system. Holmes’s judicial restraint and deference to local legislatures, moreover, attest to his recognition of diverse local communities and associations that enable social cooperation and legal growth.

Third, Holmes’s celebration of the instrumentalism of the common law smacks of Dewey’s instrumentalism and its Darwinian complements. Like Dewey, Holmes moved pragmatism away from the science, logic, and mathematics that intrigued Peirce, away from the moral psychology and religious vibrancy that intrigued James, and towards the social and political considerations that intrigued Dewey. Holmes and Dewey were, to some degree, consequentialists; they cannot be made out as pure utilitarians—far from it—but their analyses do tend to focus on the importance of outcomes to the evaluation of human action. Finally, Holmes and Dewey emphasized the value of experiment and were majoritarian in that they maintained faith in the ability of distinct communities to arrive at unique solutions to pressing social issues and to memorialize those solutions in official legislation.

These three pragmatist influences enabled Holmes to create a theory of the common law unique to him that both accounted for and distanced itself from the legal positivism of John Austin and Hobbes, who traditionally have been thought of as adversaries of common law theory.

The Law is Above the Lawyers

In Arts & Letters, Book Reviews, Conservatism, Humanities, Jurisprudence, Law, Legal Research & Writing, Literary Theory & Criticism, The Supreme Court, Writing on October 3, 2012 at 8:45 am

Allen Mendenhall

This review appeared here in The American Spectator.

Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (Thomson West, 2012)

Do not let its girth fool you: Reading Law by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and legal writing guru Bryan A. Garner is an accessible and straightforward clarification of originalism and textualism.* A guide for the perplexed and a manual of sorts for judges, this book presents 57 canons of construction. Each canon is formatted as a rule — e.g., “When the syntax involves something other than a parallel series of nouns or verbs, a prepositive or postpositive modifier normally applies only to the nearest reasonable referent” — followed by a short explanation of the rule.

Frank H. Easterbrook, who provided the foreword to the book, submits that originalism is not about determining legislative intent, but construing legislative enactment. In other words, originalists interpret as strictly as possible the words of the particular text and do not look to the earlier maze of political compromises, equivocations, and platitudes that brought about the text. Each legislator has unique intent; projecting one person’s intent onto the whole legislative body generates a fiction of vast proportion.

That the process of enacting a law is so rigorous and convoluted suggests the importance of adhering closely to the express language of the law; legislators, after all, have taken into account the views of their constituents and advisors and have struggled with other legislators to reach a settlement that will please enough people to obtain a majority. A judge should trust that painstaking process and not overturn or disregard it.

Originalism involves what Stanley Fish, the eminent Milton scholar and literary critic turned law professor, has called “interpretive communities.” That is the very term Easterbrook employs to describe how judges should account for cultural and communal conventions at the time a text is produced: “Words don’t have intrinsic meanings; the significance of an expression depends on how the interpretive community alive at the time of the text’s adoption understood those words.”

To be sure, the original meaning of a text — what reasonable people living at the time and place of its adoption ordinarily would have understood it to mean — is never fully accessible. The meanings of old laws are particularly elusive. When a judge can no longer identify the context of a law by referring to dictionaries or legal treatises available when it was promulgated, then he should defer to the legislature to make the law clearer.

Judges should not impose their interpretative guesses onto the law and, hence, onto the people; nor should judges make new law on the mere supposition, however reasonable, that a text means something that it might not have meant when it was written. “Meaning” is itself a slippery signifier, and it is in some measure the aim of this book to simplify what is meant by “meaning.”

The book is not all about grammar, syntax, and punctuation. It has philosophical and political urgency. The authors propose that the legal system is in decline because of its infidelity to textual precision and scrupulous hermeneutics. A general neglect for interpretive exactitude and consistency has “impaired the predictability of legal dispositions, has led to unequal treatment of similarly situated litigants, has weakened our democratic processes, and has distorted our system of governmental checks and balances.” All of this has undermined public faith in lawyers and judges.

Scalia and Garner, who recently teamed up to write Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (Thomson West, 2009), proclaim themselves “textualists,” because they “look for meaning in the governing text, ascribe to that text the meaning that it has borne from its inception, and reject judicial speculation about both the drafters’ extratextually derived purposes and the desirability of the fair reading’s anticipated consequences.” Most of us, they say, are textualists in the broadest sense; the purest textualists, however, are those who commit themselves to finding accurate meanings for words and phrases without regard for the practical results.

Consequences are the province of legislators. A judge ought to be a linguist and lexicographer rather than a legislator; he or she must be faithful to texts, not accountable to the people as are elected officials. (Leaving aside the issue of elected judges at the state level.) The authors seem to be suggesting that their approach needn’t be controversial. Originalism and textualism are simply names for meticulous interpretive schemes that could lead judges to decisions reflecting either conservative orliberal outcomes. One doesn’t need to be a fan of Scalia to appreciate the hermeneutics in this treatise.

Never have we seen a plainer, more complete expression of originalism or textualism. Reading Law could become a landmark of American jurisprudence, numbered among such tomes as James Kent’s Commentaries on American Law, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s The Common Law, H.L.A. Hart’s The Concept of Law, and Lon L. Fuller’s The Morality of Law. Although different from these works in important ways, Reading Law is equally ambitious and perhaps even more useful for the legal community, especially on account of its sizable glossary of terms, extensive table of cases, impressive bibliography, and thorough index.

Every judge should read this book; every lawyer who cares about law in the grand sense — who takes the time to consider the nature of law, its purpose and role as a social institution, and its historical development — should read this book as well. If Scalia and Garner are correct that the general public no longer respects the institutions of law, then this book is valuable not only for revealing the root causes, but also for recommending realistic and systematic solutions.


* Originalism and textualism are not the same thing; this review treats them as interchangeable only because Judge Easterbrook’s forward uses the term “originalism” whereas Scalia and Garner use the term “textualism,” but each author appears to refer to the same interpretive approach.

The Emersonian Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

In American History, Art, Arts & Letters, Emerson, History, Humanities, Jurisprudence, Law, Law-and-Literature, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, Nineteenth-Century America, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Philosophy, Poetry, Pragmatism, Rhetoric, The Supreme Court, Western Civilization, Western Philosophy, Writing on October 26, 2011 at 9:16 am

Allen Mendenhall

Writers on Holmes have forgotten just how influential poetry and literature were to him, and how powerfully literary his Supreme Court dissents really are.  The son of the illustrious poet by the same name, young Holmes, or Wendell, fell in love with the heroic tales of Sir Walter Scott, and the “enthusiasm with which Holmes in boyhood lost himself in the world of Walter Scott did not diminish in maturity.”[1]  Wendell was able to marry his skepticism with his romanticism, and this marriage, however improbable, illuminated his appreciation for ideas past and present, old and new.  “His aesthetic judgment,” says Mark DeWolfe Howe, author of the most definitive biography of Holmes and one of Holmes’s former law clerks, “was responsive to older modes of expression and earlier moods of feeling than those which were dominant at the fin de siècle and later, yet his mind found its principle nourishment in the thought of his own times, and was generally impatient of those who believe that yesterday’s insight is adequate for the needs of today.”[2]  Holmes transformed and adapted the ideas of his predecessors while transforming and adapting—one might say troping—milestone antecedents of aestheticism, most notably the works of Emerson.  “[I]t is clear,” says Louis Menand, “that Holmes had adopted Emerson as his special inspiration.”[3]      

Classically educated at the best schools, Wendell was subject to his father’s elaborate discussions of aesthetics, which reinforced the “canons of taste with the heavier artillery of morals.”[4]  In addition to Scott, Wendell enjoyed reading Sylvanus Cobb, Charles Lamb’s Dramatic Poets, The Prometheus of Aeschylus,[5] and Plato’s Dialogues.[6]  Wendell expressed a lifelong interest in art, and his drawings as a young man exhibit a “considerable talent.”[7]  He declared in his Address to the Harvard Alumni Association Class of 1861 that life “is painting a picture, not doing a sum.”[8]  He would later use art to clarify his philosophy to a friend: “But all the use of life is in specific solutions—which cannot be reached through generalities any more than a picture can be painted by knowing some rules of method.  They are reached by insight, tact and specific knowledge.”[9]     

At Harvard College, Wendell began to apply his facility with language to oft-discussed publications in and around Cambridge.  In 1858, the same year that Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. gifted five volumes of Emerson to Wendell,[10] Wendell published an essay called “Books” in the Harvard undergraduate literary journal.[11]  Wendell celebrated Emerson in the piece, saying that Emerson had “set him on fire.”  Menand calls this essay “an Emersonian tribute to Emerson.”[12] 

Holmes had always admired Emerson.  Legend has it that, when still a boy, Holmes ran into Emerson on the street and said, in no uncertain terms, “If I do anything, I shall owe a great deal to you.”  Holmes was more right than he probably knew. 

Holmes, who never gave himself over to ontological (or deontological) ideas about law as an existent, material, absolute, or discoverable phenomenon, bloomed and blossomed out of Emersonian thought, which sought to “unsettle all things”[13] and which offered a poetics of transition that was “not a set of ideas or concepts but rather a general attitude toward ideas and concepts.”[14]  Transition is not the same thing as transformation.  Transition signifies a move between two clear states whereas transformation covers a broader and more fluent way of thinking about change.  Holmes, although transitional, was also transformational.  He revised American jurisprudence until it became something it previously was not.  Feeding Holmes’s appetite for change was “dissatisfaction with all definite, definitive formulations, be they concepts, metaphors, or larger formal structures.”[15]  This dissatisfaction would seem to entail a rejection of truth, but Emerson and Holmes, unlike Rorty and the neopragmatists much later, did not explode “truth” as a meaningful category of discourse.  Read the rest of this entry »

Law & Literature: A Basic Bibliography

In American History, Arts & Letters, Law-and-Literature, Legal Education & Pedagogy, Literary Theory & Criticism, Nineteenth-Century America, Novels, Pedagogy, Politics, Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Communication, Semiotics, Slavery, The Literary Table, The Supreme Court, Western Civilization on April 2, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Patrick S. O’Donnell compiled this bibliography in 2010.  He teaches philosophy at Santa Barbara City College in California.  This bibliography first appeared over at The Literary Table

Amsterdam, Anthony G. and Jerome Bruner. Minding the Law. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Atkinson, Logan and Diana Majury, eds. Law, Mystery, and the Humanities: Collected Essays. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008.

Ball, Milner S. The Word and the Law. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Bergman, Paul and Michael Asimow. Reel Justice: The Courtroom Goes to the Movies.  Kansas  City, MO: Andrew McMeels Publ., revised ed., 2006.

Best, Stephen M. The Fugitive’s Properties: Law and the Poetics of Possession. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Binder, Guyora and Robert Weisburg. Literary Criticisms of Law. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Biressi, Anita. Crime, Fear and the Law in True Crime Stories. New York: Palgrave, 2001.

Black, David A. Law in Film: Resonance and Representation. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1999.

Brooks, Peter. Troubling Confessions: Speaking Guilt in Law and Literature. Chicago, IL: University of  Chicago Press, 2001.

Brooks, Peter and Paul Gewirtz, eds. Law’s Stories: Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998 ed. Read the rest of this entry »

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