August 28, 2014

Call For Papers: Special Issue of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law

From Anne Wagner at the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law:

Expert in Legal Semiotics and Communication, Associate Professor
You are invited to contribute a paper to a special issue of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (IJSL) in English, Guest edited by Rafat Y. Alwazna. The special issue will be devoted to deal with issues related to Islamic Law. The themes of the issue include, but are not limited to the following:

• The translatability of Islamic Law
• The linguistic aspects of Islamic texts
• Terms and concepts peculiar to Islamic Law
• Differences in the interpretation of meanings and concepts among the four Sunni Schools of Law
• Legal reasoning within the realm of Islamic Law
• Islamic culture and its influence on Islamic legal rulings

Paper abstracts should be up to 200 words, and full papers should not exceed 15,000 words. All paper abstracts should be sent to

Important Dates:

Deadline for paper abstract submission is 1-10-2014.
Notification of abstract acceptance is 1-11-2014.
Deadline for full paper submission is 1-5-2015.
The special issue is expected to be published in 2015-2016.

For more information about the IJSL, please visit:

Queer Objects: A Symposium With Robyn Wiegman and Annamarie Jagose

From the Australian National University, announcement of a forthcoming Symposium:
‘The rejection of essentialism,’ David Halperin writes in How to be Gay (2012), ‘did not prevent the original founders of queer theory from asking “What do Queers want?”’. In her Object Lessons (2012), Robyn Wiegman explores the political and institutional effects of scholarly attachments to objects of knowledge. Queer theory is, for Wiegman, one of several ‘identity knowledges’ that share a commitment to social justice and that can teach us lessons about what and how we want.
More than two decades after queer theory’s emergence, presenters at this symposium are invited to engage with queer as an objectand with the object lessons of queer theory.
• Camp objects and aesthetics
• Screens and closets
• Queer knowledge: secrets and revelations
• Queer archives and ephemera
• Queer bodies and voices
• Antinormativity
• Queer as death drive / form of life.
For further information and to register your attendance please contact symposium convenor Monique Rooney:

August 26, 2014

ABA Journal Cartoon Caption Contest Open

The ABA Journal is running its September cartoon captioning contest. Submit your caption by September 14, 2014 and receive the title of Champion (for a month at least). See last month's winner here.

The Supreme Court Justice League of America

Per Steve Klepper of Balti­more's Kramon & Graham for the National Law Journal. (Requires subscription to view the entire SC effect). See more of Mr. Klepper's Supreme Court judicial action heroes here at the Maryland Appellate Blog.

August 25, 2014

Register Now For John Jay MOOC On Literature and Law of American Slavery

Registration is now open for John Jay College of Criminal Justice's MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on the Literature and Law of American Slavery. It is the first ever such course offered. It begins September 30, 2014 and lasts for eight weeks. Distinguished Professor of English John Matteson, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Biography for his book, Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, designed the curriculum and will lead the course instruction. More here at John Jay's webpage. 

August 18, 2014

Early Modern Ideas of Legal Pluralism

Richard J. Ross, University of Illinois College of Law & University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Department of History, and Philip J. Stern, Duke University Department of History, have published Reconstructing Early Modern Notions of Legal Pluralism in Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850 109-141 (Lauren Benton and Richard J. Ross, eds.; New York: New York University Press, 2013).

Legal pluralism occurs when two or more legal orders exert control within a given territory or over a particular social group and yet are not part of a single hierarchical “system” under a coordinating authority. Most historical scholarship on legal pluralism concentrates on its shifting structures in local contexts and on its political and economic implications. By contrast, our essay probes historical actors’ uses of political and religious thought to justify or undermine plural legal regimes in the late sixteenth through early eighteenth centuries. Historians of early modern political thought preoccupied with the rise of the modern state have lavished attention on ‘centralizing’ discourses, particularly theorists such as Bodin, Hobbes, and Pufendorf represented as champions of sovereignty. Against this tendency, we emphasize how ideological support for plural legal orders could be found in a wide range of intellectual projects. These ranged from debates over the right of resistance and the divine right of rulers, through historical work on the ancient Jewish commonwealth and theological disputes over which precepts “bound conscience,” and finally to writings on political economy and the place of family.

Social scientific and jurisprudential work on legal pluralism has focused a set of canonical problems. Should we focus on jurisdictional or normative accounts of pluralism? How can we distinguish the “legal” from the “non-legal,” a dispute that centers on whether to include in pluralist models the norms of families and civil society organizations? How can we model the complex dialectic relation of state and nonstate systems of order? To the extent that this work relies on a historical account spanning the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries, it assumes that a once rich medieval legal pluralism withered as European statebuilding consolidated crown control of law with the ideological support of theories of sovereignty. The intellectual foundation for — if not the practice of — legal centralism arose in this period. The frequent invocation of Bodin, Suarez, Grotius, Hobbes, and Pufendorf as the founding theorists of sovereignty and legal centralism creates the impression that pluralistic thinking was impoverished or on the wane. The central ambition of our article is to provide an alternative historical genealogy for legal scholars of pluralism. Workaday legal pluralism did not struggle against a predominantly hostile intellectual climate. Many discourses supported pluralism. And the most emphatic theorists of a powerful singular sovereign were often responding to intellectual projects that valorized pluralism.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link. 

August 15, 2014

New Issue of Law and Humanities Now Available

The June 2014 issue (volume 8, no. 1) of Law and Humanities is now available. Here is the table of contents.

Gary Watt, Editorial  at iii.

Ronnie Lippens, The Light of High Modern Discipline: Viewing the Birth, Life and Death of the Disciplinary Society in William Hogarth, Joseph wright of Derby and Edward Hopper  at 1-18.

Barbara J. Shapiro, 'Beyond Reasonable Doubt': The Neglected Eighteenth-Century Context  at 19-52.

Paul Raffield, The Trials of Shakespeare: Courtroom Drama and Early Modern English Law, at 53-76

Desmond Manderson, AD 2014: A Review of Eve Darian-Smith: Laws and Societies in Global Contexts--Contemporary Approaches, at 77-87. 

Leslie J. Moran, Visual Law: A Review of Lief Dahlberg, ed.: Visualising Law and Authority: Essays on Legal Aesthetics, at 88-95.

Ian Ward, Impressions of Bagehot: A Review of Frank Prochaska: The Memoirs of Walter Bagehot (Yale University Press, 2013), at 96-103

Gary Watt, Creative Voices--Student Writing in Law and Literature at 104-110

Sean Mulcahy, Can a Literary Approach to Matters of Legal Concern Offer a Fairer Hearing than that Typically Offered by the Law? at 111-135.

Paul Raffield, Student Lawyer-Playwrights and the Theatre of Law, at 136-145.

Call For Papers: U.S. Feminist Judgments Project

From Bridget Crawford, Pace Law School, comes this Call for Papers:
The U.S. Feminist Judgments Project seeks contributors of revised opinions and commentary for an edited collection entitled Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court. This edited volume is a collaborative project among feminist law professors and others to rewrite, from a feminist perspective, key Supreme Court decisions relevant to gender issues. Editors Kathy Stanchi, Linda Berger and Bridget Crawford seek prospective authors for 20 to 25 rewritten Supreme Court opinions covering a range of topics including reproductive rights, equal protection, the state’s use of criminal power, privacy, the family, women’s political participation, Title IX, employment discrimination and substantive due process. The editors also seek authors for commentaries of 1,500 to 2,500 words to put into context each of the rewritten cases.
The U.S. Feminist Judgments project was inspired by the successful collection and publication in Britain of Feminist Judgments: From Theory to Practice, edited by Rosemary Hunter, Clare McGlynn, and Erika Rackley. This volume, which included feminist versions of twenty-three key British decisions from the Court of Appeal and House of Lords, was published in 2010 and has been very well received. Like the sister project in Britain, the U.S. Feminist Judgments Project endeavors to pioneer “a new form of critical socio-legal scholarship” that illustrates how cases could have been decided differently had a feminist method been employed. We believe that U.S. Supreme Court law is ripe for this kind of scholarly treatment.
Those who are interested in rewriting an opinion or providing the commentary on one of the rewritten opinions should fill out an application here:
Applications are due by September 15, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. eastern. Editors will notify accepted authors and commentators by October 7, 2014. First drafts of rewritten opinions will be due on February 1, 2015. First drafts of comments on the rewritten opinions will be due on March 15, 2015. The editors are in the process of identifying a publisher; publication of the final volume is anticipated for late 2015.
A list of cases tentatively scheduled for rewriting is available here:
Applicants may indicate their preferences among the list of cases. Applicants also may suggest other cases for rewriting. The tentative cases were chosen with the input and advice of an Advisory Panel of distinguished U.S. scholars including Kathryn Abrams, Katharine Bartlett, Devon Carbado, Mary Anne Case, Erwin Chemerinsky, April Cherry, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Martha Fineman, Margaret Johnson, Sonia Katyal, Nancy Leong, Catharine MacKinnon, Rachel Moran, Melissa Murray, Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Nancy Polikoff, Dorothy Roberts, Dan Rodriguez, Susan Ross, Vicki Schultz, Dean Spade, Robin West, and Verna Williams.

August 4, 2014

Law, Race, and Place

Mae Kuykendall, Michigan State University College of Law, has published Restatement of Place in volume 79 of the Brooklyn Law Review (2014). Here is the abstract.

Images and intuitions of place are ubiquitous in human thought. Dominion over place is one of the first anchors of the conception of law, providing a rationale for sovereign control over defined land boundaries. Place is also embedded in attempts to define rights and regulate conduct. For example, in slave times in the United States, the rights of masters and the duties of slaves were conceived within an assumption of proximity, duties of obedience, and a return consideration of paternalism and care. At the same time, slaves’ bodies became a tradable commodity and their labor an input into commodity pricing on international markets, thereby combining a place-anchored rationale in the governing legal rationalization with faceless commerce across borders in human bodies and forced labor. Ideas about place have increased in visibility in the regulation of the female body, with attempts to map the body and demarcate permissible, or public and observable parts of the body fairly subject to control over a place. With the increased mobility of people, both en masse and using modern travel for individual transit, and with the arrival of cyber reality, the importance of place is in transition. At the same time, place has mystical meanings, manifested in the impulse to claim as sacred sites of death by accident or by mass destruction. The demand is expressed by improvised memorials such as roadside crosses and formal designations of a site such as the World Trade Center for commemoration as well as commerce. Law must mediate the competing interests implicated by differing views of the social needs affecting such sites. This Article explores these and other contexts for the uncertain moral weight in law of place as a guiding factor for rules and decisions. Place has no overarching theory in law. In light of its many contexts, place is a complex and subtle factor in law. The task of fashioning a Restatement of Place across many dimensions is by no means patently manageable, but a sustained effort should bear fruit. The ambiguities in our collective understanding of place as an orienting feature of our legally relevant interactions merit close study, organizing theory, and reformist efforts.

Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

A Playwright's Thomas Jefferson

Mae Kuykendall, Michigan State University College of Law, has published Sandra Seaton's 'A Bed Made in Heaven'; Family, Race, and Law in Nineteenth-Century America in volume 41 of Midwestern Miscellany (2014). Here is the abstract.

This essay seeks to enter into the imaginative understanding created by playwright Sandra Seaton in 'A Bed Made in Heaven', her play about Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the familial setting they shared with his children from his marriage with the deceased Martha Jefferson and Hemings’s blood relatives, especially her mother Elizabeth Hemings. Because Seaton creates a portrait of family connection, with foibles, outside pressures, and resentments, she allows a generous reading of Jefferson as a person. In her rendering, he is a man divided between deep loyalty to a family yet unwilling to defy the political force of public opinion. She presents his family debates, in which he asks family members to accept outside forces and insult as a given in their lives and to accept his split between his intimate racial ties and his public support for racist ideas and laws. The result is a generous reading of one family bond. The play does not offer a morally fraught, political and historical assessment of Jefferson as a bad or a good man. Rather, it traces the complex familial history of Americans living today in the legacy of unreadable connections across the pre-Civil War racial divide, many (most) made only of brutality, some of family compromise in a setting that implicates a member in injustice, and all clouded by the enslavement of women family members. Seaton strives to capture the family complexity in the close quarters of Monticello, a home crowded with memories, resentments, and clashing needs and pretensions.

Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

Law and Hispanic Literature: A New Publication

Our friend José Calvo González of the University of Malaga Faculty of Law tells us of the publication of
Derecho y Literatura Hispánica, a special issue of the journal Studi ispanici  for 2014. Professor Calvo is the editor of this 368 page issue which includes the very interesting contents listed below.

José Calvo González
Presentación, pp. 11-20
Jesús Rodríguez-Velasco
Voz Muerta. Poética social y retóricas notariales en las Siete Partidas, pp. 21-40
Maximiliano A. Soler Bistué
A viva voz. La fuerza jurídica del relato en la fazaña castellana bajomedieval, pp. 41-50
Jennifer Darrell
«Contaré un caso»: la justicia y el poder en Lazarillo de Tormes, pp. 51-68
Luis Galván Moreno
La justicia en algunos autos bíblicos de Calderón, pp. 69-80
Antonio Barnés Vázquez
Don Quijote y Preciosa ante lo justo, pp. : 81-90
María Pilar García Negro
Iusfeminismo de Rosalía de Castro como refundación de la Auctoritas: autor, autoría, autoridad, pp. 91-100
Cristina Monereo Atienza
Cuestión social y derechos de la mujer en La esfinge maragata, de Concha Espina, pp. 101-116
Juan Antonio García Amado
Sobre las paradojas inmanentes a todo Derecho. A propósito del cuento La Ley, de Max Aub
pp. 117-128


José Calvo González
Los espectros de Dreyfus en Darío: del non-engagement al non-alignement, en epílogo, pp. 129-148
Carmelo Delgado Cintrón
Dominación colonial y expresión literaria: desde Aleluyas hasta Seva, pp. 149-172
Daniel Rojas Pachas
Ejercicio del poder como arquitectura carcelaria en El Señor Presidente y Arturo, la estrella más brillante, pp. 173-186
Felipe Navarro Martínez
El infierno tan temido y los círculos de la verdad, pp. 187-198 (12)
Roberto González Echevarría
El derecho romano en la constitución de Macondo, pp. 199-214
Peter Popp
Para una lectura jurídico-literaria de Crónica de una muerte anunciada desde la responsabilidad individual y colectiva, pp. 215-230
Daniel J. García López
Los espacios de la norma y los monstruos de Copi, pp. 231-248
Carlos Fradique-Méndez
Casos jurídicos en las "Niñas tristes", pp. 249-264
Felipe Fucito
La pregunta de sus ojos: una concepción del imaginario jurídico, pp. 265-248
Jaime Francisco Coaguila Valdivia
Tramas de violencia en Abril Rojo, de Santiago Roncagliolo, pp. 285-294
Carlos Ramos Núñez
La justicia y los jueces en el Sueño del celta de Mario Vargas Llosa, pp. 295-313


Juan López de Cuéllar y Vega
Declamación histórica y jurídica en defensa de la poesía, pp. 314-336
José Calvo González
Derecho poético en Rosalía de Castro: Vae Victis (Selbstjustiz), pp. 337-340
Claudio Antonio Castañeda, Manuel de J. Jiménez
Sobre la Iuspoética, pp. 341-354

See Walter Run

Scott Shimick, SUNY, Geneseo, is publishing Heisenberg's Uncertainty: An Analysis of Criminal Tax Pretextual Prosecutions in the Context of Breaking Bad's Notorious Anti-Hero, in the Tulsa Law Review. Here is the abstract. 

Commentators have roundly criticized pretextual prosecutions, such as prosecuting Al Capone for tax evasion rather than bootlegging, arguing that the government should minimize the use of pretextual prosecutions. However, pretextual prosecutions serve as a valuable tool for law enforcement.
In Breaking Bad, Walter White becomes a violent criminal who produces and sells narcotics. Throughout the series, he is very careful to conceal or destroy any evidence linking him to the violence and drug trafficking. However, as the bootleggers and gangsters of the Prohibition-era learned, the government holds the trump card, criminal tax prosecution. By charging drug traffickers with criminal tax fraud, the government can imprison dangerous criminals without having to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drug traffickers actually produced and sold narcotics. This article examines criminal tax fraud statutes and methods of proof, analyzing these statutes and methods in the context of whether Walter White should have fled from prosecution. Through this analysis, this article demonstrates the value of pretextual criminal tax fraud prosecutions.

Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

Call For Panel and Paper Proposals, Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities, 18th Annual Meeting

The Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities will hold its Eighteenth Annual Meeting at the Georgetown University Law Center, March 6-7, 2015. 
Panel and paper proposals are due Wednesday, October 15th, 2014. 
Below is a description of the call for papers and proposals, a statement of the Association's mission, and information on registration from ASLCH President James Martel.
The Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities is an organization of scholars engaged in interdisciplinary, humanistically-oriented legal scholarship. The Association brings together a wide range of people engaged in scholarship on legal history, legal theory and jurisprudence, law and cultural studies, law and anthropology, law and literature, law and the performing arts, and legal hermeneutics. We want to encourage dialogue across and among these fields about issues of interpretation, identity, and values, about authority, obligation, and justice, and about law's role as a constituent part of cultures and communities.
This year, the Association will not have a specific conference theme in order to encourage the broadest range of participation possible.  The Program Committee believes that the diversity of the Association's members is its strength and that the themes that emerge from the conference should arise organically from the various interests of the members, without an overarching subject-matter directive.  Accordingly, we encourage proposals of panels or papers around any of the broad themes that engage with law, culture, and the humanities.  Examples of types of sessions the conference has featured in the past include:
History, Memory and Law; Reading Race; Law and Literature; Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism; Speech, Silence, and the Language of Law; Judgment, Justice, and Law; Beyond Identity; The Idea of Practice in Legal Thought; Metaphor and Meaning; Representing Legality in Film and Mass Media; Anarchy, Liberty and Law; What is Excellence in Interpretation?; Ethics, Religion, and Law; Moral Obligation and Legal Life; The Post-Colonial in Literary and Legal Study; Processes and Possibilities in Interdisciplinary Law Teaching.
However, these should be viewed as examples only.  Any proposals that interrogate law as a cultural form or view law through the lens of the humanities are welcomed.  We urge those interested in attending to consider submitting complete panels, and we hope to encourage a variety of formats, including roundtables, sessions at which everyone reads the papers in advance, sessions in which commentators respond to a single paper, and so on. We also invite proposals for sessions in which the focus is on pedagogy or methodology, for author-meets-readers sessions organized around important books in the field, or for sessions in which participants focus on performance (theatrical, filmic, musical, poetic).
How to register:ASLCH uses a two part registration system (this will all be explained in detail on the website). First you register your paper or panel and pay a $35 membership fee. This should be done by October 15th, 2014, assuming your paper or panel is accepted, you go back to the same website (an email will be sent on that day to remind you) and pay the conference fee. All panelists will be notified about their acceptance before the new year.
Here is the link to register: 

Registration Open for Central States Law Schools Association 2014 Scholarship Conference, October 2014

Registration is now open for the Central States Law Schools Association 2014 Scholarship Conference, which will be held on Friday, October 10 and Saturday, October 11 at the Louisiana State University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We invite law faculty from across the country to submit proposals to present papers or works in progress. Here is a link to the registration page.

CSLSA is an organization of law schools dedicated to providing a forum for conversation and collaboration among law school academics. The CSLSA Annual Conference is an opportunity for legal scholars, especially more junior scholars, to present working papers or finished articles on any law-related topic in a relaxed and supportive setting where junior and senior scholars from various disciplines are available to comment. More mature scholars have an opportunity to test new ideas in a less formal setting than is generally available for their work. Scholars from member and nonmember schools are invited to attend. 

July 29, 2014

Calling Saul

Breaking Bad's spin-off series, Better Call Saul,will have a delayed premiere date, but not because of network questions about its viability. Instead, its creators are taking additional steps to make certain the show maintains production values. And it already has a green light for a second season.

Meanwhile, Albuquerque, NM, residents can call Saul if they have issues with the cops. His billboard is up in the area (with a lovely photo of series star Bob Odenkirk in the role of "Jimmy McGill," his new name in the show). Or they (and you) can check out his website here (as Saul).

I don't think Saul is the first TV lawyer to have his own website. Ally McBeal's firm Cage & Fish had a website when that show was up and running on Fox; I have been unable to find it on the web, however. Maybe some kind reader will be able to send me a working link.

Better Call Saul will air beginning in early January, 2015, on AMC.

July 26, 2014

His Final Bow

PBS will begin airing the last season's adaptations of Agatha Christie's Poirot novels on July 27. After a quarter of a century, we will say adieu to our old friends Poirot, Hastings, Miss Lemon, and Superintendent Japp. While PBS will not offer the final episode, "Curtain," in which Poirot solves the ultimate case of his career, you can see it as well as all the others at (subscription required). The episodes will be released on DVD later this year.

July 23, 2014

A Comic Book Nice Guy Dies Saving A Friend: Life, Death, and Archie Andrews

Archie Andrews, the lovable character familiar to many from the "Archie" comics, meets his end in today's installment of Life With Archie, when he saves the life of his friend Kevin Keller. Kevin is a veteran opposed to gun violence who is targeted by a stalker; Archie intervenes, and dies as a result. More here in an article by Derrik J. Lang.

More coverage here from the Long Beach Press-Telegram, an opinion piece here from Ana Veciana Suarez of the Miami Herald.

Preliminary CFP for the Law, Literature, and the Humanities Association of Australasia December 2015 Conference

Preliminary call for papers for the December 9-12 2015 conference on "Complicity" at the University of Technology Sydney Law School, sponsored by the Law, Literature, and the Humanities Association of Australasia.

Organizers will post a full CFP later in the year.

Asssessing Law and Religion Scholarship Over the Past Quarter Century

Marie A. Failinger, Hamline University School of Law, has published Twenty-Five Years of Law and Religion Scholarship: Some Reflections at 30 Touro Law Review 9 (2014). Here is the abstract.

In this address, the author describes some of the significant movements in law and religion scholarship over the past twenty-five years, including the dialogue between traditional church-state and international human rights scholars and outside scholars, including those writing from within American minority faith traditions.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

Women's Inheritance Rights In the Early Republic

Jeffrey K. Sawyer, University of Baltimore, School of Law, has published Women, Law, and the Pursuit of Happiness in Early Harford County, as Harford Historical Bulletin, Number 81, at p. 3. Here is the abstract.

Martha Griffith filed suit in 1794 against the executors of her late husband's estate. His will had left her a large, waterfront plantation on Swan Creek for the remainder of her life, but she wanted more. The suit demanded a large share of the family's working capital, specifically, livestock, supplies, farm equipment, and the slave labor force that made plantations prosperous in those times. The people and property involved in this case were for the most part members of a closely knit Harford County community, but the legal battle and its outcome had some larger implications.
The decision in Griffith v. Griffith's Executors, rendered by the General Court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals, constitutes a significant piece of the legal history of early America. First, it re-established the undisputed rights of Maryland widows to a share of both the real and personal property of their deceased husbands. Second, it forced leading judges and lawyers in Maryland to undertake a deep historical and logical analysis of the authority of British legal precedents. What law would apply in cases where post-Revolutionary Maryland legislation was unclear? Third, the judgment silently affirmed that slaves in Maryland fell under the regime of personal property with respect to inheritance.
The events surrounding the suit are particularly revealing of how law in action affected women with respect to inheritance and property. Despite many inequalities that affected women under the old common law in early Maryland, women had a dear legal right to own property and to use the courts of law to secure their rights, A widow's right to a reasonable share of her husband's property extended back into Anglo-Saxon times, and was one of the guarantees written into the Magna Carta. "Dower" is the old common law name for a widow's share. Customarily dower consisted of the use of and profit from one third of the deceased husband's real estate for the widow's lifetime, and one third of his personal estate after his debts were paid, But dower could also be fixed by a formal agreement.

Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

What We Talk About When We Talk About Poverty: Racialized Metaphors and Anti-Poverty Programs

Ann Cammett, CUNY School of Law, has published Deadbeat Dads & Welfare Queens: How Metaphor Shapes Poverty Law at 34 Boston College Journal of Law and Social Justice 233 (2014). Here is the abstract.
Since the 1960s, racialized metaphors describing dysfunctional parents have been deployed by conservative policymakers to shape the way that the public views anti-poverty programs. The merging of race and welfare has eroded support for a robust social safety net, despite growing poverty and economic inequality throughout the land. This Article begins by describing the influence that metaphors have on the way people unconsciously perceive reality. It proceeds by examining historical racial tropes for Black families and how they were repurposed to create the Welfare Queen and Deadbeat Dad, the metaphorical villains of welfare programs. It also tracks the demise of welfare entitlements and the simultaneous ascendency of punitive child support enforcement intended to penalize both “absent” parents and families with non-normative structures. Ultimately, this Article argues that the focus on demonizing Black parents in the welfare system has created an obstacle to providing necessary resources to alleviate the suffering of a growing number of poor children of all races, the intended beneficiaries of public assistance.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

Rhetoric and Visualization In Brief Writing

Michael D. Murray, Valparaiso University Law School,  has published Visual Rhetoric and Storytelling in Five Sections of a Brief. Here is the abstract.

The rhetoric of visualization is critical to client-centered legal practice. Visualization through storytelling connects all subject areas in the law and extends far beyond the law to disciplines as varied as cognitive studies, brain science, and rhetoric and persuasion. Visual rhetoric is a growing topic of discussion and scholarship in the legal writing academy, as scholars and practitioners explore the potential of images as cognitive, communicative, and persuasive devices. Lawyers use stories and visual images and structures as framing devices, organizational schema, and persuasive rhetorical methods to communicate the context and meaning of a client’s situation and to improve the communication, reception, and understanding of legal argument with a given audience. Most legal writing and advocacy study has focused on the facts section for narrativity and storytelling, while visual rhetoric has focused on the argument section. This presentation will examine the use of client-centered narrative reasoning and visual rhetoric in five sections of trial level and appellate legal briefs: questions presented; introduction or summary of the argument; statement of facts or statement of the case; explanation sections of the argument; and application sections of the argument.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link. 

July 22, 2014

Mill and Porn

Clare McGlynn, Durham Law School, and Ian Ward, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, are publishing Would John Stuart Mill Have Regulated Pornography? in the Journal of Law and Society (2014). Here is the abstract.

John Stuart Mill dominates contemporary pornography debates where he is routinely invoked as an authoritative defence against regulation. This article, by contrast, argues that a broader understanding of Mill’s ethical liberalism, his utilitarianism and his feminism casts doubt over such an assumption. New insights into Mill’s thinking on sex, sexual activity and on the regulation of prostitution, reveal an altogether more nuanced and activist approach. In this light, we argue that John Stuart Mill would almost certainly have recommended the regulation of some forms of pornography.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

July 21, 2014

Call For Papers: Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law

From Marco Wan, Associate Professor of Law, University of Hong Kong, comes this call for papers for the Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law.

Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law


Call for Papers 2014-2015

Established in 2000, the Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law has become the leading law journal on human rights in Asia. It has published influential articles on important human rights issues occurring in most Asia-Pacific jurisdictions, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, East Timor, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Fiji, Vietnam, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the ASEAN. Prominent contributing authors include Yash Ghai, Michael Kirby, Jeremy Sarkin, Victor Ramraj, Kam C Wong, Xia Chunli, Rhona Smith, and the Journal’s founder, Fernard de Var.

Finding a new home at The University of Hong Kong in 2013, the Journal continues to play its leading role in publishing new human rights law scholarship concerning, or of interest to, Asia-Pacific jurisdictions, especially those not already mentioned above. In 2014, a special focus section will be devoted to the Commission of Inquiry’s report on human rights in North Korea.

Submission instructions. We publish both short and longer pieces but normally not longer than 20,000 words (inclusive of footnotes). Please follow the OSCOLA (4th edn) standard for the citation of legal authorities. 

Email papers to Submissions are acknowledged promptly and reviews are normally done within six to eight weeks. We also welcome primary documents, e.g. statements or declarations, for our Selected Human Rights Documents section, to further the promotion and dissemination of such documents.

Two issues of the Journal are published each year by Brill. Abstracts of articles are indexed on Scopus and searchable on Westlaw. Full text is available on BrillOnline, EBSCO, and HeinOnline. 


Simon N. M. Young, Professor, Faculty of Law 

Kelley Loper, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law

The University of Hong Kong


Hermeneutics and Law

Francis Joseph (Jay) Mootz, III, is publishing Hermeneutics and Law in The Blackwell Companion to Hermeneutics (Naill Keane and Chris Lawn, eds.; 2015). Here is the abstract.
This chapter will appear in a forthcoming book on hermeneutics. After providing a hermeneutical phenomenology of legal practice that locates legal interpretation at the center of the rule of law, the chapter considers three important hermeneutical themes:

(1) the critical distinction between a legal historian writing aboout a law in the past and a judge deciding a case according to the law;
(2) the reinvigoration of the natural law tradition against the reductive characteristics of legal positivism by construing human nature as hermeneutical; and
(3) the role of philosophical hermeneutics in grounding critical legal theory rather than serving as a quiescent acceptance of the status quo, as elaborated by reconsidering the famous exchanges between Gadamer, Ricoeur and Habermas.
I argue that these three important themes are sufficient to underwrite Gadamer's famous assertion that legal practice has exemplary status for hermeneutical theory.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

Death of Willem Witteveen and Family in Air Crash In Ukraine

From Anne Wagner of the China University of Political Science and Law, and Editor of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, and from Richard Weisberg of Cardozo Law School, news that well-known semiotician and professor of law Willem Witteveen of the Tilberg Law School, his wife Lidwien Heerkens, and their daughter Marit, a student at the Tilburg University School of Humanities, died in the crash of Malaysia Flight HM17. We extend our sympathies to their  family, friends, and colleagues at Tilburg.

Anne notes that Professor Wittenveen was very much involved in the International Roundtable for the Semiotics of Law and in the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law where he actively participated to raise the quality and standards of submissions and abstracts.

From Richard, this expression of sympathy and remembrance: We note with sadness the tragic loss of Willem Witteveen on the Malaysian flight over Ukraine. Bill, a distinguished Dutch Senator, was a great friend of the Law and Literature movement in the Netherlands. He helped launch discussions of the field, including stories as a pathway to political activism, at a conference exactly 20 years ago in Leyden. We will miss him.

The University has posted a remembrance here and has opened a condolence book here.

July 2, 2014

Sing Out, Tom!

On Thursday, July 3rd, at the Library of Congress, the famed baritone Thomas Hampson and some friends will introduce us to an unfamiliar (but I'm sure, quite melodic) version of The Star-Spangled Banner, one that is much closer to what attorney Francis Scott Key heard as he came up with new lyrics while watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

More here from the New York Times, here from the Library of Congress. 

July 1, 2014

A New Issue of NoFo and a Call for Papers

From Monica Lopez Lerma, Co-Editor-in-Chief, No Foundations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Law and Justice, comes information about the contents of volume 11 (2014) of the Journal, and news of the call for papers for volume 12 (2015).

NoFo 11 (2014):
 Law & Society and the Politics of Relevance:
Facts and Field Boundaries in ‘Transnational Legal Theory in Context’
Peer Zumbansen
 Law in the Flesh: Tracing Legitimation’s Origin to The Act of Killing?
Richard K. Sherwin
 ‘No Foundations’?
Mark Antaki
 Pots, Tents, Temples
Angus McDonald
 Is Justice for Sale? Further Readings on Saramago and the Law Joana Aguiar e Silva
 Hanoch Dagan: Reconstructing American Legal Realism & Rethinking Private Law Theory. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013.
Andrew Halpin
 Gary Watt: Dress, Law and Naked Truth. A Cultural Study of Fashion and Form. Bloomsbury, London 2013.
Leslie J. Moran
 Richard Dawson: Justice as Attunement. Transforming Constitutions in Law, Literature, Economics, and the Rest of Life. Routledge, Abingdon 2014.
Jack L. Sammons
  Call for Papers
 No Foundations is currently accepting general submissions and book reviews for NoFo 12 (June 2015). To facilitate the review process please send us your manuscript before March 1, 2015. Please include an abstract of no more than 200 words with your submission.

June 26, 2014

Law, Reason, and Emotion

Mortimer Newlin Stead Seller, University of Baltimore School of Law, has published Law, Reason, and Emotion. Here is the abstract.

Law, reason, and emotion have a long, close, and complicated relationship in the history of philosophy and justice. This discussion suggests that that law gains legitimacy and effectiveness when it marries reason with emotion, that reason and human emotion are the guiding values of any just legal system, that all legal systems claim to be just, and that all legal systems and all legal scholars make use of these insights whether they acknowledge them or not. The project here in the first instance is one of definition: "law", "reason", "emotion", "justice", "effectiveness", and "the rule of law" all require specification to better understand how they relate to one another and set the agenda for further conversation. The first step is to consider how these words have been and should be used for the better understanding and eventual improvement of law and society. Reason and emotion are the twin pillars of the law, which make the law legitimate, just, and effective when they are properly taken into account and otherwise not. No one can properly understand law without reference both to human emotion and to the purpose law properly exists to serve, which is the rational well-being of each and every member of society.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link. 

The US Supreme Court and Institutional Legitimacy

James L. Gibson, Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Political Science, Milton Lodge, Stony Brook University, Department of Political Science, and Ben Woodson, Stony Brook University, Department of Political Science, have published Legitimacy, Losing, But Accepting: A Test of Positivity Theory and the Effects of Judicial Symbols. Here is the abstract.

How is it that the U.S. Supreme Court is capable of getting most citizens to accept rulings with which they disagree? This analysis addresses the role of the symbols of judicial authority and legitimacy – the robe, the gavel, the cathedral-like court building – in contributing to this willingness of ordinary people to acquiesce to disagreeable court decisions. Using an experimental design and a nationally representative sample, we show that exposure to judicial symbols (1) strengthens the link between institutional support and acquiescence among those with relatively low prior awareness of the Supreme Court; (2) has differing effects depending upon levels of pre-existing institutional support; and (3) severs the link between disappointment with a disagreeable Court decision and willingness to challenge the ruling. Since symbols influence citizens in ways that reinforce the legitimacy of courts, the connection between institutional attitudes and acquiescence posited by Legitimacy Theory is both supported and explained.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link. 

June 25, 2014

The Media and Reports of Crime, 1960-2009

Moira Peelo, Lancaster University, and Keith Soothill, Lancaster University, have published ‘Marginal’ Crime: The Example of Blackmail in Representing Evolving Crime Narratives at 53 Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 221 (2014). Here is the abstract.

Newspaper representation of blackmail cases from over half a century (1960–2009) is used to illustrate ‘marginal’ crime reporting in an era of social change: we asked how such crimes fare in attracting public attention and what meanings they represent during a period of politicised, public and criminological narratives of crime and disorder. ‘Marginal’ crimes sit at the edges of crime narratives and at the boundaries of criminology, yet the example of blackmail indicates wider social concerns. A macro analysis of 252 cases showed a steady public profile with six major categories of blackmail reported. At a micro level, only 33 cases achieved sustained reporting, deriving meaning from current social anxiety; acted normatively – defining current group values; or were one of a palette of charges brought against individuals.
The full text is not available from SSRN. 

Shakespeare As Therapist?

Herschel Prins, Loughborough University & University of Birmingham, has published Mental Disorder, Criminality and the Literary Imagination at 53 Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 290 (2014).

This contribution attempts to explore the use of a variety of literary sources as aids or ‘prompts’ to understanding those offenders and offender‐patients whose mental states often raise considerable anxieties in those charged with their management. The word ‘prompt’ is borrowed from the work of my friend, the late doctor Murray Cox, and his co‐worker Alice Theilgaard in their seminal work Shakespeare as Prompter (1994). The author of the present article hopes that its content will enable readers to focus more clearly on why we sometimes fail our offenders and offender‐patients; in particular, through the mechanism of denial. The use of dramatic presentation when proffered with a unique blend of force and sensitivity can permit us to view puzzlement and horror from a safe distance and, at the same time, encourage us to increase our empathic understanding and professional practice. Most of the examples cited are brief allusions but, because her history is so compellingly applicable to our concerns in the present contribution, the ‘case’ of Lady Macbeth is considered in more detail. Finally, I would note some very wise words by Cox and Theilgaard (1994) in a caveat note to the reader: ‘Should the focus on therapy ever become occluded by preoccupation with poetic association, clinical skills would be diminished, distraction ensue and therapeutic contact deteriorate’ (not numbered). In the material that follows readers should bear such a cautionary note in mind.
The full text is not available from SSRN. 

June 24, 2014

The Supreme Court's Christmas Party Guest List: 1947 and 1959

Ross E. Davies, George Mason University School of Law; The Green Bag, has published A Christmas Gift for the Supreme Court: How a 1959 Holiday Party Eclipsed a History of Discrimination at 17 Green Bag 2d 311 (Spring 2014).
On December 28, 1959, the New York Times published a little news item that was, in hindsight, both (1) a public relations triumph for Banning E. “Bert” Whittington, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Press Officer at the time, and (2) a jurisprudential and institutional relief for the Court. COURT DEFIES PRECEDENT: “One of the last institutions holding out against the Christmas Party succumbed last week. The Supreme Court had a pleasant but sober affair arranged by its press officer, Banning E. Whittington. Five of the Justices – Hugo L. Black, Felix Frankfurter, William O. Douglas, William J. Brennan Jr. and Potter Stewart – joined the small staff of employes. There were fruit punch, cookies and carols by a high school group, with some audience singing, too.” The story has a tone that should ring familiar in the ears of modern consumers of Supreme Court news reporting: good-natured indulgence of that somewhat dull, somewhat behind the times, somewhat culturally clueless wallflower among our great institutions of national government. But the background to that story suggests that the Court was not at all clueless in 1959. Indeed, the Court’s handling of that Christmas party, and the Times coverage of it, may have helped the Court occupy the high ground during its continuing campaign in the 1960s against racial discrimination.
Download the full text of the article from SSRN at the link.

A very interesting sidelight on the Court during a turbulent decade. 

June 19, 2014

Trying the New Deal

Ahmed White, University of Colorado Law School, has published The Wagner Act on Trial: The 1937 'Little Steel' Strike and the Limits of New Deal Reform. Here is the abstract.

The National Labor Relations Act of 1935, or Wagner Act, played a crucial role in shaping the New Deal and eventually transforming the economic, political, and legal foundations of modern America. Although many aspects of the statute’s history, including its relationship to the rise of industrial unionism and the epic struggle to secure its constitutionality, have been well told by historians and legal scholars, key elements of its story remain obscured by misconceptions, oversight, and outright myth. Not least among these areas of uncertainty is how the new law actually functioned in the months and years immediately after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality, and what its fate in this crucial time says about the nature of the New Deal itself. This article undertakes to shed light on these questions by unfolding the history of one of the most important events in the Second New Deal period: the “Little Steel” Strike of 1937. Drawing on a host of sources, including five major archival collections, this article tells the story of this dramatic and violent episode, including its legal history. Presenting the strike as a key test of the Wagner Act and a critical bellwether of the New Deal, the article documents not only the virtues of new regime in labor rights just as it emerged from the shadow of unconstitutionality, but also congenital shortcomings in the labor law that have undermined workers’ rights ever since. In a further challenge to conventional narratives of the period, the story of the strike exposes the remarkable degree to which the power of the business community survived, relatively undiminished, the Wagner Act and the political changes that accompanied it. Moreover, giving credence to a broader literature on New Deal law and policy, the article presents the strike and litigation surrounding it as proof of the continuing weakness of the New Deal and as key moments in the conservative turn that marked course of reform in the late 1930s.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

June 17, 2014

Natural Born Citizens and the U.S. Constitution

Mary Brigid McManamon, Widener University School of Law, is publishing The Natural Born Citizen Clause as Originally Understood in the Catholic University Law Review. Here is the abstract.

Article II of the Constitution requires that the President be a “natural born Citizen.” The phrase is derived from English common law, and the Supreme Court requires examination of that law to ascertain the phrase’s definition. This piece presents the pertinent English sources, combined with statements by early American jurists. Based on a reading of these materials, the article concludes that, in the eyes of the Framers, a presidential candidate must be born within the United States. The article is important because there have been candidates that “pushed the envelope” on this question in many elections over the last 50 years, and no article in the last century has correctly explained the common law definition. This article is timely because there will again be such a candidate in 2016 if Sen. Ted Cruz decides to run.
Download the full text from SSRN at the link. 

Law at the US Supreme Court

Jessica Silbey, Suffolk University Law School, and Megan Slack, Slack Law Firm, are publishing The Semiotics of Film in US Supreme Court Cases   in  Law, Culture and Visual Studies (Springer 2014). Here is the abstract.
This chapter explores the treatment of film as a cultural object among varied legal subject matter in US Supreme Court jurisprudence. Film is significant as an object or industry well beyond its incarnation as popular media. Its role in law – even the highest level of US appellate law – is similarly varied and goes well beyond the subject of a copyright case (as a moving picture) or as an evidentiary proffer (as a video of a criminal confession). This chapter traces the discussion of film in US Supreme Court cases in order to map the wide-ranging and diverse ­relations of film to law – a semiotics of film in the high court’s jurisprudence – to decouple the notion of film with entertainment or visual truth.

This chapter discerns the many ways in which the court perceives the role of film in legal disputes and social life. It also illuminates how the court imagines and reconstitutes through its decisions the evolving forms and significances of film and film spectatorship as an interactive public for film in society. As such, this project contributes to the work on the legal construction of social life, exploring how court cases constitute social reality through their legal discourse. It also speaks to film enthusiasts and critics who understand that film is much more than entertainment and is, in practice, a conduit of information and a mechanism for lived experience. Enmeshed in the fabric of society, film is political, commercial, expressive, violent, technologically sophisticated, economically valuable, uniquely persuasive, and, as these cases demonstrate, constantly evolving.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link. 

June 16, 2014

Antigone and Human Rights

Kevin P. Lee, Campbell University Law School, has published Emanuel Levinas on Hegel's Antigone: Levinas and the Problem of Modernity. Here is the abstract.
This essay introduces Emmanuel Levinas’s contribution to post-secular human rights discourse. It looks first to Levinas’s reading of Sophocles’ tragedy, Antigone, for an introduction to his thinking about the relationship between the human law and divine law. For his approach to “post-secularity” it compares Levinas to Jürgen Habermas’s critique of the “discourse on modernity” with particular concern for several issues of importance to human rights discourse. Levinas develops a “post-ontological” conception of religion as a part of his account of subjectivity. It suggests that, while flawed in many respects, Levinas’s work illustrates some of the complex issues facing those who seek to articulate a post secular theory of human rights.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link. 

Legal Rules and Narrative Reasoning

Stephen Paskey, State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo Law School, is publishing The Law is Made of Stories: Erasing the False Dichotomy between Stories and Legal Rules in volume 11 of Legal Communication and Rhetoric (Fall 2014). Here is the abstract.

When lawyers think of legal analysis, they think chiefly of logic and reason. Stories are secondary. As Michael Smith explains, our legal system “is not founded on narrative reasoning” but on “a commitment to the rule of law.” The article suggests that this dichotomy between “rule-based reasoning” and “narrative reasoning” is false, and that narrative and stories are central to legal reasoning, including rule-based reasoning. In doing so, the article uses literary narrative theory to show that every governing legal rule has the structure of a “stock story”: the elements of the rule correspond to elements of a story. It follows that lawyers do not rely on stories simply because they are persuasive. They do so because a story is literally embedded in the structure of governing rules, and those rules can be satisfied only by telling a story. Thus, many analytical moves we label “rule-based reasoning” can be understood as a type of narrative reasoning, in which a client’s story is compared to and contrasted with the stock story embedded in the rule.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

Harry Potter à la mode

A new book on law and Harry Potter, this one in French:

Jean-Claude Milner, Harry Potter: A l’école des sciences morales et politiques (PUF, 2014) (the date of publication is listed as July 2014).

Here's the table of contents: Introduction

1 – Le Roman d’éducation

2 – Les leçons de la tante Marge

3 – La leçon d’Eton

4 – La leçon des humanistes

5 – La leçon de Voldemort

6 – La leçon des sorciers

7 – La leçon des moldus et le secret de Dumbledore


A tip of the sorting hat to José Calvo Gonzalez, University of Malaga

June 12, 2014

A New Book On Legal Translation

Newly published:

The Ashgate Handbook of Legal Translation (Le Cheng, Ing Kui Sin, Anne Wagner, eds.; Ashgate, 2014) (Law, Language, and Communication). Here is a description of the contents from the publisher's website.

  • This volume investigates advances in the field of legal translation both from a theoretical and practical perspective, with professional and academic insights from leading experts in the field. Part I of the collection focuses on the exploration of legal translatability from a theoretical angle. Covering fundamental issues such as equivalence in legal translation, approaches to legal translation and the interaction between judicial interpretation and legal translation, the authors offer contributions from philosophical, rhetorical, terminological and lexicographical perspectives. Part II focuses on the analysis of legal translation from a practical perspective among different jurisdictions such as China, the EU and Japan, offering multiple and pluralistic viewpoints.
    This book presents a collection of studies in legal translation which not only provide the latest international research findings among academics and practitioners, but also furnish us with a new approach to, and new insights into, the phenomena and nature of legal translation and legal transfer.
    The collection provides an invaluable reference for researchers, practitioners, academics and students specialising in law and legal translation, philosophy, sociology, linguistics and semiotics.
  • Contents: Foreword: new challenges for legal translation, Heikki Eero Sakari Mattila; Legal translatability process as the ‘third space’: insights into theory and practice, Anne Wagner, King-Kui Sin and Le Cheng. Part I Legal Translation in Theory: Translation vs. decoding strategies in law and economics scholarship, Mariusz Jerzy Golecki; Cultural transfer and conceptualisation in legal discourse, Anne Wagner, King-Kui Sin and Le Cheng; Lost in translation? Linguistic diversity and the elusive quest for plain meaning in the law, Janet Ainsworth; Translation equivalence as a legal fiction, Janny H.C. Leung; Trying to see the wood despite the trees: a plain approach to legal translation, Víctor González-Ruiz; Minimal unit of legal translation vs. minimal unit of thought, Svetlana V. Vlasenko; Parameters for problem-solving in legal translation: implications for legal lexicography and institutional terminology management, Fernando Prieto Ramos; Structuring a legal translation course: a framework for decision-making in legal translator training, Catherine Way. Part II Legal Translation in Practice: EU legislative texts and translation, Colin Robertson; Phraseology in legal translation: a corpus-based analysis of textual mapping in EU law, Łucja Biel; Translating international arbitration norms into the Italian language and culture, Maurizio Gotti; Translating domestic legislation: a comparative analysis of English versions of Brazilian law on arbitration, Celina Frade; Translation of Japanese laws and regulations, Kayoko Takeda and Yasuhiro Sekine; Important translation strategies used in legal translation: examples of Hooper’s translation of the Ottoman Majalla into English, Rafat Y. Alwazna; On the translation of the criminal procedure law of the PRC, Lijin Sha and Jian Li; The new Czech civil code - lessons from legal translation: a case-study analysis, Marta Chromá; Multilevel translation analysis of a key legal concept: persona juris and legal pluralism, Sandy Lamalle. Afterword: the trials and tribulations of legal translation, Deborah Cao; Index.

Organizing the Doctrines of International Law

Matthias Goldmann, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, has published Principles in International Law as Rational Reconstructions. A Taxonomy. Here is the abstract.

The paper suggests that principles as an important part of legal doctrine should be understood as the result of the rational reconstruction of legal discourse in the sense of Jürgen Habermas’ method bearing the same name (A.). It first argues that principles are best understood as abstract legal rules, not as normative presuppositions that are categorically different from rules (B.). As principles in international law just as in domestic legal orders are important parts of doctrine, the papers inquires into the self-understanding of doctrine, i.e. of the method used for the formation of principles (C.I.). Doctrine as the production of conceptual abstractions from the positive law has faced a number of methodological challenges over the last two centuries (C.II.). The method of rational reconstruction provides a methodologically tenable explanation. Envisaged by Jürgen Habermas as an explanation for the practice of communication and later applied to the practice of political discourse, this method allows understanding legal principles as the normative presuppositions of the participants in legal discourse (C.III.). Depending on which part of legal discourse one attempts to reconstruct, a taxonomy of principles in international law emerges, ranging from hard-law general principles of law to structural principles with merely heuristic functions (D.). The rational reconstruction of principles in international law thus helps to carve out the dividing line between law and politics and bears relevance for current scholarly endeavors (E.).
Download the paper from SSRN at the link. 

June 11, 2014

Law and Yoga

Michal Tamir, Shaarei Mishpat College of Law is publishing Law and Yoga in the Journal of Law and Social Deviance. Here is the abstract.

“Law and yoga” is a phrase that is rarely heard anywhere, much less in courtrooms or in yoga studios. This oxymoronic pairing represents two entities and two separate worlds, without an obvious connection. The practice of law involves constant judgment of others, while the yoga tradition aims to avoid judgment; yoga consecrates silence, while law revolves around discourse; yoga focuses in the most extreme way on the given moment, whereas law looks to the past and the future, particularly with regard to precedents; yoga deals with the whole and the one, whereas law dissects every issue into minutiae and subparts. Despite these dichotomies, yoga, as an in-depth, comprehensive approach to life, can be a model by which to re-examine behavior in the world of law, thereby contributing tools and values that can be useful for resolving legal crises and social conflicts.

Yoga philosophy stresses that cutting oneself off from thinking through silence enables exploration and seeking, which, in turn, leads to finding our inner truth. The process of seeking inner truth can lead to the discovery of the external truth, the Dharma, which embodies both the desirable and the available. This insight can be applied to a legal framework in order to help bridge the gap between justice and law and reconcile factual truth and legal truth. The article recognizes that law and justice are not one and the same, and that various legal rules and doctrines, to do with proof, evidence, precedent, and other variables, sometimes prevent factual truth from translating into legal truth and decisions. Nonetheless, diminishing this gap - i.e., turning the desirable into the actual - can be more easily achieved through the application of yoga principles to the practice of law, thereby achieving what those in the legal profession aspire to.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

The Aesthetics of Contract Law

Kenneth K. Ching, Regent University School of Law, has published Beauty and Ugliness in Offer and Acceptance. Here is the abstract.

This essay applies classical aesthetics to the contract doctrine of offer and acceptance. It argues that contract law can be understood, analyzed, and improved using three criteria of beauty: proportion, integrity, and clarity. Based on these criteria, this essay (1) argues that the traditional doctrine of offer and acceptance is beautiful, (2) argues that UCC §2-207 is ugly and fails to improve upon offer and acceptance, and (3) suggests improvements for UCC §2-207.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link. 

Patriarchial Government and Aboriginal Peoples In Australian Law and Culture

Honni Van Rijswijk, University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law, is publishing Archiving the Northern Territory Intervention in Law, and in the Literary Counter-Imaginary in volume 40 of the Australian Feminist Law Journal (2014). Here is the abstract.

This article focuses on a figure archived in contemporary Australian law, a figure who is central to the state’s control of Aboriginal people. This figure, like her counterparts in earlier historical periods, is to be found in legislation and in case law, and in law’s supplementary genres, including welfare and indigenous policy, and Parliamentary second-reading speeches. This figure is the ‘abused Aboriginal child’, and she has been significant to the production of myths of the Australian nation-state, and to the rule of law. She is being used to justify the continued administration of Aboriginal communities, through simultaneously both the continuing suspension of the rule of law, and the violent instrumentalisation of law. This article examines the archive of the Northern Territory Intervention and subsequent Stronger Futures legislation, investigating the ways in which law’s violence masquerades as law’s care. I seek to explore the ways in which reading law as an archive opens up the possibility of a counter-archival practice that interrupts and disorients law’s claim to violent jurisdiction over Aboriginal people. The emphasis here is on reading law as archive — on taking up a position of readerly responsibility with respect to the practices of representation that constitute law’s archive, and on constructing counter-archival practices and imaginaries that resist and re-situate law’s authority. By way of example, I examine Alexis Wright’s most recent novel, The Swan Book (2013), which is read as an exemplary counter-archival text that interrupts law’s archival practices and claims.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

June 10, 2014

Law Among Friends

Alecia Simmonds, University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law, has published Trading Sentiments: Friendship and Commerce in John Turnbull's Voyages (1800-1813) in volume 48 of the Journal of Pacific History (2014). Here is the abstract.

This paper explores the relationship between commerce, cross-cultural friendship and empire in the published Voyages of Pacific salt pork trader John Turnbull. Turnbull published two versions of his Voyages, the first in 1805 and the second in 1813. Through exposing the variations between the two versions of his Voyages and analysing the reception of each text in the burgeoning periodical literature at the time, I explore how his commercially oriented critiques of cross-cultural friendship transformed into unbridled enthusiasm in the second reprint. I explain this shift as both a consequence of a shift in genre, from commercial voyaging to scientific voyaging, and as a reflection of two competing ideas of the relationship between friendship and commerce. The first version reflects a Smithian ideal, where friendship is excluded from commerce, while the second version shows a natural law conception of friendship as commercial imperialism in its ideal, and morally virtuous, form. 

Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

Paul Robeson As Human Rights Advocate

Penelope Andrews, Albany Law School, has published A Champion for African Freedom: Paul Robeson and the Struggle Against Apartheid in volume 77 of the Albany Law Review (2014). Here is the abstract.

On February 28, 2013, I was honored to deliver the Paul Robeson lecture at Columbia Law School, an annual event to commemorate the life and legacy of Paul Robeson, a graduate of Columbia Law School (Class of 1923). This article is a slightly expanded version of my lecture.
This article will have four components: first, it will highlight the achievements of this extraordinary man, an advocate for social justice, a world-renowned artist, and an accomplished sportsman. Second, in this article I explore Paul Robeson’s connections and commitment to the African anti-colonial struggle, and in particular the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Third, this article examines the legal developments in South Africa with the collapse of formal apartheid, and outlines the broad contours of the constitutional text, particularly the bill of rights and the constitutional and human rights jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court. Finally, the article will end with the question: what would Paul Robeson say about the contemporary moment that post-apartheid South Africa finds itself in?
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

June 2, 2014

New Legal Drama Premieres On June 29

The new CBS legal drama, Reckless, premieres June 29th at 9 p.m., 8 Central time. Watch a promo here. The series is based on a British show of the same name which aired on ITV in 1997; it is set in Charleston, South Carolina. Note that the British series featured health professionals, not lawyers (It starred Robson Green, who went on to star in the legal drama Trust). Anna Wood stars as Northern attorney Jamie Sawyer who moves to the city and immediately finds an adversary (and love interest) in local lawyer Roy Rayder (Cam Gigandet).

More here

May 30, 2014

Legal History and Criminal Law

Markus D. Dubber, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, is publishing Histories of Crime and Criminal Justice and the Historical Analysis of Criminal Law in the Oxford Handbook of the History of Crime and Criminal Justice (Paul Knepper & Anja Johansen eds.; Forthcoming). Here is the abstract.

This essay reflects on the relationship between the history of crime, the history of criminal justice, and the history of criminal law. It suggests an account of the historical analysis of criminal law that locates it within the general project of critical analysis of law (CAL).
Download the essay from SSRN at the link. 

May 21, 2014

Looking At Looking Down

Yxta Maya Murray, Loyola Law School (Los Angeles), is publishing Peering in the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law Policy. Here is the abstract.

“Peering” designates a legal practice of gazing at poor people. Legal actors literally peer, that is, look at the poor; they also peer in another fashion, which determines whether the visual subject is their peer. If the observed falls short of the observer’s social class, the law fixes them in their “proper place.” In the Fifth Amendment takings context, this means they are at risk for condemnation.

This article traces peering’s evolution in Fifth Amendment law. It notes peering’s initial descent: From the 1920s until the 2000s, courts looked “down” at the poor, often describing them as monstrous. “Slums” – edifices typically depicted as housing contagious subhumans – proved perfect objects of condemnations since they threatened the upper strata. In the 1980s, however, another legal gaze flourished: One that looked “up,” and whose bearers peered themselves with wealthy developers. In cases stemming from Michigan’s 1981 Poletown Neighborhood Council v. City of Detroit to the Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo v. City of New London, we find rhetoric signaling legislative and judicial alignment with affluence. Here, lawmakers and judges approved condemnations that fostered “world class” and “cutting edge” corporate factories. I call this the ascendant or aspirational gaze, and in its exuberant optics, both the poor and the middle class find themselves vulnerable to “economic rejuvenation” takings. An active lobby of activists and judges challenge this gaze with petit bourgeois perspectives, leading to reform. But the poor submerge in these visuals, finding vanishing chances to escape “blight” condemnations.

To understand and combat peering, I study Columbia University’s recent expansion into West Harlem. I contemplate New York Court of Appeals’ 2010 Matter of Kaur v. New York State Urban Development Corporation, which approved of Manhattanville’s condemnation, and also the political rhetoric and blight reports that justified the taking. I additionally reference interviews with members of the Harlem community, and offer their home photographs as counter‐images to the ones that filled the blight reports. Inspired by the legal history I recount, as well as the testaments and images offered by Harlem residents, I describe the racist, classist, and violent meanings of blight findings. I reject “blight” as unsalvageable, but sketch a Fifth Amendment doctrine that would foster what one Harlem leader describes as a “decent life.”
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

May 20, 2014

Snapshot: Scottish and English Law at James VI & I's Accession

Hector Lewis MacQueen, University of Edinburgh School of Law, has published Scots and English Law c.1603: Uniting or Dividing Kingdoms? as Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2014/15.

Here is the abstract. A brief discussion of how Scots and English lawyers saw their respective laws and legal systems at the time of the Union of the Crowns, when the prospect of a union of laws was also put before them.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.