February 25, 2010

The Supreme Court and Baseball

Ross E. Davies and Craig D. Rust, George Mason University School of Law, have published "Supreme Court Sluggers: Behind the Numbers," at Green Bag 2d 213 (Winter 2010). Here is the abstract.

Issued last fall, the Chief Justice John G. Roberts “Supreme Court Sluggers” trading card pictured on page 213 above is the first in what should be a very long series of “Sluggers” cards. The first Associate Justice card – of John Paul Stevens – will be out this spring. Others, of the sitting Justices and of their predecessors, will follow in the coming months and years. The Green Bag’s ambitions for this project are simple, if not small: (a) to develop and share comparable measurements of the work of every member of the Supreme Court since 1789; (b) to gradually expand and refine those measurements with an eye to making them as useful and interesting as possible; (c) to create informative, entertaining, and unorthodox yet respectful portraits of the Justices by first-rate artists; and (d) to present all of this material in a way that will be enjoyable for the producers, consumers, and subjects of the “Sluggers” cards. As an introduction to the “Sluggers” project, we offer here short descriptions of what went into the development of the front and back of the Chief Justice Roberts card. The front is a work of art that makes light-hearted connections between its subject and the game of baseball. The back is packed with statistics and sprinkled with quotations drawn from the subject’s judicial work.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

The Origins Of Critical Race Theory

Richard Delgado, Seattle University School of Law, has published "Liberal McCarthyism and the Origins of Critical Race Theory," at 94 Iowa Law Review 1505 (2009). Here is the abstract.
I wrote this piece exploring some of the intellectual origins of critical race theory for a 20-year anniversary of the movement held at the University of Iowa in April, 2009. In it, I look at the role of certain prominent university officers in purging their ranks of white radicals to prepare the way, in the late sixties and early seventies, for the first large group of post-Brown minority students who were starting to arrive around that time. I show how four promising white professors, two of law, one of history, and one of criminology lost their jobs and what they did afterward. I show that they continued to teach and write about left-wing thought in the hinterlands in ways that contributed to the rise of critical race theory. As they say, it is hard to kill an idea.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

February 24, 2010

Call For Papers

Call For Papers at the Modern Language Association, 2011

Special Session: "Literature and Rights in the Age of Enlightenment"

This panel seeks to investigate the intertwined histories of literature and rights in the long eighteenth century. How does imaginative writing in this period contribute to the development of the humanitarian sensibility and the emergence of human rights? Conversely, how do changing conceptions of rights shape novels, poems, plays, and essays? Papers on literary, philosophical, and legal formulations of natural and positive rights, and on questions concerning freedom, equality, justice, toleration, torture, cruelty, and pain are all welcome.

Send one-page abstracts to Melissa Ganz (melissa.ganz@stanford.edu) by March 8. Inquiries welcome.

February 19, 2010

Law and Art Symposium at the Tate

At the Tate, a one day symposium on Law and Art: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Justice on March 23, 2010.

A Reaction To Malcolm Gladwell's Analysis Of Atticus Finch

Lance McMillian, John Marshall Law School (Atlanta) has published "Atticus Finch as Racial Accommodator: Answering Malcolm Gladwell's Critique." Here is the abstract.
Atticus Finch – the fictional hero of Harper Lee’s 'To Kill A Mockingbird' – is a legal icon. The legendary status of Finch is confirmed by his standing in the non-legal world of broader culture. In 2003, the renowned American Film Institute deemed Atticus the greatest movie hero of all-time. That a lawyer would be worthy of this honor is nothing short of remarkable and demonstrates that the stature of Atticus Finch has assumed mythic proportions in American culture. Atticus is not just a lawyer; he is justice in the flesh.

Enter best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell. Last year, Gladwell made waves in The New Yorker by arguing that, far from being a bright spot of racial enlightenment in a time of darkness, Atticus Finch instead made an immoral peace with the world of Jim Crow Alabama. While Gladwell is not the first to criticize the Atticus myth, he is the most culturally influential person to do so, which is an important development. The Atticus-As-Racial-Accommodator charge essentially posits that Atticus was all-too-comfortable with the racism (and racists) that surrounded him every day. Gladwell wonders: Where is the moral outrage? In response, I argue that Gladwell misdiagnoses Atticus because he neglects the important role that Finch’s Christian faith plays in who he is as a person. To understand Atticus, one must first understand Jesus and his teaching. Finch is a New Testament-style prophet whose worldview propels him to this truth: Love and understanding open doors; judgment and condemnation close them. Consequently, his quiet and gentlemanly interactions with the racists in his midst suggest neither passivity nor appeasement, as Gladwell contends. Instead, they are a form of character and strength – derived from Finch’s faith in Jesus – that imbue Atticus with moral authority in the eyes of the community. Moreover, while Gladwell rightly stresses the need of legal change in bringing equality to the South, the kind of moral change led by Finch was likewise necessary. Law is only half of the equation.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of To Kill A Mockingbird. Combined with the cultural significance of Gladwell’s recent revisionist foray, this milestone means that now is a particularly apt time to look at Atticus with fresh eyes and assess his character anew.

February 18, 2010

Symposium On Food, Culture, and the Law

From Penelope Pether, Villanova University School of Law, an announcement of a symposium on "Food, Culture and the Law," on February 26, sponsored by the University of Iowa and to be held at the Old Capitol Senate Chamber.

Higher Education: The Dumbledore Factor

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, why Dumbledore is a good administrator (but check out the comments--some folks don't agree).

February 16, 2010

Call For Papers

From Elizabeth Stockton, Southwestern University

CFP: MLA 2011 (Los Angeles, CA)

Law and Literature of the U.S. before 1900

Seeking papers that examine legal and literary discourses in the US
before 1900. Possible topics might include citizenship, ethnicity,
sexuality, imperialism, and the rhetoric of the law. Abstracts and CV
by 2 March 2010 to Elizabeth Stockton (stockton@southwestern.edu).

Call For Papers

From Elliott Visconti at Yale

Literary History and Constitutional Culture

For the MLA’s next conference in Los Angeles (January 2011), the Discussion Group on Law and Literature invites paper proposals that address the relationship, broadly understood, between constitutional change and literary history. Some general questions: what influence do constitutional decisions have on the path of literary history, and to what degree can such decisions or events be said to transform or deflect a literary tradition? Papers that take a theoretical approach to the question are welcome (e.g. can the literary be understood as a modality of popular constitutional interpretation?) as are papers addressed to a concrete moment/ event/watershed (e.g. LGBT literature after Lawrence v. Texas; LDS fiction in the wake of Reynolds v. United States, the literary history of slavery after Somersett’s case, African-American poetry after Brown v. Board, Franco-Islamic literature after the 2004 headscarf laws, etc.

Paper proposals from all legal and literary traditions are welcome. Please send abstract and cv to elliott.visconsi@yale.edu, by March 15 2010

February 8, 2010

Justice! He Demands Justice!

Grant Morris of the University of San Diego Law School argues that in all those lists of great legal movies one great law related movie never rates a mention. It's for that elephant in the room, Dumbo. See Grant A. Morris,
The Greatest Legal Movie of All Time: Proclaiming the Real Winner
, volume 47 of the San Diego Law Review (2010). Here's the abstract.
In August, 2008, the ABA Journal featured an article entitled: “The 25 Greatest Legal Movies.” A panel of experts, described in the article as “12 prominent lawyers who teach film or are connected to the business” selected “the best movies ever made about lawyers and the law.” This distinguished panel ranked its twenty-five top legal movies, choosing To Kill a Mockingbird as its number one legal movie. The panel also selected twenty-five films as “honorable mentions,” which were listed in alphabetical order. In my opinion, however, the real greatest legal movie of all time was not selected as the winner. It was not ranked in the top twenty-five. It was not included in the twenty-five honorable mentions so that it would rank in the top fifty. I would wager that it was not even considered by the panel as a candidate for inclusion as a “legal” movie. In this article, I discuss the movie that should have been ranked first. I compare my choice with the experts’ choice, describing similarities and differences between the two movies. In To Kill a Mockingbird, an African American man is wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. Despite the best efforts of his attorney, he is convicted of that crime. Prejudice prevails over justice. In the movie I have chosen, another victim of prejudice is able to succeed due to the best efforts of his attorney. Justice prevails over prejudice. That difference convinces me that the movie I have selected is truly the greatest legal movie of all time.

Conference Announcement

The Critical Legal Conference

From Bald de Vries and Since 1984, every first weekend in September, the Critical Legal Conference brings together critical and radical legal scholars from all over the world. It has been a phenomenal success despite its modesty. The CLC is also exactly that: a conference. No organisation, presidents and secretaries, members and subscrip­tions.
This conference is a transient community; an inoperative community always to come, lasting for three days every year, without orthodoxies, exclu­sions or stars and gets down to the business of thinking and being together. In doing so, a variety of critical schools, such as postmodernism, phenomenology, decon­struction, feminism, post-colonialism, critical race, queer theory, the ethics of otherness, the ontology of plural singularity, and the critique of bio-politics have been pioneered in these conferences, creating new and stronger links between theory and practice.
Most conferences have taken place in the UK but we have also been to South Africa, India, Ireland and Scandinavia. This is the first time, the CLC is organised in the Netherlands. It hopes to bring together different schools and approaches to critical legal scholarship at a time when collaboration and solidarity across Europe and the world is imperative.

February 3, 2010

Law in the Wilderness

Shaun Fluker, University of Calgary Faculty of Law, has published "Wilderness Narrative in Law: The View from Canada’s National Parks." Here is the abstract.
In this conference paper presented at the 2009 Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment held in Victoria, BC, I briefly examine the relationship between law and the concept of wilderness. I hope to demonstrate this relationship in two ways. First, that law provides us with a source of wilderness narrative. Although much less prosaic than other forms of literature, legal decisions tell stories about what wilderness is. Second, that ideas of wilderness can influence the enactment and application of legal rules.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.