August 23, 2019

ALSH Conference Set for November 21-24, 2019

ASLH has announced its 2019 Program. The meeting will take place in Boston from November 21 to November 24, 2019. Here's a link to the conference program.

Inniss on Slavery at Princeton @AuntieFeminist @SMULawSchool

Lolita Buckness Inniss, Southern Methodist University School of Law, has published ‘A Southern College Slipped from Its Geographical Moorings’: Slavery at Princeton at 39 Slavery & Abolition 236 (2018). Here is the abstract.
While slave-owning students at Princeton rarely constituted a majority of students, they were often a large plurality of the students in the antebellum period. Because of Princeton's historic role in educating southerners, it has sometimes been referred to as the most southern of the Ivy League schools. So many students from the United States South enrolled at Princeton during the first several decades of the college that one observer wrote that one might take Princeton for a ‘Southern college slipped from its geographical moorings.’ This article explores the extent to which and whether Princeton behaved like a southern institution in its speech and actions concerning slavery and emancipation.
The full text is not available for download from SSRN.

August 20, 2019

Home Run! The FIU Law Review's Microsymposium on Law and the Infield Fly Rule @FIULAWREVIEW @SWeberWaller @KarboraniAdrian @robneyer @oldfatherc @fiulaw

Look at this unusual and fresh approach to a law review symposium issue. I know less than nothing about baseball, as you can tell from the title of this post, but I enjoyed looking through FIU Law Review's Micro-Symposium: Infield Fly Rule Is In Effect: The History and Strategy of Baseball's Most (In)Famous Rule.  Here's a list of the articles included.

Adrian Karborani, Introduction to the Micro-Symposium: Infield Fly Rule in Effect

Richard D. Friedman, Just Say No To the Cheap Double Play

Mark A. Graber, Functionalism and the Infield Fly Rule

Andrew J. Guilford, Another Side to the Infield Fly Rule

Richard Hershberger, The Prehistory of the Infield Fly Rule

Rob Nelson, The Enfield Fly Rule

Rob Neyer, Teach the Controversy

Peter B. Oh, De-Limiting Rules

Chad M. Oldfather, Umpires, Judges, and the Aesthetics of the Infield Fly

Spencer Weber Waller, The Puzzle of the Infield Fly Rule

Howard M. Wasserman, Keeping the Infield Fly Rule in Effect 

August 19, 2019

Macey on the Central Role of Political Myth in Corporate Law @JonathanMacey @YaleLawSch

Jonathan R. Macey, Yale Law School, has published The Central Role of Political Myth in Corporate Law. Here is the abstract.
This Article shows that a variety of fundamental rules of corporate law are based on a set of myths. The Article explains that these myths play an important role in attracting public acceptance and support for what otherwise would be unpopular and controversial regulations. Thus, one can view the role played by myth in corporate law in a particular context as having either positive or negative social effects depending on one’s opinion of the social value of the underlying legal rule that being buttressed and affirmed by the myth. Four political and sociological myths that continue to play important roles in law are examined. These are: (1) the myth that corporations are owned by their shareholders and represent ownership interests in businesses rather than mere financial claims on the cash flows of those businesses, coupled with certain political (voting) rights that protect those claims; (2) the “shareholder value myth,” that corporate officers and directors are legally required to maximize firm value; (3) that subsidiary companies are independent from and not subject to the control of their parent companies and must remain so in order for the parent company to avoid liability for the contract and tort debts of the subsidiary under various alter ego and piercing the corporate veil theories of corporate law; and (4) the legal regulation of insider trading is justified because of the necessity of creating a “level playing field” among participants in financial markets. Reasonable people can disagree about whether the role played by these myths is normatively positive or negative in each of these contexts.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Reminder: CFP for 2019 Graphic Justice Discussions: "Drawing the Human: Law, Comics, Justice" @LexComica


2019 Graphic Justice Discussions – “Drawing the Human: Law, Comics, Justice”
28-29 November 2019, USC, Queensland, Australia

The 2019 conference of the Graphic Justice Research Alliance will be hosted by the USC School of Law and Criminology, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland Australia. The conference explores the theme Drawing the Human: Law, Comics, Justice and will run on the 28th and 29th November 2019.

The conference seeks to examine the role of comics, graphic novels and graphic art in constituting as well as critiquing law, rights and justice as they relate to and extend beyond the human. Proposals for papers and panels are welcome from academics, postgraduate students and artists from across a range of disciplines including law, criminology and justice, comics studies, visual and cultural studies and the humanities.

In addition, we are delighted to announce our confirmed keynotes:
  • Dr Sonja Schillings, who will be speaking on Conditioning the Law: Nature and Nuclear Energy in the Comic Form
  • Associate Professor Neal Curtis, who will be speaking on Redrawing the Lines: Superheroes as Law and Myth

Please see the attached call for papers which closes on the 31st of August.

In addition, you can find more details at our conference website here.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Sunshine Coast in November.


Timothy Peters, Dale Mitchell & Ashley Pearson
Conference Hosts – Drawing the Human: Law, Comics, Justice

August 14, 2019

Rub on Owning Nothingness: Between the Legal and the Social Norms of the Art World @Guy_A_Rub

Guy A. Rub, Ohio State University College of Law, is publishing Owning Nothingness: Between the Legal and the Social Norms of the Art World in the Brigham Young University Law Review. Here is the abstract.
Almost $8 million — that is what the Crystal Bridges Museum paid for one work of contemporary art in November 2015. What did that museum get for that hefty sum? From a legal perspective, absolutely nothing. The work it purchased was just an idea, and ideas of this kind escape legal protection. The reason that large, sophisticated, experienced, and legally-represented institutes are willing to pay millions of dollars for something that the law does not recognize has to do with the social norms of the art world. This Article is one of the first in legal scholarship to examine at depth those norms in this multibillion-dollar industry. It does so by, inter alia, reporting on interviews the author conducted with industry insiders concerning their practices. The Article suggests that those norms create property-like rights in all artworks, whether or not they are legally protected, as well as an ongoing right of artists to partly control the use of their works. Those social norms fill a gap between the ways in which the contemporary art world understands creativity and ways in which our legal system actually incentivizes creative endeavors. The Article analyzes the normative implications of these social norms and the gap they fill. First, it explains how those norms incentivize certain forms of creativity in a way that is more effective and efficient than property rights. Second, going beyond the art world, the Article shows how the social norms expose certain hidden assumptions in copyright authorship and their shortcomings. It suggests how the law can be improved to account for the richer description of creativity this Article provides. Third, the Article contributes to the ongoing debate concerning private-property ownership. The art world provides sellers with significant post-sale control over their works in a way that the law commonly finds undesirable. That tension might justify rethinking of the current legal rules that disincentivize post-sale control.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

August 13, 2019

Visions Not So Splendid: Art, Law, Justice: August 22, 2019 at the Australian National University

The ANU Centre for Law, Art and the Humanities presents Visions Not So Splendid: Art, Law, Justice on Thursday 22 August, 12:00-4:30PM at the Sir Ronald Wilson Building Lecture Theatre, Australian National University.

This event includes the following panels:
Law and Art in Transition
§  Eliza Garnsey, ‘The Visual Jurisprudence of Transition’
§  Maya Broom, ‘Incursions of International Law: Representations in Cinema’
Representation and Justice
§  Rachel Joy, ‘The Work of Art in Decolonising Occupied Australia’
§  Laura Petersen, ‘Sites of Restitution: Gerhard Richter and the Birkenau Cycle’
§  Lola Frost, ‘Dream Painting and the Deterritorialisation of Democratic Politics’

Click here to access the Visions Not So Splendid: Art Law, Justice Program which contains the full schedule and abstracts for this exciting event.

For more information:

Dale Mitchell, Vice-President (Web), Law, Literature and Humanities Association of Australasia

Call For Proposals: The Golden Age of Crime, a 2-Day International Conference at the University of Chester, April 3-4, 2020

The Golden Age of Crime: A Re-Evaluation
A 2-day international conference at the University of Chester
3-4 April 2020

The Golden Age of crime fiction, roughly defined as puzzle-based mystery fiction produced between the First and Second World Wars, is enjoying a renaissance both in the literary marketplace and in scholarship. This conference intervenes in emerging academic debates to define and negotiate the boundaries of Golden Age scholarship.

As well as interrogating the staples of ‘Golden Age’ crime (the work of Agatha Christie and/or Ellery Queen, the puzzle format, comparisons to ‘the psychological turn’), this conference will look at under-explored elements of the publishing phenomenon.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers or panel presentations of one hour. Topics can include, but are by no means limited to, the following:

Defining the parameters of Golden Age crime
The Queens of Crime (Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey, Gladys Mitchell)
Significant male writers of the Golden Age (John Dickson Carr, Anthony Berkeley, Ellery Queen)
Lesser-known Golden Age practitioners
Collaborative and round robin novels
Continuation novels
The Detection Club
Parody, pastiche, and postmodernism
Psychology and psychoanalysis
Meta-fiction and self- or inter-referentiality
The language of crime fiction
The Golden Age and social value
Nostalgia and heritage
Writing the past
Gender, sexuality, and queerness
Clues and coding
Crime and the Gothic
Magic and the supernatural
Place, space, and psychogeography
Reissues and rediscovery
Archival finds and innovations
The ‘Second Golden Age’
The influence of Golden Age crime writers on subsequent and contemporary writers
Interdisciplinary perspectives
Teaching Golden Age crime fiction

Organisers: Dr J C Bernthal (University of Cambridge), Sarah Martin (University of Chester), Stefano Serafini (Royal Holloway, University of London)

We welcome academic and creative paper proposals. Please email your 200-word proposal and short biographical note to no later than 15th December. Comments and queries should be directed to the same address.

CFP: 2019 Law, Literature & the Humanities Association of Australia Extended to August 31, 2019

From Dr. Timothy Peters, President, Law, Literature, & the Humanities Association of Australia:
The call for papers for the 2019 Law, Literature and the Humanities Association of Australasia Conference: Juris Apocalypse Now: Law in the End Times has been extended until 31st August 2019 (see attached). In addition, the application date for postgraduate bursaries has also been extended to 31st August. Please both distribute far and wide, and get your abstracts for panels and papers in now!

New From Cambridge University Press: Elizabeth Papp Kamali, Felony and the Guilty Mind in Medieval England @LizPappKamali @cambUP_History

Now available: Elizabeth Papp Kamali, Harvard Law School, is publishing Felony and the Guilty Mind in Medieval England (Cambridge University Press) in September 2019). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
This book explores the role of mens rea, broadly defined as a factor in jury assessments of guilt and innocence from the early thirteenth through the fourteenth century - the first two centuries of the English criminal trial jury. Drawing upon evidence from the plea rolls, but also relying heavily upon non-legal textual sources such as popular literature and guides for confessors, Elizabeth Papp Kamali argues that issues of mind were central to jurors' determinations of whether a particular defendant should be convicted, pardoned, or acquitted outright. Demonstrating that the word 'felony' itself connoted a guilty state of mind, she explores the interplay between social conceptions of guilt and innocence and jury behavior. Furthermore, she reveals a medieval understanding of felony that involved, in its paradigmatic form, three essential elements: an act that was reasoned, was willed in a way not constrained by necessity, and was evil or wicked in its essence.
Felony and the Guilty Mind in Medieval England

August 12, 2019

Gordon and O'Donnell on The Power and Potential of Committed Legal Writing @DrexelKline

Deborah S. Gordon, Drexel University School of Law, and Kait O'Donnell have published Of Skepticism, Illegitimacy, and Fools: The Power and Potential of Committed Legal Writing. Here is the abstract.
The law is once again facing a legitimacy crisis—one brought into full relief during Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, wherein the future of the independent judiciary was, if not decimated, at least hotly debated. Though this current crisis may be novel in its precise implications, such crises are not new. Indeed, skepticism concerning the legitimacy of the law and the act of lawyering has been leveled at the profession from its beginnings. Nevertheless, the divisiveness of our current political and social climate has given the issue fresh meaning. How can legal practitioners and participants respond to this crisis without perpetuating a cycle of cynicism? This article argues for an increased reliance on several skeptics of the law—William Shakespeare and Simone de Beauvoir among them—to help realign our understanding of what contemporary legal actors—and legal writers in particular—can do in the face of illegitimacy. It draws on these classic thinkers to propose a model of “committed legal writing” that advocates for disrupting illegitimate modes of legal reasoning with a goal of restoring legitimacy to legal practice more generally.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

August 7, 2019

Santamaria on Foucault and Modern Law: A Review

Gerardo del Cerro Santamaria has published Foucault and Modern Law: A Review at 26 Foucault Studies 111 (June 2019). Here is the abstract.
Professor Jacopo Martire’s book, A Foucauldian Interpretation of Modern Law. From Sovereignty to Normalisation and Beyond deserves careful attention. The book represents the author’s project of making Foucault’s thought compatible with modern legal theory. Dr. Martire (from the University of Bristol) tries to put together and reconcile two seemingly incompatible approaches to understanding the workings of modern society. Jürgen Habermas’s forceful critique of Foucault still looms large. Other traditional interpretations of Foucault’s work have emphasized “the expulsion thesis,” that is, the fact that Foucault, relying too much on discipline and governmentality, effectively expelled law from the locus of power and excessively downplayed the role of law in our times.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Kerr on The Perfect Opinion @GeorgetownLaw

Andrew Jensen Kerr, Georgetown University Law Center, has published The Perfect Opinion. Here is the abstract.
In this Article I collate favorite judicial opinions to inductively derive an archetype of perfection. The question of which opinions we like the most is decidedly subjective, but it also reveals implied preferences for creative judging that might not register on citation counts or be prioritized when editing casebooks. Importantly, our choice of a favorite reflects something about *us*. So why do judges often select non-authoritative opinions (alternative concurrences, or dissents) or no-citation opinions (that don’t cite to prior case law) when asked of their favorite opinion? We might predict that most judges would select, for example, a Cardozo majority opinion that deftly marshals a wide swath of precedent to justify a remarkable turn in the doctrine. Instead it seems that at least some judges share a critical perspective that citation is a “mask hiding other considerations” , and regard over-citation with caution. Despite innovative thinking from academics like Frederick Schauer on the nature and use of authority, this topic remains under-theorized. I contribute to this literature by making a novel observation about implicit authority. Judges who rely on first principles reasoning are making both an empirical claim that these principles inform our positive law, and a normative claim that these principles are in fact a better reflection of our law than the “ordinary legal materials” (case law, etc.) we have to work with. This intellectual move requires tacit knowledge and feel, and so it’s not surprising these opinions write so effortlessly. These above-great opinions together limn an archetype of perfection that we can use as an ideal form. Not surprisingly, this theorizing echoes the work of Ronald Dworkin, who built his own normative theory of perfection in the construct of Hercules. None of us can be him. But perhaps one of our own has enjoyed the herculean moment. This Article searches for it.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Damodaran on Resistance to Power as Depicted in the Hacker Wars

Saigopal AP Damodaran, Christ College, has published Resistance To Power as Depicted in the Hacker Wars at 7 IMPACT: International Journal of Research in Humanities, Arts and Literature 51 (June 2019). Here is the abstract.
The Hacker Wars(2014) is a documentary film directed by Vivien Lesnik Weisman. This documentary film focuses on hackers, specifically hacktivists and their battles against the US government over surveillance, privacy and who should hold information. The film tells the story of three prominent faces in the hacktivist movement. They are Andrew Aurenheimer, known by his hacker handle Weev, Barrett Brown, a journalist and propagandist for the hacker group, Anonymous and Jeremy Hammond who was known by his hacker handle, Anarchaos. There is the fourth character Sabu, a hacker who turned informant to the FBI and help nab these hackers. This paper will look at this documentary film and try to understand the way resistance to power is carried out in the cyberspace and what is the discourse these dissenters subscribe to and also briefly look at how these resistances are confronted. To do so, this paper will employ the ideas of Michel Foucault on power, discourse and resistance.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

August 6, 2019

Newly Published: The Media Method: Teaching Law With Popular Culture

Available August 16, 2019: The Media Method: Teaching Law With Popular Culture (Christine A. Corcos, ed., Durham, Carolina Academic Press, 2019). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
Many law professors now teach courses by using examples from popular culture, but there is no comprehensive overview of ways to integrate non-law materials into the legal curriculum. In this text, more than two dozen law professors from the United States, Canada, and Australia demonstrate how to integrate fiction, poetry, comic books, film, television, music, and other media through the first year curriculum traditionally offered in U.S. law schools as well as a number of advanced courses in many subjects. The heavily illustrated book also includes best practices as well as pedagogical justifications for the use of such methods.
Here is a link to the table of contents.

The Media Method book jacket

Authors of the twenty-seven chapters are Michael Asimow, Cynthia D. Bond, Alex Glashausser, Cassandra Sharp, Deborah Ahrens, Susanna Frederick Fischer, Marybeth Herald, Stacey M. Lantagne, Richard J. Peltz-Steele, Jeffrey E. Thomas, Brandon Beck, Catherine Martin Christopher, DeLeith Duke Gossett, Brie D. Sherwin, Nancy Soonpaa, Sha-Shana Crichton, JoAnne Sweeny, Stephen Parks, Paul Bergman, Christine A. Corcos, Robert M. Jarvis, Madeleine June Kass, Kellyn O. McGee, Geraldine Szott Moohr, Jennifer L. Schulz, Kate Sutherland, 
Priya Baskaran, Laila Hlass, Allison Kron, Sarah Sherman-Stokes, Wendy-Adele Humphrey, Terri LeClercq, Kelly E. Collinsworth, and Rebecca Bratspies.

Newly published: Frank O. Bowman, High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump (Cambridge, 2019)

Newly published: Frank O. Bowman, III, High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump (Cambridge University Press, 2019). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
For the third time in forty-five years, America is talking about impeaching a president, but the impeachment provisions of the American constitution are widely misunderstood. In High Crimes and Misdemeanors, constitutional scholar Frank O. Bowman, III offers unprecedented clarity to the question of impeachment, tracing its roots to medieval England through its adoption in the Constitution and 250 years of American experience. By examining the human and political history of those who have faced impeachment, Bowman demonstrates that the Framers intended impeachment to be a flexible tool, adaptable to the needs of any age. Written in a lively, engaging style, the book combines a deep historical and constitutional analysis of the impeachment clauses, a coherent theory of when impeachment should be used to protect constitutional order against presidential misconduct, and a comprehensive presentation of the case for and against impeachment of President Trump. It is an indispensable work for the present moment.

High Crimes and Misdemeanors 

August 5, 2019

Sassoubre on Realism and Melodrama in American Film Since "Birth of a Nation"

Ticien Marie Sassoubre, Stanford Law School, is publishing Knowing It When We See It: Realism and Melodrama in American Film Since 'Birth of a Nation' in Trial Films on Trial: Law, Justice, and Popular Culture, Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press (Austin Sarat, Jessica Silbey & Martha Umphrey, Eds., Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, (2019).
In American film, official law tends to be indifferent, bureaucratic, and corruptible, constantly threatening to produce injustice. In contrast, “justice” is individual, unambiguous and readily accessible. As a result, seeing justice done often requires extralegal intervention. Films offer alternate trials in which apparently realistic but emotionally charged representations of personal experience, rather than legal procedure and evidentiary standards, determine guilt or innocence. The fairness of the verdict in the filmic alternate trial is measured not by the standard of due process, but by the viewer’s moral sense. Nevertheless, as Carol Clover has observed, the narrative substructure of both the Anglo-American trial and mainstream film bear a striking resemblance. I argue that this resemblance arises from a common set of assumptions about narrative plausibility and the social world: the conventions that govern mainstream film are also the (largely unspoken) conventions of credibility and verifiability in legal discourse. Filmic alternate trials follow realist rules of evidence but articulates an underlying epistemology that is fundamentally melodramatic. They have done so at least since D. W. Griffith’s deeply influential “Birth of a Nation” (1915), and they continue to do so today. And these melodramatic trials of our social realities inform our perception in legal and non-legal settings in ways that are so familiar they have become invisible to us.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

August 2, 2019

Quinta Jurecic on the Mueller Report as Detective Story @qjurecic @lawfareblog @lawfarepodcast

Quinta Jurecic, managing editor of Lawfare, compares the Mueller Report to a detective story, here, for the New York Times. She writes in part,
When the Mueller report was released, commentators reviewed it not only as a political and legal work but also as another genre: literature. In The Washington Post, Carlos Lozada described the report as “the best book by far on the workings of the Trump presidency.” Michiko Kakutani wrote in The Columbia Journalism Review that it held “the visceral drama of a detective novel, spy thriller, or legal procedural.” Laura Miller of Slate found it to be a work of “palace intrigues.”
The theatrical focus is a little much. But the literary critics are onto something. The report tells what is probably one of the biggest stories of our lifetimes — and understanding that narrative as a narrative can help make sense of the confused political moment. Exploring the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the writer Don DeLillo described in his novel “Libra” the endless work of sleuthing new information on the president’s death as an effort to draft the “book of America” — the novel “in which nothing is left out.” The same might be said of the Mueller report.
Susan Hennessey also hosts a podcast for Lawfare: The Report.

Simard on Slavery's Legalism: Lawyers and the Commercial Routine of Slavery @WillametteLaw

Justin Simard, Willamette University College of Law; Northwestern University; American Bar Foundation; has published Slavery's Legalism: Lawyers and the Commercial Routine of Slavery at 37 Law and History Review 571 (2019). Here is the abstract.
Elite southern lawyers professed and demonstrated commitment to a vision of legal practice and decisionmaking that they shared with their northern colleagues, even as legal arguments over slavery and secession played out contentiously in politics and the courts. This vision was rooted, not in commitments to slavery, free labor, or economic development but rather in legalism, characterized by commitment to legal rules and reasoning, and legal practice, distinguished by dedication to routine commercial work. Insulated from many of the political and economic conflicts of the antebellum era, a national legal culture allowed southern lawyers to serve as economic intermediaries between North and South. This article examines this culture through a study of the career of the Georgia lawyer E.A. Nisbet. During his legal education, time on the Georgia Supreme Court, and work as a private lawyer Nisbet demonstrated a consistent commitment to a technical American legal culture that allowed elite southern lawyers like him to support slavery in subtle but important ways.
The full text is not available for download.

July 31, 2019

Murray on Zero Tolerance @murrayyxta

Yxta Maya Murray, Loyola Law School, is publishing Zero Tolerance in the Texas Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy. Here is the abstract.
Zero Tolerance is a legal-literary work in which the author seeks to understand the motivations and thought processes of immigration detention agents who have participated in separating families at the border. It is a work of fiction, which is part of a collection of short stories titled Americas. Conventional legal scholarship, such as that written by Josh Chafetz, David E. Pozen, and Jennifer Nou, has addressed radical or troubling shifts in norms, which scholars describe as “norm destruction” and “norm decomposition.” This story treats norm destruction in the context of atrocities committed in immigrant detention centers in furtherance of the Attorney General’s “zero tolerance policy” against illegal immigration. It is part of a larger project that addresses the political and jurisprudential catastrophes of the past several years through the expressiveness permitted by art.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

July 25, 2019

Belliveau on Law-and-Literature Workpiece: A Montage of the Law

S. Belliveau has published Law-as-Literature Workpiece: a Montage of the Law. Here is the abstract.
This paper depicts law through prosaic and photographic montage. In matters of law, every interpretation necessarily concerns a claim in right to administer violence through enforcement. Montage as form in writing about law gives a greater scope for interpretation to the reader, more so than traditional narrative. This work incorporates elements of literary and photographic montage as developed by John Heartfield and Walter Benjamin, and as described by Siegfried Kracauer and Walter Benjamin. The Frankfurt School's perspective on critical theory informs montage in this paper.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

July 24, 2019

Donelson on Oliver Wendell Holmes as Nihilist @LSULawCenter

Raff Donelson, Louisiana State University, has published The Nihilist at The Pragmatism and Prejudice of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 31-48 (Seth Vannatta, ed. Lexington Press 2019). Here is the abstract.
Scattered skeptical remarks and a general austerity that infused his writings have given Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes a reputation as some type of nihilist. Noted commentators such as Richard Posner and Albert Alschuler have claimed as much. This article seeks to correct this misunderstanding. Holmes was not a nihilist in the sense of being melancholy due to a belief that the world has no absolute moral values or gods. Instead, Holmes was a pragmatist in the spirit of William James and John Dewey. While Holmes had doubts about moral truth and deities, he ultimately thought that their existence (or non-existence) should have no bearing on our behavior or the law. We must, through our collective efforts, find values that work for us.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

Baude and Sachs on Originalism and the Law of the Past @WilliamBaude @StephenESachs

William Baude, University of Chicago Law School, and Stephen E. Sachs, Duke University School of Law, are publishing Originalism and the Law of the Past in volume 37 of the Law and History Review (2019). Here is the abstract.
Originalism has long been criticized for its “law office history” and other historical sins. But a recent “positive turn” in originalist thought may help make peace between history and law. On this theory, originalism is best understood as a claim about our modern law—which borrows many of its rules, constitutional or otherwise, from the law of the past. Our law happens to be the Founders’ law, unless lawfully changed. This theory has three important implications for the role of history in law. First, whether and how past law matters today is a question of current law, not of history. Second, applying that current law may often require deference to historical expertise, but for a more limited inquiry: one that looks specifically at legal doctrines and instruments, interprets those instruments in artificial ways, and makes use of evidentiary principles and default rules when the history is obscure. Third, ordinary legal reasoning already involves the application of old law to new facts, an inquiry that might other-wise seem daunting or anachronistic. Applying yesterday’s “no vehicles in the park” ordinance is no less fraught—and no more so—than applying Founding-era legal doctrines.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

July 23, 2019

Cavanagh on Metaphorical Assessments of Royal Power in Transitional Periods of Monarchy @edward_cavanagh

Edward Cavanagh, University of Cambridge, has published Flowers of the Crown in English Legal Thought: Metaphorical Assessments of Royal Power in Transitional Periods of Monarchy at 6 Royal Studies Journal 38 (2019). Here is the abstract.
This article connects legal history with cultural and intellectual approaches to the history of late medieval England by focusing on the expression, ‘flowers of the crown.’ Believed to have originated in the early Stuart period, this article locates its origins much earlier. After the Angevin kings showed a liking for floriated crowns, a number of poets, clerics, and common lawyers worked flowers into their appraisals of monarchy throughout the fifteenth century. Up to the Stuarts, this metaphor was sometimes helpful for reminding grantees that prerogative donations and delegations, like flowers, cannot be guaranteed to last forever, and indeed eventually die once plucked from their source. This is a finding that prompts consideration of the circumstances that have compelled jurists and politicians to invoke metaphors in their assessments of royal power more generally. In turn, new insights are generated about the crown in modern English thought.
The full text is not available for download from SSRN.

Lino on A. V. Dicey and the Rule of Law and the Rule of Empire

Dylan Lino, University of Western Australia Law School, has published The Rule of Law and the Rule of Empire: A.V. Dicey in Imperial Context at 81 Modern Law Review 739 (2018). Here is the abstract.
The idea of the rule of law, more ubiquitous globally today than ever before, owes a lasting debt to the work of Victorian legal theorist A.V. Dicey. But for all of Dicey’s influence, very little attention has been paid to the imperial entanglements of his thought, including on the rule of law. This article seeks to bring the imperial dimensions of Dicey’s thinking about the rule of law into view. On Dicey’s account, the rule of law represented a distinctive English civilisational achievement, one that furnished a liberal justification for British imperialism. And yet Dicey was forced to acknowledge that imperial rule at times required arbitrariness and formal inequality at odds with the rule of law. At a moment when the rule of law has once more come to license all sorts of transnational interventions by globally powerful political actors, Dicey’s preoccupations and ambivalences are in many ways our own.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

July 22, 2019

Call For Editors: European Society for Comparative Legal History @esclh

The European Society for Comparative Legal History has issued a Call For Editors. Here is the Call.

The ESCLH is seeking applications for talented and dedicated scholars to join the editorial board of our flagship Journal, Comparative Legal History.
We are particularly interested in one or more Editor, Articles Editor and Copy-editor. Evidence of scholarly ability, experience in editing or a willingness to learn quickly, and membership (or a commitment to become a member if appointed) of the ESCLH are requirements, but full training in the journal's processes will be provided as needed.
You would become part of an outstanding tradition of scholars (for example, our first and excellent Editors, Sean Donlan and Heikki Pihlajamäki) and contribute to the advancement of comparative legal history as part of a warm, supportive and dedicated team.
Applications, with a brief cover letter and short CV (no more than 4 pages) should be sent to Matthew Dyson, (President of the ESCLH) by 15 October 2019.\
This position is not paid.

CFP: Volume on Law, Authorship, and Appropriation

Call for papers for a volume on law, authorship, and appropriation. We are seeking papers from 10,000 to 40,000 words on any aspect of law, authorship, and appropriation, including the intersection of freedom of expression and copyright, history of authorship, defenses to copyright infringement, appropriation vs. theft, plagiarism and originality in creation, cultural appropriation, digital sampling and the law, wearable technology and IP, and related topics. Do terms like "author" and "creator" continue to have meaning? Abstracts are due no later than September 30, 2019. Finished papers are due no later than January 1, 2020. If you are interested or have questions about the project, please contact Christine Corcos at

Wells on Adolf A. Berle and the Modern Legal Profession

Harwell Wells, Temple University Beasley School of Law, has published 'All Lawyers are Somewhat Suspect': Adolf A. Berle and the Modern Legal Profession at 42 Seattle University Law Review 641 (2019). Here is the abstract.
Adolf A. Berle was perhaps the preeminent scholar of the modern corporation. He was also an occasional scholar of the modern legal profession. This article surveys his writings on the legal profession from the 1930s to the 1960s, from the sharp criticisms he leveled at lawyers, particularly corporate lawyers, during the Great Depression, to his sunnier account of the lawyer’s role in the postwar era. I argue that Berle’s views were shaped both by the reformist tradition he inherited from Louis Brandeis and his writings on the corporation, which left him convinced that the fate of the legal profession would be determined by that of the modern corporation.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

July 19, 2019

VanderVelde on Servitude and Captivity in the Common Law of Master-Servant: Judicial Interpretations of the Thirteenth Amendment's Labor Vision Immediately After Its Enactment

Lea S. VanderVelde, University of Iowa College of Law, is publishing Servitude and Captivity in the Common Law of Master-Servant: Judicial Interpretations of the Thirteenth Amendment's Labor Vision Immediately after its Enactment in volume 27 of the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal. Here is the abstract.
In the 19th century, the American common law of master and servant was a system of subordination principles designed to command and capture the labor of workers. Blackstone’s Commentaries was the received common law, from the nation’s early days through the settlement of new states in the American West. Blackstone’s Chapter 14, organized the legal rules into a system of subordination as formal inequality. As the system’s foundation, Blackstone used slavery, rather than partnership or voluntary free labor. Thus, when the nation abolished slavery by the 13th Amendment, the structure’s foundation was implicitly undermined. Moreover, during Reconstruction, the Radical Republicans, who dominated the post-War Congress, engaged in a sweeping anti-subordination agenda marked by multiple reform initiatives. Oppressive labor systems that they found to be slave-like were deemed “anti-republican.” An egalitarian, leveling ethos held sway as Reconstruction brought about a revolution in basic rights. Yet, this ethos did not find its way into a revision of all of the subordinating principles in the nation’s common law of master and servant. In the years immediately after its enactment, the anti-subordination agenda lost ground. The 13th Amendment was subject to different interpretations as state courts, analogized more broadly or narrowly, depending upon their state’s position as a former slave state or free state. As a result, the nation’s received common law was never completely reordered upon a new foundation of fully free labor.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

July 17, 2019

Newly Published: A Cultural History of Law, edited by Gary Watt (Bloomsbury Publishing) @BloomsburyPub @warwickuni

Newly published: A Cultural History of Law (Gary Watt, ed., Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019) (The Cultural Histories Series). Six volumes.
How have legal ideas and institutions affected Western culture? And how has the law itself been shaped by its cultural context? In a work spanning 4,500 years, these questions are addressed by 57 experts, each contributing an authoritative study of a theme applied to a period in history. Supported by detailed case material and over 230 illustrations, the volumes examine trends and nuances of the culture of law in Western societies from antiquity to the present. Individual volume editors ensure the cohesion of the whole, and to make it as easy as possible to use, chapter titles are identical across each of the volumes. This gives the choice of reading about a specific period in one of the volumes, or following a theme across history by reading the relevant chapter in each of the six. The six volumes cover: 1 - Antiquity (2500 BCE-500 CE); 2 - Middle Ages (500-1500); 3 - Early Modern Age (1500-1680); 4 - Age of Enlightenment (1680-1820); 5 - Age of Reform (1820-1920); 6 - Modern Age (1920-present). Themes (and chapter titles) are: Justice; Constitution; Codes; Agreements; Arguments; Property and Possession; Wrongs; and the Legal Profession. The total page extent for the pack is approximately 1200 pages. Each volume opens with a Series Preface, an Introduction and Notes on Contributors and concludes with Notes, Bibliography and an Index.

Includes Volume 1, A Cultural History of Law in Antiquity (Julien Etxabe, ed.), Volume 2, A Cultural History of Law in the Middle Ages (Emanuele Conte, ed.), Volume 3, A Cultural History of Law in the Early Modern Age (Peter Goodrich, ed.), Volume 4, A Cultural History of Law in the Age of Enlightenment (Rebecca Probert, ed.), Volume 5, A Cultural History of Law in the Age of Reform (Ian Ward, ed.), and Volume 6, A Cultural History of Law in the Modern Age (Richard K. Sherwin and Danielle Celemajer, eds.).

July 16, 2019

Arlyck on The Founders' Forfeiture

Kevin Arlyck, Georgetown University Law Center, is publishing The Founders' Forfeiture in the Columbia Law Review (2019). Here is the abstract.
Civil forfeiture is, in a word, controversial. Critics allege that law enforcement authorities use forfeiture as means of appropriating valuable assets from often-innocent victims free of the constraints of criminal process. Yet despite recent statutory reforms, a significant obstacle to meaningful change remains: Under longstanding Supreme Court precedent, the Constitution imposes few limits on civil forfeiture. Relying on a perceived historical tradition of unfettered government power to seize and keep private property in response to legal violations, the Court has consistently rejected claims to constitutional protections. Faced with an unfriendly historical tradition, forfeiture’s critics have tried to limit history’s relevance by asserting that forfeiture was traditionally used for limited purposes, but such arguments have fallen on deaf ears. As this Article explains, forfeiture’s critics are right, but for the wrong reasons. Based on original research into more than 500 unpublished federal forfeiture cases from 1789 to 1807, this Article shows — for the first time — that forfeiture in the Founding era was significantly constrained. But not by judges. Instead, concern over forfeiture’s potential to impose massive penalties for minor and technical legal violations spurred Alexander Hamilton and the First Congress to establish executive-branch authority to return seized property to those who plausibly claimed a lack of fraudulent intent. What is more, Hamilton and subsequent Treasury Secretaries understood themselves to be obligated to exercise that authority to its fullest extent — which they did, remitting forfeitures in over 90% of cases presented to them. The result was an early forfeiture regime that was expansive in theory, but in practice was constrained by a deep belief in the impropriety of taking property from those who inadvertently broke the law. Understanding early forfeiture’s true nature has significant implications for current debate about its proper limits. The existence of meaningful constraints in the Founding era calls into question key historical propositions underlying the Court’s permissive modern jurisprudence, and suggests that history may offer an affirmative basis for identifying greater constitutional protections today. This is also an opportune moment to reexamine forfeiture’s historical bona fides. In addition to a growing public outcry over civil forfeiture, there are hints that members of the current Supreme Court may be willing to reconsider its constitutionality.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Zietlow on Slavery, Liberty, and the Right to Contract @ProfessorRZ

Rebecca E. Zietlow, University of Toledo College of Law, is publishing Slavery, Liberty and the Right to Contract in volume 19 of the Nevada Law Journal (2019). Here is the abstract.
This article explores what the right to contract meant to slaves, free blacks and northern workers before and after the Civil War, to uncover the lost history of liberty of contract under the Thirteenth Amendment. By abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude, the Thirteenth Amendment transformed United States labor law and expanded rights for all workers. Until then, the slave had been at the center of United States labor law, and the paradigm of labor law was unfree labor. The Thirteenth Amendment and other Reconstruction measures established a new paradigm: the autonomous worker with liberty of contract. Today, liberty of contract is most often invoked by conservatives and libertarians, who argue that the right to contract entails a right to be free of government intervention. Scholars trace the Lochner libertarian right to contract to free labor ideology of the antislavery movement and the Reconstruction Era. Until now, the dominant model of liberty of contract is the individualist right to be free of government interference, embraced by the Supreme Court in Lochner v. New York. This article shows that to the contrary, the Thirteen Amendment based right to contract invites government intervention to empower workers exercising that right. The Reconstruction Congress invoked the Thirteenth Amendment as it intervened in employment contracts to protect not only their rights, but the rights of northern workers. Paradoxically, the Reconstruction Congress enacted precisely the type of regulations that the Lochner Era Court struck down as violating liberty of contract.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Craig on English Adrministrative Law History

Paul P. Craig, University of Oxford Faculty of Law, is publishing English Administrative Law History: Perception and Reality in Judicial Review in the Common Law World: Origins and Adaptations (S. Jhaveri and M. Ramsden, eds., forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
The history of English administrative law remains to be written. It is a task of considerable magnitude, given that it requires understanding of case law, regulatory legislation, government and politics spanning a period of circa 450 years. The task is more especially daunting given the range of different areas that were subject to governmental regulation broadly construed. It is, therefore, unsurprising that the intellectual task has not been fulfilled. This has not, however, translated into a dearth of opinion as to English administrative law history. To the contrary, as will be seen below, there are views in this regard, and some are strongly held. There is, as in any intellectual endeavour, the danger of an inverse relationship between the strength of a person’s conviction and the depth of their knowledge. This chapter is not a history of English administrative law, since that would, as noted, require a book in itself. It does, however, offer a lens through which to view two different conceptions of that history, which are termed perception and reality. These terms are admittedly tendentious, in the sense that they convey, by their very semantic meaning, my view as to the more accurate picture of administrative law as it developed over time. There is, however, nothing special in the use of language in this regard, since those who adhere to the opposite position deploy language that is equally tendentious. The discussion in this chapter is part of the larger study concerning the export and reception of administrative law in other common law jurisdictions. The effect of the disjunction between perception and reality on such export is interesting. The causation is contestable, and does not necessarily always pull in the same direction. Thus, perception of administrative law as being relatively modern may have hampered its development elsewhere, and at the same time encouraged other jurisdictions to feel freer in adapting its precepts to local circumstance. The essence of the argument presented over the following pages is as follows. The commonly held view about English administrative law is that it is of recent origin, some dating it from the mid-twentieth century, some venturing back to the late nineteenth century. This view, when unpacked, is premised on assumptions concerning doctrinal case law and regulation. There is an empirical and a normative foundation underlying both assumptions. This ‘intellectual package’ constitutes the commonly accepted picture of administrative law as it unfolded in England. This, then, is the perception, grounded in four central constructs concerning case law and regulation, viewed from an empirical and normative perspective. It is set out in the first part of the chapter. The discussion thereafter is concerned with what I term the reality. It mirrors the discourse concerning perception, insofar as it considers case law and regulation from both an empirical and normative perspective. It will be argued that the commonly held view does not cohere empirically with reality concerning case law or regulation, and that the normative assumptions underlying the perceived view do not square with the general approach of the legislature or the courts during the foundational period of administrative law, which runs from the mid-sixteenth century onwards, with earlier origins. This disjunction between perception and reality could have had an impact on the ultimate exportability of English administrative law. The chapter concludes with a sketch of the implications for comparative study of other jurisdictions. These implications are the subject of discussion in the remaining chapters of the volume.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

July 15, 2019

Call For Papers: Applied Feminism and Privacy, Twelfth Feminist Legal Theory Conference, April 2-3, 2020

The Center on Applied Feminism at the University of Baltimore School of Law seeks paper proposals for the Twelfth Feminist Legal Theory Conference. We hope you will join us for this exciting conference on April 2 and 3, 2020. The theme is Applied Feminism and Privacy. As always, the conference focuses on the intersection of gender and race, class, gender identity, ability, and other personal identities. Dr. Leana Wen, President and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, will deliver the Keynote.

The Center on Applied Feminism at the University of Baltimore School of Law seeks paper proposals for the Twelfth Feminist Legal Theory Conference. We hope you will join us for this exciting conference on April 2 and 3, 2020. The theme is Privacy. As always, the conference focuses on the intersection of gender and race, class, gender identity, ability, and other personal identities. We are excited that Dr. Leana Wen, President and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, has agreed to serve as our Keynote. We are at a critical time for a broad range of privacy issues. State level abortion bans have put a spotlight on the importance of decisional privacy to women’s equality. Across America, advocates are fighting for reproductive justice and strategizing to preserve long-settled rights. At the same time, our informational privacy is increasingly precarious. Data brokers, app designers, and social media platforms are gathering and selling personal data in highly gendered ways. As a result, women have been targeted with predatory marketing, intentionally excluded from job opportunities, and subject to menstrual tracking by marketers and employers. In online spaces, women have been objectified, cyber-stalked, and subject to revenge porn. With regard to physical privacy, the structural intersectionality of over-policing and mass incarceration impacts women of color and other women. And while a man’s home may be his castle, low-income women are expected to allow government agents into their homes – and to turn over reams of other personal information -- as a condition of receiving state support. In addition, families of all forms are navigating the space of constitutionally-protected family privacy in relation to legal parentage, marriage and cohabitation, and child welfare systems. We seek submissions of papers that focus on the topic of Applied Feminism and Privacy. We will interrogate multiple aspects of privacy, including its physical, decisional, informational, and family dimensions. This conference aims to explore the following questions: Is privacy dead, as often claimed? If so, what does this mean for women? How can privacy reinforce or challenge existing inequalities? How has feminist legal theory wrestled with privacy and what lessons can we draw from past debates? What advocacy will best advance privacy protections that benefit women? How do emerging forms of surveillance impact women? Can intersectional perspectives on privacy lead to greater justice? Who defines the “right to privacy” and what do those understandings mean for women? How is privacy related to other values, such as autonomy, anti-subordination, vulnerability, justice, and equality? We welcome proposals that consider these questions and any other related questions from a variety of substantive disciplines and perspectives. The Center’s conference will serve as a forum for scholars, practitioners, and activists to share ideas about applied feminism, focusing on connections between theory and practice to effectuate social change. The conference will be open to the public. To submit a paper proposal, by Friday, November 1, 2019, please complete this form and include your 500 word abstract: We will notify presenters of selected papers by early December. About half the presenter slots will be reserved for authors who commit to publishing in the annual symposium volume of the University of Baltimore Law Review, our co-sponsor for this conference. Thus, the form requests that you indicate if you are interested in publishing in the University of Baltimore Law Review's symposium issue. Authors who are interested in publishing in the Law Review will be strongly considered for publication. The decision about publication rests solely with the Law Review editors, who will communicate separately with the authors. For all presenters, working drafts of papers will be due no later than March 20, 2020. Presenters are responsible for their own travel costs; the conference will provide a discounted hotel rate as well as meals. We look forward to your submissions. If you have further questions, please contact Prof. Margaret Johnson at For additional information about the conference, please visit

July 9, 2019

The Ninth Circuit Weighs In On GoT @GameofThrones

In the recently decided case Banks v. Northern Trust Corp., the Ninth Circuit made reference to Game of Thrones by writing,

Northern would like us to read Dabit without considering its clarification in Troice. But we will not render Troice meaningless the way that Game of Thrones rendered the entire Night King storyline meaningless in its final season. Troice directly supports our conclusion that a trustee’s misconduct – over which a beneficiary of an irrevocable trust has no control – cannot constitute misconduct “in connection with” the sale of covered securities where “the only party who decides to buy or sell a covered security as a result of a lie is the [trustee].” Troice, 571 U.S. at 388. To use the language in Troice, the trustee is both the buyer and the “fraudster”; because the trustee can deceive only itself with any alleged misconduct, its misconduct does not require SLUSA preclusion. 

Take that, GoT showrunners.

Gouzoules on The Diverging Right(s) To Bear Arms

Alexander Gouzoules is publishing The Diverging Right(s) to Bear Arms: Private Armament and the Second and Fourteenth Amendments in Historical Context in volume 18 of the University of Alabama Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review (2019). Here is the abstract.
This article compares the historical evolution of the social understanding of private armament with contemporary legal doctrine on the right to bear arms. The District of Columbia v. Heller decision, which held that the Second Amendment protects a personal right to self-defense, and the McDonald v. City of Chicago decision, which held the Second Amendment to be incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment, both turned on extensive historical analysis. But by reading a broad “individual right to self-defense” into both the Second and Fourteenth Amendments, the Court assumed continuity between the social understandings at the time of these amendments’ respective ratifications. This assumed continuity is belied by the changing roles private weaponry played in American society. This article analyzes the historical development of the ideology of private armament between 1791 and 1868. While the framers of the Second Amendment were motivated by their suspicion of professional standing armies and their preference for citizen militias, the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment harbored no such beliefs and were strongly committed to the vitality of the U.S. Army. And while the arms right established by the Second Amendment may be described as primarily embodying libertarian political principles, the arms right embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment cannot be similarly viewed. Instead, civilian armament after the Civil War served both to protect newly freed African Americans in the South and also to expropriate land from indigenous peoples in the West — two goals that envisioned close cooperation between civilians and federal authorities. These radically different understandings can only be reconciled by defining the right to bear arms at such a high level of generality as to overlook the actual intentions of both amendments’ framers, thus undermining the project of originalism to which these contemporary decisions were ostensibly committed.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. (Correct link provided. Link in SSRN journal is incorrect).

July 8, 2019

Journal for Civil Rights and Economic Development:CFP: Navigating the Laws of Fashion: Professional Appearances in the Legal Field

Journal for Civil Rights and Economic Development

Navigating the Laws of Fashion: Professional Appearances in the Legal Field

              Presentation is everything, especially in the legal field: how you speak, where you went to law school, and how you dress or style your hair. Still true today is the fact that women face more challenges with presentation than men. Serious critique of women’s appearances is an unfortunate reality for many female lawyers. People conflate how women dress and style their hair with how well they do their job. Judges and juries form opinions of female attorneys based solely on their looks and attire. Women face an impossible obstacle: look good, but not too good; pay attention to your appearance, but do not be too obvious about it; be different, but about the same as everyone else. Even local and state bar associations and law schools sponsor events about attire and presentation, including events on “properly applying make-up.” These challenges and criticisms can be even greater for women of color or LGBTQ women.

              These criticisms have continued to spark heated discussions about sexism and gender inequality in the legal field. The Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development invites enthusiastic scholars, commentators, and practitioners who wish to add their voice to these discussions and present a perspective on this topic.

              The Journal for Civil Rights and Economic Development and the Ron Brown Center for Civil Rights invite you to be part of our exploration.

We welcome full-length traditional law review articles with a maximum of 75 pages, as well as shorter essays and commentaries with a minimum of 10 pages. Authors will be selected based on brief abstracts of their articles, essays, or commentaries. We aim for an array of perspectives, methodologies, and expertise.

To submit, please send:
  • Your name, title, and professional affiliation;
  • Your curriculum vitae/resume;
  • Your contact details including phone number and email address;
  • A two to three page abstract summarizing your essay or article and indicating what your expected page length will be.

Optional: Full Manuscripts are also welcome
  • Manuscript between 25 and 75 pages for full-length articles and between 10 and 20 pages for essays and commentaries.

Please submit your abstract (or manuscript/essay/commentary) for consideration to:

Submission Deadlines:
Abstract Deadline: August 15, 2019
Selected Author Notification Date: September 15, 2019
Essay/Book Review Deadline: December 31, 2019

If you have any questions about this call for papers or the Journal, please contact the Editor-in-Chief, Hunter Igoe, at

July 3, 2019

Reposted: Call For Papers, Prison Abolition, Human Rights, and Penal Reform: From the Local to the Global

Reposted: Call For Papers 

Prison Abolition, Human Rights, and Penal Reform:
From the Local to the Global

Mass incarceration and overcriminalization in the United States are subject to critique by some on both the right and the left today. Many critics increasingly talk of prison abolition. At the same time, the international human rights movement continues to rely upon criminal punishment as its primary enforcement tool for many violations, even as it criticizes harsh prison conditions, the use of the death penalty, and lack of due process in criminal proceedings. What would it mean for the human rights movement to take seriously calls for prison abolitionism and the economic and racial inequalities that overcriminalization reproduces and exacerbates? And what might critics of the carceral regime in the United States have to learn from work done by international human rights advocates in a variety of countries?

September 26-28th, 2019, the Rapoport Center will host in Austin an interdisciplinary conference to consider the relationships among the human rights, prison abolition, and penal reform movements. Do they share the same goals? Should they collaborate? If so, in what ways? The conference is co-sponsored by the Frances Tarlton “Sissy” Farenthold Endowed Lecture Series in Peace, Social Justice and Human Rights, Center for European Studies, William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, John Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, Department of Sociology, Center for Population Research, and Capital Punishment Center.

Ruth Wilson Gilmore will offer the keynote lecture on September 26. We invite proposals for papers, panels, art, or other forms of presentation from activists, practitioners, and scholars in all disciplines. We are eager to include those who study or advocate around criminal law and human rights in different regions and contexts, those who work on various forms of incarceration (including immigration detention), and those who explore alternatives to current criminal punishment regimes. We encourage discussion of the distributive effects of various constructions of and responses to crime. Topics might include:
  • Racial capitalism and prison abolition
  • Prison abolition: short- versus long-term goals
  • Abolition and efforts to reform/transform conditions of confinement: are they in opposition?
  • Capital punishment, human rights, and the goals of death penalty abolition
  • Mass incarceration and surveillance
  • Gender, sexuality, reproductive rights and the prison system
  • Human rights and decriminalization
  • The human rights movement and national and international criminal law
  • Lessons from transitional and restorative justice
  • Incarceration and the intersections of criminal and immigration law
  • Immigration detention and the (private) prison industrial complex
  • Potential responses to violent crime
  • The UN and crime
  • Exportation of criminal justice models: good and bad
  • The role of victims in carceral regimes and anti-carceral responses
  •  Reflections on the role human rights courts do and should play in the carceral state
  • Black Lives Matter, human rights, and abolition
  • Queer politics and abolition

Please send an abstract of your paper, panel, or project in under 500 words to Sarah Eliason by July 15, 2019. A limited number of need-based travel grants are available to support travel costs for selected participants. If you wish to apply for a travel grant, please complete this application form by July 15, 2019.