May 31, 2019

Newly Published: Jonathan Crowe, Natural Law and the Nature of Law (Cambridge UP, 2019) @CambridgeCore @CambridgeUP

Jonathan Crowe, Bond University School of Law, has published Natural Law and the Nature of Law (Cambridge University Press, 2019). Here is the abstract.
This book provides the first systematic, book-length defence of natural law ideas in ethics, politics and jurisprudence since John Finnis's influential Natural Law and Natural Rights. Incorporating insights from recent work in ethical, legal and social theory, it presents a robust and original account of the natural law tradition, challenging common perceptions of natural law as a set of timeless standards imposed on humans from above. Natural law, Jonathan Crowe argues, is objective and normative, but nonetheless historically extended, socially embodied and dependent on contingent facts about human nature. It reflects the ongoing human quest to work out how best to live flourishing lives, given the natures we have and the social environments we inhabit. The nature and purpose of law can only be adequately understood within this wider context of value. Timely, wide-ranging and clearly written, this volume will appeal to those working in law, philosophy and religious studies.

Natural Law and the Nature of Law 

May 28, 2019

Corcos on What We Talk About When We Talk About Law Schools @LpcProf @HedgehogsFoxes

Christine A. Corcos, Louisiana State University Law Center, has published What We Talk About When We Talk About Law Schools: Deconstructing Meaning In Popular Culture Images of Legal Education at Hedgehogs and Foxes. Here is the abstract.
Films, television, and novels often send us very specific messages about law schools and legal education that tend to replicate and reinforce both general notions about the ways in which we educate our lawyers, and in turn sustain our legal system. Most movies, tv shows, and novels mention the Ivy League law schools because they represent the first step toward guaranteed achievement in a legal career. Such mentions serve as proxies for several things, including that the character who attended the school is intelligent, ambitious, and possibly from a privileged background. Even viewers who know little about law schools are familiar with U.S. News Rankings and what those rankings mean. Viewers understand that Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Stanford lead the list. They know that these schools are the most selective and prestigious. If popular culture characters attend, graduate from, or teach at these schools, then they are likely to be smart, or wealthy, or ambitious.
Download the article from SSRN or from the website at the links.

AALS Section on Legal History Posts Call for Papers For Section Program, 2020 AALS Annual Meeting

The AALS Section on Legal History is pleased to announce a call for papers for its section program, which will be held during the 2020 AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. The program is entitled “A Century of Women’s Suffrage.”

2020 marks one hundred years since the 19th Amendment was ratified, ushering in the last century of women’s suffrage in the United States. This program will bring together scholars writing on the history of women’s suffrage, broadly construed. Submissions should relate to any aspect of women’s suffrage, including exploring the suffrage movement that culminated in the 19th Amendment, addressing how the 19th Amendment affected political parties or politics in the subsequent century, and comparing the women’s suffrage movement to analogous social movements.

Eligibility and Submission Requirements: This Call for Papers is open to all faculty members from AALS member schools. Submissions should not exceed 30,000 words, including footnotes. You may submit a CV as well, but are not required to do so.

Submission Process: To be considered for participation as a panelist, please email a copy of your submission to Evan Zoldan at by July 31, 2019. Participants selected by the Legal History section executive committee will be notified by September 1, 2019.

Questions: If you have any questions about the panel, please contact Evan Zoldan at  A link to the CFP can be found on the AALS website, here:

Bhagwat on Judge Johnson and the Kaleidoscopic First Amendment @AlaLawReview

Ashutosh Avinash Bhagwat, University of California, Davis, School of Law, is publishing Judge Johnson and the Kaleidoscopic First Amendment in the Alabama Law Review. Here is the abstract.
Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr.’s decision in Williams v. Wallace, in which Judge Johnson issued an opinion which permitted the Selma March to proceed despite unremitting opposition from local and state authorities, is now a settled part of American history. Furthermore, today few question the underlying correctness of the decision. But in fact, seen in the wider context of modern First Amendment jurisprudence, Judge Johnson’s decision was remarkable. Just how remarkable it was becomes apparent when it is contrasted with a decision of the United States Supreme Court just a year later, Adderly v. Florida, in which the Court upheld the trespass convictions of participants in a civil rights protest on the grounds of a county jail. Adderly, authored by that most vociferous defender of civil rights and liberties Justice Hugo Black, demonstrates that the modern First Amendment has rarely been interpreted to require access by protestors to public property when that access might interfere with its regular uses. Yet in Williams Judge Johnson authorized a 54 mile long march by 25,000 protestors along a public highway! Why did Judge Johnson rule as he did, in the face of precedent and judicial norms? Part of the answer has to lie in the unique back-history of the March, which included stunning acts of violence and brutality on the part of officials and the KKK. But there was a constitutional insight driving Judge Johnson’s decision as well, one that Justice Black missed. The opinion in Williams v. Wallace demonstrates an understanding of two fundamental points about the First Amendment that the modern Supreme Court (beginning, in a very meaningful way, in Adderly itself) has forgotten. The first is that the First Amendment protects multiple political rights, not just free speech. The second is that these rights, though related, are distinct and cumulative. More specifically, Judge Johnson recognized that what was at issue in the Selma March was not just free speech, but also association, assembly and petition, and that these rights fortify one another. In other words, Judge Johnson recognized the kaleidoscopic nature of the First Amendment in its relationship to citizenship and democracy. That is an insight that should not have been lost, and which we would do well to recover today.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

May 24, 2019

Ingram on George Washington's Attorneys

Scott Ingram, High Point University, is publishing George Washington's Attorneys: The Political Selection of United States Attorneys at the Founding in volume 39 of Pace Law Review (2018). Here is the abstract.
Current political and prosecutorial norms reflect the belief that the administration of justice must be insulated from partisan politics. Each day, federal prosecutors make decisions regarding people’s lives and liberty. The federal prosecutors decide whom to charge, for what and when. They can charge anyone so long as they have probable cause to believe the person committed a federal crime. Probable cause is not a high standard. Consequently, a federal prosecutor with political ambitions is able use prosecutorial power to advance partisan political purposes. Similarly, ambitious Justice Department lawyers can use their policy-making authority to target political opponents or politically-unpopular organizations. To make this less likely, norms developed to insulate federal prosecutors from political forces. The norms have insulate specific cases and some believe they should also include policy decisions. This Article examines the relationship between the Nation’s first President and the selection of United States Attorneys. It argues that politics played an important, if not primary, role in the President’s selections. George Washington sought those who would represent the government’s interests, adhere to the government’s policies, and advance Washington’s political goals. His selections also demonstrated Washington’s requirement of loyalty to America. In this respect, the politicization of United States Attorneys occurred at the outset. Part I of this Article defines politicization and identifies its four aspects. Part II describes the United States Attorney position as understood through the 1789 Judiciary Act and state experience. Part III examines how Washington’s selections and selection process included three of the four politicization categories. The concluding Section briefly explores the ramifications of politicization and its potential benefits in today’s prosecutorial environment.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

May 23, 2019

Tushnet and Seidman on A Conversation About a Half Century in Legal Education @Harvard_Law @GeorgetownLaw

Mark Tushnet, Harvard Law School, and Louis Michael Seidman, Georgetown University Law Center, have published On Being Old Codgers: A Conversation about a Half Century in Legal Education. Here is the abstract.
This conversation, conducted over three evenings, captures some of our thoughts about the last half century of legal education as both of us near retirement. We have edited the conversations so as to eliminate verbal stumbles and present our ideas more coherently, slightly reorganized a small part of the conversation, and added a few explanatory footnotes. However, we have attempted to keep the informal tone of our discussions.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

May 22, 2019

Stockmeyer on Trailblazing Women Chief Justices @WMUcooleylaw

Norman Otto Stockmeyer, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, has published Trailblazing Women Chief Justices, at The Mentor, Spring 2019, at 4. Here is the abstract.
Nearly 60 women have achieved the position of Chief Justice of a state Supreme Court in the past 50+ years. Here are brief profiles of a few who were of particular significance as trailblazers.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

LaVigne and Miles on Brendan Dassey, Language Impairments, and Judicial Ignorance @WisconsinLaw

Michele LaVigne, University of Wisconsin Law School, and Sally Miles, Independent, are publishing Under the Hood: Brendan Dassey, Language Impairments, and Judicial Ignorance in volume 82 of the Albany Law Review (2019). Here is the abstract.
Making a Murderer, the Netflix documentary sensation, introduced the world to two unlikely protagonists, Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Both were convicted of a 2005 homicide and received life sentences. Avery was the main focus of the series, but it was Brendan, a developmentally-delayed sixteen-year-old, who won the heart and outrage of viewers. The primary piece of evidence against Brendan was a “confession” cruelly extracted by law enforcement. The voluntariness of that confession was litigated in state and federal courts for over a dozen years. Tragically, most of the courts, including the final Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals en banc majority, were completely oblivious to fact that Brendan’s had the kind of severe communication and language impairment which would have left him helpless against the out-of-control interviewing style used by law enforcement. This article examines what the courts overlooked. In order to fully assess the interviews and their impact, the co-authors had to do an under the hood analysis of Brendan’s language and communication skills as well as the communication of law enforcement. The co-authors, a clinical law professor and a speech language pathologist, suspected that Brendan suffered from a language impairment (disabling deficiencies in oral language competency), and we were right. The court file contained school records and assessments that placed Brendan’s language and communication skills in the lowest percentile of all sixteen-year-olds. This impairment had a profound impact on all aspects of Brendan’s functioning. The other part of the equation was more complicated, but equally revealing. With the assistance of a language transcription company we closely analyzed law enforcement communication, and how that communication would affect someone like Brendan. The results were alarming. Almost everything the two officers did in the course of interrogating Brendan violated the most minimal standards for interviewing any juvenile, but especially one with underdeveloped language and communication skills. By the time we finished our review, we were confident that the verbal behavior of law enforcement throughout the interrogations of Brendan, coupled with his poor ability to linguistically cope and his age, made him a prime candidate for unwillingly—and unwittingly—confessing to a crime he did not commit. This article describes our findings. It shows how law enforcement essentially abused Brendan with a chaotic mess of verbiage. And how, up against such a relentless verbal torrent, Brendan never stood a chance. The article also analyzes the myriad ways that the courts were simply wrong in their assumptions about Brendan, communication, and human behavior. On a larger scale, we believe that this article, and the process that created it, can provide a prototype for future cases. Brendan Dassey’s impairment is not unique, and within the criminal justice system, it is not even unusual. Nor, unfortunately, are egregious police interviewing “techniques.” The use of speech-language expertise and discourse analysis could be useful to prevent the kind of grotesque injustice done to Brendan Dassey.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Call For Papers, 4IR: Philosophical, Ethical, Legal Dimensions, September 3-5, 2019

Call for Papers
4IR: Philosophical, Ethical, Legal Dimensions

The conference aims to bring together scholars from a range of disciplines to discuss the philosophical, ethical, and legal questions raised by the onset of the so-called ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and its emerging technologies. In some cases, the questions are long standing and recent technologies are leading to a novel reconsideration of them. In other cases, seemingly new questions are arising – questions that range from the ethical and legal to the epistemological and foundational.
Deadline for Abstracts

3–5 September 2019
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
15 June 2019 (extended deadline)
30 June 2019
Helen Robertson (Wits), Turgay Celik (NEPTTP, Wits), Rod Alence (Wits), Casey Sparkes (NEPTTP), Anwar Vahed (DIRISA)

Submissions are invited on the philosophical, ethical, and legal dimensions of, among others,

Algorithmic Automation
Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Life
Big Data
Cyber Warfare
Data Mining
Deep Learning
Machine Learning
Open Data
Personal Data
Simulation and Virtual Reality
Social Media

Submission of abstracts is via Easychair at Short (180-200 word) and extended (800-1000 word) abstracts should be prepared for blind review and submitted by 15 June 2019.

Submissions from the following disciplines are especially encouraged.

Applied Ethics
Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy of Information
Philosophy of Computation
Data Protection Law
Interdisciplinary submissions from the following disciplines are equally encouraged.

Data Science
Cognitive Science
Computer Science

The keynote address will be given by Brent Mittelstadt, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.

Publication of selected papers in a conference special issue is planned for 2020. Further details will be announced.

Queries regarding abstract submission or the conference more generally can be directed to Helen Robertson at <>  or via the conference website at

The conference is funded by the National e-Science Postgraduate Teaching and Training Platform (NEPTTP) and the Data Intensive Research Initiative of South Africa (DIRISA).

May 21, 2019

Visual Images and Popular Culture in Legal Education: A New Issue of the JLE @TheAALS

The latest issue of the Journal of Legal Education (v. 68. no. 1), a symposium, is devoted to the topic of Visual Images and Popular Culture in Legal Education. A number of law professors offer essays on the ways in which pop culture informs the teaching of law. As Michael Asimow and Ticien Sassoubre, the editors of the Symposium, explain, the essays are organized into three sections. The first section's essays discuss the use of images in teaching law school classes. The essays in the second section discuss how to use images to help students interpret and create their own materials. The third set of essays discusses courses that focus on the law and pop culture course as a sub-discipline.

Perlin on Bob Dylan, War, and International Affairs @NYLawSchool

Michael L. Perlin, New York Law School, has published 'You That Build the Death Planes': Bob Dylan, War and International Affairs. Here is the abstract.
Several years ago, I wrote that Bob Dylan was “a scholar with a well-developed jurisprudence on a range of topics including civil, criminal, public, and private law” (Perlin, 2011, p.1396). In that article, I discussed and analyzed Dylan songs that dealt with, variously, civil rights, inequality in the criminal and civil justice systems, institutions, governmental/judicial corruption, equality and emancipation, and the role of lawyers in the legal process. (Id.). But I noted that I was omitting – for space considerations – any discussion of Dylan songs dealing with war and international affairs (Id., p. 1398, n. 15). In this paper, I will address some of those songs that confront these topics directly (from John Brown, Highway 61, Masters of War, With God on Our Side, and Let Me Die in My Footsteps, to Slow Train and Neighborhood Bully), as well as others that do so more metaphorically or symbolically (e.g., It’s Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding); A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall; Gates of Eden; Pay in Blood). I will conclude that, beyond the anthemic anti-war core of songs such as Masters, Dylan’s work reflects a keen understanding of geopolitics – why there is war, how profiteering is inevitably part of any pro-war movement, how alliances forged in war time are fragile in the aftermath, and how wars are, inevitably, “mistakes of a past history” (Footsteps) – all a reflection of the Political World in which we live. I also look at these issues through the lens of therapeutic jurisprudence, a model of looking at the law and the legal system to determine that system’s impact on the individuals whose lives are regulated.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Adeyemi on Modern Trends in Legal Thoughts: A Jurisprudential Outline

Babatunde Ajani Adeyemi, Babcock University, has published Modern Trends in Legal Thoughts: A Jurisprudential Outline. Here is the abstract.
The subject matter of this paper – Modern Trends in Legal Thoughts – connotes new thinking in Legal theory. Themes like; the current trends in analytical and normative jurisprudence, theories of justice, critical legal studies movement, feminist jurisprudence, critical race theory, and post-modernist jurisprudence, among others, constitute strands of the ‘new’ jurisprudential thoughts to be examined in this paper. ‘New’ in this context does not mean ‘novel’, because every product of law in the real sense, may be no more than the product of its time and place. This point is further illustrated by the comments of Freeman, M.D.A, that ‘contemporary thinking and contemporary questions have often rekindled interest in, and thrown new lights upon classical writers. It is the intention of this writer to approach the subject as a genealogical exercise, with the hope that at the end of the paper, a modest attempt to build a kind of bridge between theory and practice of law, would at least have been discernible.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Dudziak on Hitler's American Model and Transnational Legal History @marydudziak

Mary L. Dudziak, Emory University School of Law, has published The Outcome of Influence: Hitler’s American Model and Transnational Legal History at 117 Michigan Law Review 1179 (2019). Here is the abstract.
James Q. Whitman’s powerful book, Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Race Law, offers a chilling example of the way the United States can negatively influence the world. This review essay sets the book within the context of foreign relations history and transnational legal history. I first trace Whitman’s careful examination of Nazi uses of American law. His evidence of direct and substantial Nazi discussion of U.S. law when writing the Nuremburg Laws makes his core claim indisputable that American law was a model for the Nazis. Whitman shows that Nazi law sometimes did not go as far as American law due to foreign relations concerns. I argue that attention to Nazi foreign policy history would deepen this history, helping to explain how and when foreign criticism led Germany to modify its approach to race law. Hitler’s ultimate goal was the expansion of German power, not the maintenance of a positive German image, so any moderation in the Nuremberg Laws due to foreign criticism was likely tied to specific goals, like the importance of particular trade relations to Hitler’s goal to expand Germany. Finally, the essay sets Hitler’s American Model within the broader history of the international impact of domestic law. The foreign relations impact of U.S. race discrimination provides an illuminating comparison because foreign criticism played a different role than the German experience. Negative international reaction to American racism during the early Cold War years led American leaders to believe that civil rights reform was essential to protecting the U.S. global image, which mattered to maintaining American Cold War leadership. In comparison, Nazi concerns may have been tied to efforts to build up their arms industry as a means of enabling German power. Comparing the two examples can illuminate the varied relationships between domestic law and international affairs. The international role of domestic law is not limited to the borrowing of legal texts, and the transnational promotion of legal norms. Domestic law can also be an aspect of a nation’s diplomacy. The essay suggests questions for future scholars to pursue, and includes in the footnotes concrete ideas and resources for researching the transnational history of domestic law.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Call For Papers, Political Theology Theology Network Conference, NYC, October 17-19, 2019

Political Theology Network Conference

Columbia University & Union Theological Seminary

New York City

October 17-19, 2019

***Call for Papers Deadline Approaching: June 1
***Funding Available
***Keynote Speakers: Michelle Alexander, Gil Anidjar, Silvia Federici, Lap Yan Kung, Intisar Rabb, Najeeba Syeed
We invite proposals of 200-300 words for projects exploring political theology, broadly understood as an interdisciplinary conversation about intersections of religious and political ideas and practices. Under the sign of “political theology” political theorists have reflected on analogies between political and theological sovereignty, theologians have reflected on the role of memory and hope in political engagement, and cultural theorists have performed ideology critique. We are looking for projects that may draw on but also challenge and transform such classic conversations about political theology. We embrace the vibrant scholarly and activist work being done under the sign of political theology around the world, particularly in contexts of domination. African, Arab, Asian, and Latinx political theological traditions interrogate discourses around “sacred” and “profane” bodies. Indigenous activists organize to dismantle the anthropocentricism and “civilizing mission” of settler states. Scholars of secularism explore the relationship between caste, political culture, and everyday life in India. Black Muslim intellectuals theorize the power of popular protest and the religious nature of #BlackLivesMatter. Anti-colonial theologians from across the globe discuss abolition, anarchy, statelessness, and “higher laws.” Still others invite us to imagine “the end of the world.” We aim to bring together scholars, activists, and artists working with ethnographic, theoretical, theological, legal, historical, literary, and cultural studies methods motivated by a concern for justice. We are particularly interested in proposals that speak to the following themes:
  • economies
  • ecologies
  • legalities
  • embodiments
  • gender and sexualities
  • racializations
  • citizenship, migration, place and displacement
  • colonialisms (including settler colonialism and relations between settlers and Indigenous peoples)
  • critical disability studies
  • technologies and artificial intelligence
  • fictions and poetics
  • public scholarship and creative pedagogies
  • religious nationalisms and religious pluralities
Proposals that address these themes from diverse global and religious perspectives are especially welcome. We invite five different presentation formats:
  1. Paper presentation or pre-arranged papers panel (we anticipate allotting 90 minutes for each panel)
  2. Poster
  3. Dialogue or roundtable around a single theme (roundtables that include a combination of academics,
    activists, and representatives of the community are strongly encouraged)
  4. Activist workshop (e.g. teach-in, facilitated conversation, skills-building session, etc.)
  5. Performative piece (e.g. poem, spoken word, music, drama, dance, film, digital media, creative fiction readings, etc.) (Please submit either a general description of the piece or the performative work itself. Please
    also indicate any preferences for room and A/V setup.
This conference, hosted by Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University, is also funded by grants from the Henry Luce Foundation and Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion. It hosts a professional network connecting scholars of political theology across varying fields and traditions, and we are eager for proposals to advance conversations about what political theology could look like both in and outside the academy.
Submit proposals to Winfield Goodwin, PTN Conference Coordinator, at

Proposals Due June 1, 2019.

A limited amount of funding will be available to offset conference travel costs. Note: this funding is not available to tenured or tenure-track faculty (or equivalent). If you would like to be considered for funding, please indicate that with your submission.

Eugene Garver on Spinoza and the Cunning of Imagination (University of Chicago Press, 2018)

ICYMI: Eugene Garver, Spinoza and the Cunning of Imagination (University of Chicago Press, 2018). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
Spinoza’s Ethics, and its project of proving ethical truths through the geometric method, have attracted and challenged readers for more than three hundred years. In Spinoza and the Cunning of Imagination, Eugene Garver uses the imagination as a guiding thread to this work. Other readers have looked at the imagination to account for Spinoza’s understanding of politics and religion, but this is the first inquiry to see it as central to the Ethics as a whole—imagination as a quality to be cultivated, and not simply overcome. ​Spinoza initially presents imagination as an inadequate and confused way of thinking, always inferior to ideas that adequately represent things as they are. It would seem to follow that one ought to purge the mind of imaginative ideas and replace them with rational ideas as soon as possible, but as Garver shows, the Ethics don’t allow for this ultimate ethical act until one has cultivated a powerful imagination. This is, for Garver, “the cunning of imagination.” The simple plot of progress becomes, because of the imagination, a complex journey full of reversals and discoveries. For Garver, the “cunning” of the imagination resides in our ability to use imagination to rise above it.

 Spinoza and the Cunning of Imagination

May 20, 2019

Sherwin and Celermaier's Introduction to A Cultural History of Law in the Modern Age @RKSherwin

Richard K. Sherwin, New York Law School, and Danielle Celermaier, University of Sydney, are published Introduction to 'A Cultural History of Law in the Modern Age' in A Cultural History of Law in the Modern Age (Forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
A distinguishing feature of the twentieth century is the loss of any unitary foundation for truth, ethics, and the legitimate authority of law. With the emergence of radical pluralism, law became the site of extraordinary creativity; on occasion, a source of rights for those historically excluded from its protection. At the same time, it was a century convulsed by worldwide violence within and among states. Amidst pervasive fragmentation, however, the century also saw an unprecedented surge in mass communication (radio, film, television, and the Internet). It was as if for each new perspective on reality there arose an alternative medium for its transmission. 'A Cultural History of Law in the Modern Age' braids these centrifugal movements. Each chapter tells a story about how state power – or resistance to power – has been exercised within a particular expressive medium. From the instigation of genocidal state violence through the acoustics of radio, to the performance of Aboriginal land claims in traditional songs and ceremonial dance, to live street theater as a form of local resistance to corporate power, these case studies show how discrete modes of communication construct, memorialize, and disseminate political and legal meaning. They suggest that we will need to grow adept in multiple ways of knowing, wielding a diverse array of expressive and interpretive tools and modes of attunement, if we are to steady the course of judgment in the ongoing quest for truth and justice under the rule of law.
Download the Introduction from SSRN at the link.

Law and Humanities Roundtable 2019 To Be Held June 29 at the University of Warwick @ThomGiddens @routledgebooks

From the email box:

Law and Humanities Roundtable 2019
29 June, University of Warwick

The interdisciplinary arena of law and humanities is a rich and developing area of scholarship, with an international and diverse field of academics and thinkers at work within it. It is also an area that is characterised by an openness to innovation and new voices, and an expansive understanding of the value of humanities methodologies and sources as part of the ecology of legal discourse. The aim of this on-going annual roundtable is in part to provide a platform for, and thereby showcase, those working in law and humanities, but in particular to promote conversation and reflection between different approaches, methods, and voices within the range of law and humanities work. At its inception, the event is intended to be both expressive of contemporary law and humanities and reflexive in terms of law and humanities as a disciplinary phenomenon. Participants are encouraged not only to communicate and share the substance of their own work, but also to engage in contemplative discussion around the values, histories, methods, and possible futures of law and humanities within and beyond the global legal academy.

The roundtable is associated with the journal Law and Humanities, and is organised by members of its editorial board with financial support from Routledge.

For more information, please contact Thomas Giddens (

Confirmed Speakers

Angela Condello (University of Roma Tre)
Sophie Doherty (Durham University)
Jeanne Gaakeer (Erasmus School of Law)
David Gurnham (University of Southampton)
Golnar Nabizadeh (University of Dundee)
Sophie Rigney (University of Dundee)

Booking will be open soon; Eventbrite details to follow.

May 19, 2019

PEN America Extends Deadline To Apply For Writing for Justice Fellowships To June 3, 2019 @PENamerican

The deadline to apply for a Writing for Justice Fellowship is now June 3, 2019. PEN America sponsors these fellowships, which "aim... to harness the power of writers and writing in bearing witness to the societal consequences of mass incarceration by capturing and sharing the stories of incarcerated individuals, their families, communities, and the wider impact of the criminal justice system. Our goal is to ignite a broad, sustained conversation about the dangers of over-incarceration and the imperative to mobilize behind rational and humane policies. As an organization of writers dedicated to promoting free expression and informed discourse, PEN America is honored to have been entrusted by the Art for Justice Fund to engage the literary community in addressing this pressing societal issue."

 More about the Fellowships and the program here, at PEN America's website.

May 17, 2019

Novelist Herman Wouk Dies

Herman Wouk has died at the age of 103. The acclaimed author of The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War,  and many other works died at his Palm Beach home. Below is a short bibliography of works discussing law in some of his writing.

Harvey Couch, III, Law and Literature: A Comment, 17 Vanderbilt Law Review 911 (1963-1964). Discusses The Caine Mutiny.

Laurence W. Mazzeno, Herman Wouk (Twayne Publishing, 1994) (Twayne United States Authors Series).

Norman L. Rosenberg, The Caine Mutiny: Not Just One But Many Legal Dramas,  31 Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce 623 (Oct. 2000). Discusses The Caine Mutiny.

Gregory J. Sullivan, Children Into Men: Lawyers and the Law in Three Novels, 37 Catholic Lawyer 29 (1996-1997). Discusses The Caine Mutiny.

Rosenblatt on the British Patent Controversy and the Sherlockian Canon

Elizabeth Rosenblatt, University of California Davis, is publishing 'What One Man Can Invent Another Can Discover:' The British Patent Controversy and the Sherlock Holmes Canon in Canon Law: Lawyers, Law and the Sherlockian Canon (William A. Walsh and Donny Zaldin, eds., 2018). Here is the abstract.
Over the course of the 19th Century in Great Britain, patent law and policy developed quickly in an atmosphere of heated debate. In the first half of the century, some advocated for a patent system that provided greater ownership to inventors, while others advocated for abolition of patents altogether. The one thing people could agree on, it seemed, was that the then-existing system was flawed. In the latter half of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th, Parliament overhauled the patent system, including unifying the patent systems of England, Ireland, and Scotland, establishing the Patent Office, and passing the Patents Designs and Trademarks Act. In the midst of this atmosphere of debate and change, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 54 stories and 4 novels about the detective Sherlock Holmes, some of which address inventions. This chapter considers the treatment of patents and patent law in the Sherlock Holmes novels and stories to illuminate popular Victorian and Edwardian understandings of, and ambivalence about, the patent law of the time.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

May 16, 2019

ABA Announces 2019 Silver Gavel Award Winners @ABAesq @ABAJournal

The ABA has announced the Silver Gavel Award winners for 2019. 


Silver Gavel: The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, by Elaine Weiss.

Honorable Mention: The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind, by Justin Driver.


Silver Gavel: I Am Evidence, by Shelved LLC for HBO Documentary Films.

Honorable Mention: RBG, by Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media and CNN Films. 


Silver Gavel: “Sign Here to Lose Everything,” featured in Bloomberg. NEWSPAPERS Silver Gavel: “Protecting the Shield,” featured in Asbury Park Press.

Honorable Mention: “Denied Justice,” featured in Star Tribune (Minneapolis).

TELEVISION Silver Gavel: Dark Money, by American Documentary/POV and PBS Distribution, Big Sky Film Productions with Big Mouth Productions and Meerkat Media Collaborative. 

May 15, 2019

Quinn on Judge Jean Hortense Norris, New York City, 1912-1955 @maecquinn

Mae C. Quinn, University of Florida College of Law, has published Fallen Woman (Re)framed: Judge Jean Hortense Norris, New York City - 1912-1955 at 67 U. Kan. L. Rev. 451 (2019). Here is the abstract.
This Article seeks to surface and understand more than what is already known about Jean Hortense Norris as a lawyer, jurist, and feminist legal realist—as well as a woman for whom sex very much became part of her professional persona and work. This article analyzes the lack of legal protections provided to Norris and troubling nature of her removal from the bench given the evidence presented and standards applied. Finally, this Article seeks to provide further context for Jean Norris’s alleged misconduct charges to suggest that as a woman who dared to blur gender boundaries, embrace her professional power, and offer a unique vision of the “fairer sex,” she was held to a different standard than her male peers and made to pay the price with her career. In these ways, this Article provides a more complete picture of Jean Norris beyond a shamed and disrobed judge. And it begins to move Judge Norris out of legal history’s margins so that she may be remembered as more than mere mugshot in the American imagination.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

May 13, 2019

Call For Papers, ESIL International Conference, Athens, 2019 ESIL Interest Group History of International Law @esil_sedi

The Call for Papers for the ESIL Interest Group History of International Law event on 12 September 2019 "New Histories of Sovereigns and Sovereignties" has been extended to May 31, 2019. Here is the call.

May 11, 2019

Brooks on Dying Declarations @Princeton

Peter Brooks, Center for Human Values, Princeton University, is publishing Dying Declarations in Fictional Discourse and the Law (Hans J. Lind, ed., New York and London: Routledge, Forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
In Chavez v. Martinez, where a police officer interrogated a badly wounded—blinded and partially paralyzed—suspect undergoing treatment in the emergency room, Justice Kennedy evoked the ancient doctrine of “dying declarations,” which provides an exception to the exclusion of hearsay evidence in the case of words spoken where “the expectation of almost immediate death will remove all temptation to falsehood.” In a context once marked by the fear of eternal damnation, the brink of death was considered to produce the truth. One can find in the Ordinary of Newgate’s Accounts—containing confessions from those about to be hung at Tyburn—material that may both confirm and throw some doubt on the unconstrained truth of the dying declaration. But here I am especially concerned with deathbed scenes in the nineteenthcentury novel as moments of the transmission of truth—or sometimes a kind of cosmic lie. My examples are drawn from Balzac, Dickens, Collins, and Conrad.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

May 9, 2019

Call For Proposals: Conference on Prison Abolition, Human Rights, and Penal Reform: From the Local to the Global

From the email box:

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.

May 7, 2019

Craig on Judicial Audiences: A Case Study of Justice David Watt's Literary Judgments @SchulichLaw

Elaine Craig, Dalhousie University School of Law, is publishing Judicial Audiences: A Case Study of Justice David Watt's Literary Judgments in volume 64 of the McGill Law Journal (2019). Here is the abstract.
Applicants to the federal judiciary identify three main audiences for their decisions: the involved and affected parties, the public, and the legal profession. This case study examines a set of decisions authored by Justice David Watt of the Ontario Court of Appeal, involving the rape, torture, murder or attempted murder of women, in which he attempts humour or uses puns, parody, stark imagery and highly stylized and colloquial language to introduce the violence, or factual circumstances surrounding the violence, in these cases. It assess these introductions in relation to the audiences judges have identified as important for their decisions. The study concludes that these literary introductions may not speak productively to any of the three audiences identified as critical by applicants to the federal judiciary. For example, Justice Watt’s writing in these introductions does not reflect the empathy and sensitivity that some judges have identified as an important feature of writing that is intended for the parties (in their applications for appointment). The study also highlights two interrelated factors that judges should consider when writing decisions involving gender-based violence with a view to the public audience that these decisions are likely to receive. These factors are the crisis of public faith in the legal system’s ability to respond appropriately to incidents of gender-based harm, and the importance of writing judicial decisions that do not obscure the social context and dynamics that produce gender-based violence. Justice Watt’s unorthodox writing in these cases does not reflect consideration of these factors. Justice Watt’s short, staccato style introductions to decisions have received attention. His introductions, which differ from the conventional style of legal judgments, have been the subject of legal blogs, mainstream media articles, and professional praise and criticism. Decisions that include intentional stylistic departures from conventional judicial writing, including the ones written by Justice Watt, raise particular issues regarding the notion of judicial audience. Justice Watt’s departure from the conventional style of legal writing, particularly given the gruesome and tragic facts involved in many of the decisions he has written, raises numerous questions: Who is the audience for these literary judgments? What are some of the attendant risks of delivering literary judgments to particular audiences? Do Justice Watt’s literary judgments speak appropriately and productively to the three constituencies for court decisions identified by judges themselves: the parties (understood broadly), the public, and the legal profession?
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

May 4, 2019

Newly Published: Trial Films On Trial (University of Alabama Press) @ljstprof @JSilbey @UnivofALPress

Newly published: Trial Films on Trial: Law, Justice, and Popular Culture (Austin Sarat, Jessica Silbey, and Martha Merrill Umphrey, eds., University of Alabama Press, 2019). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
Historically, the emergence of the trial film genre coincided with the development of motion pictures. In fact, one of the very first feature-length films, Falsely Accused!, released in 1908, was a courtroom drama. Since then, this niche genre has produced such critically acclaimed films as Twelve Angry Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Anatomy of a Murder. The popularity and success of these films can be attributed to the fundamental similarities of filmic narratives and trial proceedings. Both seek to construct a “reality” through storytelling and representation and in so doing persuade the audience or jury to believe what they see. Trial Films on Trial: Law, Justice, and Popular Culture is the first book to focus exclusively on the special significance of trial films for both film and legal studies. The contributors to this volume offer a contemporary approach to the trial film genre. Despite the fact that the medium of film is one of the most pervasive means by which many citizens receive come to know the justice system, these trial films are rarely analyzed and critiqued. The chapters cover a variety of topics, such as how and why film audiences adopt the role of the jury, the narrative and visual conventions employed by directors, and the ways mid-to-late-twentieth-century trial films offered insights into the events of that period.


She-Hulk, Attorney At Law

ICYMI: From the July, 2014, issue of the ABA Journal, Barry Malone's interview with attorney Charles Soule, who writes the She-Hulk comic for Marvel. Mr. Soule writes She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters) as a sole practitioner) and presents real-life aspects of legal practice. More here. 

ICYMI: McGrath on Alexander Hamilton and the Transformation of the Common Law of Libel

May 3, 2019

A New Book on Law and Alcohol: Brian F. Haara's Bourbon Justice @bfhaara, @SippnCorn @PotomacBooks

Brian F. Haara has published Bourbon Justice: How Whiskey Law Shaped America (Potomac Books, dist. by the University of Nebraska Press, 2018). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
Bourbon whiskey has made a surprising contribution to American legal history. Tracking the history of bourbon and bourbon law illuminates the development of the United States as a nation, from conquering the wild frontier to rugged individualism to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit to solidifying itself as a nation of laws. Bourbon is responsible for the growth and maturation of many substantive areas of the law, such as trademark, breach of contract, fraud, governmental regulation and taxation, and consumer protection. In Bourbon Justice Brian Haara delves into the legal history behind one of America’s most treasured spirits to uncover a past fraught with lawsuits whose outcome, surprisingly perhaps, helped define a nation. Approaching the history of bourbon from a legal standpoint, Haara tells the history of America through the development of commercial laws that guided our nation from an often reckless laissez-faire mentality, through the growing pains of industrialization, and past the overcorrection of Prohibition. More than just true bourbon history, this is part of the American story.

May 2, 2019

Wurman on the Origins of Substantive Due Process @ilan_wurman

Ilan Wurman, Arizona State University College of Law, is publishing The Origins of Substantive Due Process in the University of Chicago Law Review. Here is the abstract.
In the antebellum nineteenth century, courts often voided legislative acts for substantive unreasonableness or for exceeding the scope of legitimate police powers. Contrary to the assertions of a number of modern scholars, however, this tradition does not support the concept of economic substantive due process. Courts voided municipal acts exceeding the scope of legitimate police powers on two grounds — the law of delegation and the law of municipal corporations — that did not apply to acts of state legislatures. The states themselves were limited to reasonable exercises of the police power only when their asserted authority came into potential collision with federal constitutional requirements, namely the commerce and contracts clauses. It was only late in the century, after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, that a police-power version of substantive due process emerged as a limitation on state legislatures as courts began conflating, under the guise of “due process of law,” earlier doctrines that had used a similar vocabulary but for distinct purposes. Police-power limitations on state legislatures regulating purely internal matters therefore probably cannot be justified by any antebellum legal conception of due process of law. It is possible, however, that such limitations could find support in the privileges or immunities clause by analogy to antebellum commerce clause and contracts clause jurisprudence.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

May 1, 2019

Levine on The Constitution as Poetry @TouroLawCenter

Samuel J. Levine, Touro College Law Center, has published The Constitution as Poetry 49 Seton Hall L. Rev. 737 (2019). Here is the abstract.
Building upon a body of scholarship that compares constitutional interpretation to biblical and literary interpretation, and relying on an insight from a prominent nineteenth century rabbinic scholar, this Article briefly explores similarities in the interpretation of the Torah — the text of the Five Books of Moses — and the United States Constitution. Specifically, this Article draws upon Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin’s (“Netziv”) intriguing suggestion that the interpretation of the text of the Torah parallels the interpretation of poetry. According to Netziv, this parallel accounts for the practice of interpreting the Torah expansively in ways that derive substantive legal rules and principles far beyond those found in the relatively narrow wording of the text. Moreover, Netziv explains that deriving these interpretations, which, at times, seem far removed from the literal reading of the text, requires a level of technical expertise similar to the skilled literary analysis necessary for thorough, thoughtful, and meaningful interpretation of poetry. Based on Netziv’s insight, this Article focuses on two methods of interpreting the Torah and the Constitution that may otherwise appear to present an anomalous approach to understanding a legal text, but which are standard and important methods of literary analysis when applied to poetry: first, the expansive interpretation of a provision, a brief phrase or, at times, a single word, to establish a wide-ranging set of principles and ideas; and second, somewhat conversely, the interpretation of a provision, seemingly stated in categorical terms, but understood to incorporate qualifications, limitations, and exceptions. In either case, both the Jewish legal system and the American legal system accept the authority, if not the competency, of judicial experts to understand, interpret, and apply the text in ways that may not be apparent, and that may be difficult to accept outside the technical practices of biblical and constitutional exegeses. Finally, and perhaps as a further justification for these methods of interpretation, this Article concludes with the observation that, beyond their literary forms, the Torah and the Constitution share poetry’s design to function as a timeless text, susceptible to meaningful application and containing important lessons for the foreseeable — and unforeseeable — future.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Kortvelyesi on Game of Norms: Law, Interpretation, and the Realms in Game of Thrones

Zsolt Kortvelyesi, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies, Centre for Social Sciences, has published Game of Norms: Law, Interpretation, and the Realms in Game of Thrones as MTA Law Working Paper No. 2019/3. Here is the abstract.
In this paper I will use Game of Thrones (the TV series) and its oath of the Night’s Watch to discuss some basic questions related to the nature and functioning of law. This will serve a dual goal: assessing the concept of law used in the series (making the paper part of a long-thriving academic field, law and literature, or law and film), but, more importantly, also to present theoretical questions in a friendly way – something I also tested in introduction to law classes. It is not easy to draw students into discussing questions of the right interpretation or functionalist understandings, but by driving them to a friendly (if deadly) territory, one can engage with them and show how the discussion is intimately related to fundamental dilemmas of legal theory.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Bassok on The Mysterious Meeting Between Carl Schmitt and Josef Redlich

Or Bassok, University of Nottingham, Faculty of Law and Social Sciences, has published The Mysterious Meeting between Carl Schmitt and Josef Redlich. Here is the abstract.
In 1934, Carl Schmitt, then the crown jurist of the Third Reich, writes in an essay titled National Socialist Legal Thought about “[a] conversation with a world-famous, world travelled, experienced scholar of more than seventy years of age from the United States [which] belongs to the major experiences and encounters I have had as a jurist in the service of National Socialism.” Schmitt never revealed the identity of the scholar whom he met. Based on Schmitt’s diaries, I reveal that the scholar whom Schmitt met was Josef Redlich. Born to a Jewish family in 1869, Redlich was the Fairchild Professor of Comparative Public Law at Harvard Law School at the time he met Schmitt in 1931. According to Schmitt’s 1934 essay, the conversation focused on insights relating to the indeterminacy of legal norms as well as on a nihilist understanding of the era. Yet Schmitt drew conclusions from the encounter which hardly correspond to Redlich’s views. My essay first puts the ideas that Schmitt adopted from his encounter with the “American scholar” in the context of the era. Second, I examine Schmitt’s diaries as well as other relevant materials in order to prove that Redlich is the scholar whom Schmitt met. In the process, I exclude Roscoe Pound, the Dean of Harvard Law School at that time, who was the previous “prime suspect” for this encounter with Schmitt. Even after my discovery of the identity of the scholar to whom Schmitt refers in his essay, the story of Schmitt and Redlich’s encounter remains mysterious: the ideas of a scholar of Jewish decent, who believed in an Austrian multi-national, federal state, inspired and played a profound role in the formulation of a blatantly antisemitic essay promoting National Socialist legal thought by the crown jurist of the Nazi regime. After examining the contradictions between Redlich and Schmitt’s positions, I offer an explanation for why Schmitt viewed this encounter as so influential on his road to National Socialism.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Flores on Law as an Artefact @imerbflores

Imer B. Flores, Instituto de Investigaciones Juridicas, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), has published Law as an Artefact. Here is the abstract.
In this paper, I aim to explore the claim that law is an artefact and the implications to our understanding of law and legal entities. For that purpose, I intend to review the general theory of artefacts and to revisit the artefactual nature of law to determine what sort of sub-kind law is. I argue that the relevant authorial intention is not the productive but the reproductive one, i.e. the collective recognition. Finally, I conclude that law and other legal entities are indeed artefacts broadly speaking, but they are much more than mere artefacts, i.e. complex institutions and institutional practices, comprising different sub-institutions, which require not only recognition, but also (re)evaluation and (re)interpretation, as I suggest by pointing to the forms of government, in general, and to democracy, in particular.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

New from Cambridge University Press: Jonathan Bond, Natural Law and the Nature of Law (2019) @drjoncrowe @CambridgeCore

Now available from Cambridge University Press: Jonathan Crowe, Bond University, has published Natural Law and the Nature of Law (2019). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
This book provides the first systematic, book-length defence of natural law ideas in ethics, politics and jurisprudence since John Finnis's influential Natural Law and Natural Rights. Incorporating insights from recent work in ethical, legal and social theory, it presents a robust and original account of the natural law tradition, challenging common perceptions of natural law as a set of timeless standards imposed on humans from above. Natural law, Jonathan Crowe argues, is objective and normative, but nonetheless historically extended, socially embodied and dependent on contingent facts about human nature. It reflects the ongoing human quest to work out how best to live flourishing lives, given the natures we have and the social environments we inhabit. The nature and purpose of law can only be adequately understood within this wider context of value. Timely, wide-ranging and clearly written, this volume will appeal to those working in law, philosophy and religious studies.

 Natural Law and the Nature of Law

Stappert on the Use of Academic Writings at International Criminal Courts and Tribunals

Nora Stappert, University of Copenhagen, iCourts, Centre of Excellence for International Courts, has published A New Influence of Legal Scholars? The Use of Academic Writings at International Criminal Courts and Tribunals at 31 Leiden Journal of International Law 963 (2018). Here is the abstract.
Which role have international legal scholars played in the development of international criminal law? Building on recent studies of the citation practices of international courts, the article provides an empirical assessment of the use and functions of citations to scholarly writings in the judgements of international criminal courts and tribunals. Using a mixed methods approach, the article combines a) a quantitative analysis of judgements interpreting the law of war crimes across five international and internationalized courts with b) qualitative interviews with judges and legal officers at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the ad hoc Tribunals, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). The article argues that scholarly writings have been strikingly visible in the judgements of international criminal courts and tribunals, and especially at the ICC, which entails significant implications for the functions of academic writings and the role of international legal scholars.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.