Well, what can I say, the school board in Randolph County, North Carolina, has voted to remove the Invisible Man from their public school library. School board member Gary Mason said, “I didn’t find any literary value.” Pretty much everyone who's studied the novel disagrees -- and I'd add that not only does it have literary value, it has value as a work of jurisprudence (and here). I would have thought that if anything the book was too tame for the current generation.
The complaint by Kimiyutta Parson, a parent, is here. So much to say here. Ms. Parson focuses a lot on Trueblood in her complaint -- but you might find it significant that Random House's teacher's guide to the novel focuses on his crime, too -- and asks how that's related to white people's reaction to him. The main object of the novel, the critique of humanity and opposition to definition along racial lines, is completely absent from the complaint. And might I ask, am I correct in my guess that Ms. Parson is African American? If so, I suspect that Ellison would have enjoyed that part of the story -- that his novel is being evaluated on lines entirely separate from race. Maybe I'll have a chance to ask the librarians at the Ralph Ellison library in Oklahoma City at the end of next week what they think of this. At any rate, I agree with this part of Ms. Parson's appeal of the dismissal of her complaint: "We take our children's future and education very seriously." (Though I think the best line in the appeal is this "I and other companies are also looking int other ways of having great attention come to this matter publicly.")
Thanks to John Kaiser for bringing this to my attention.
Well, I'm pretty much out of trivia questions, so I'm relying on my friends and colleagues. Bill Turnier sends along this picture of a monument. I've actually been to this one -- rather enjoyed it, but it's been years. This one ought to be pretty easy for some of our readers.
TheConference of Quaker Historians and Archivists will hold its twentieth biennial conference at Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania, June 16 – 18, 2014. The conference invites proposals for papers on any aspect of Quaker history. Send a one-page abstract including proposed paper title, a one-page vita, and a separate cover letter detailing anticipated funding sources, if accepted, to: John Anderies (firstname.lastname@example.org). The deadline for proposals is December 6, 2013.
Oh, so many possibilities, such as Francis Daniel Pastorius and Quaker legal thought or George Fox' legal thought for that matter. I probably don't have the courage to attempt a paper on Pastorius' views on legal history -- which one might try to reconstruct out of the books on legal history in his library -- but that would be a ton of fun to try. (The reason I lack the courage is, I guess, two-fold. First, there are some real language barriers at this point for me looking at 17th century European writing on legal history; and second I'm skeptical of how much I can extrapolate from Pastorius' books to what's in his mind.) Then again, there's some stuff to be said about Caleb Pusey and the Keithian Controversy. Or maybe I should look more closely at Quakers in my new home state of North Carolina -- like the trust that William Gaston wrote for them to hold enslaved people in quasi-freedom. About that I'll have a lot to say in Oklahoma City next week.
The image is of the Concord Quaker Meeting in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
One of the academy’s leading legal historians, William E. Nelson is the Edward Weinfeld Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. For more than four decades, Nelson has produced some of the most original and creative work on American constitutional and legal history. His prize-winning books have blazed new trails for historians with their substantive arguments and the scope and depth of Nelson’s exploration of primary sources. Nelson was the first legal scholar to use early American county court records as sources of legal and social history, and his work (on legal history in England, colonial America, and New York) has been a model for generations of legal historians.
This book collects ten essays exemplifying and explaining the process of identifying and interpreting archival sources—the foundation of an array of methods of writing American legal history. The essays presented here span the full range of American history from the colonial era to the 1980s.Each historian has either identified a body of sources not previously explored or devised a new method of interrogating sources already known.The result is a kaleidoscopic examination of the historian’s task and of the research methods and interpretative strategies that characterize the rich, complex field of American constitutional and legal history.
The contributors are Sarah Barringer Gordon, Thomas C. Mackey, Daniel W. Hamilton, Cornelia H. Dayton, Sharon V. Salinger, Barry Cushman, Tomiko Brown Nagin, John Wertheimer, Susanna L. Blumenthal, John Fabian Witt, and Reuel Schiller. Read the introduction here and view the table of contents here. Congratulations to Bill and the editors for such a terrific volume! Final thought on this -- I was pleasantly surprised to see my current student Heidi Rickes (and John Wertheimer's former student) cited in John's chapter. Heidi's working on a study of jurisprudence at Davidson College before the Civil War. Ought to be really interesting what she turns up.
[Michelle Egan's Toward a New History in European Law: New Wine in Old Bottles?] highlights a particularly important set of issues that historians must address if their findings are to find a foothold in the work of other disciplines. Foremost among these is the need for the new historical studies to “embrace bigger causal questions of theoretical and historical interest such as the relationship of law to contemporary democracy, the rights and conceptions of citizenship, the relationship of law to market capitalism, and the issues of internationalism, sovereignty, and legal pluralism.” Hunkering down into the silos of specialized, case- or period-specific studies, as has been the case in much of the New History scholarship to date, precludes the possibility of writing a history of European law as part of a broader “administrative, regulatory, and judicial realm” with a greater relevance for the large number of scholars who understand law in this way. ...
If making the New History relevant and useful to our political science and legal scholar colleagues comes potentially at the cost of undermining the hoped-for objectivity and inherent curiosity in the narrative, is this a price worth paying? How can we write a history of EU law that retains the features of “pure” history, yet at the same time produce narratives that are applicable and able to respond to the questions of fundamental importance raised by scholars like Egan, Pollack, and Bignami? Perhaps there is then a strong need for the New Historians to self-reflect a little more and engage with the theoretical assumptions in their own field—legal history—than necessarily being driven by concerns from outside the discipline?
done before, I thought I’d offer up some recent highlights from my Twitter feed that may be of
interest to TFL readers but escaped notice. Alors, in no particular order:
— First up is an
interesting draft by USC economists Isabelle Brocas and Juan D. Carrillo, The neurobiology
of opinions: can judges and juries be impartial? The authors draw on
neuroscience to model belief formation and decision-making by judges and
juries, concluding that “early cases in a judge's career may affect his
decisions later on, and that early evidence produced in a trial may matter more
than late evidence,” and that “the distribution of preferences in a jury
affects the way information is interpreted by individual jurors.”
— Anyone who has
been paying attention knows that adjuncts get a raw deal. But this
adjunctreally got a raw deal. (To
be fair, her former institution may have been distracted by more
— In (much)
lighter news (which you will need after you read about the adjunct), I give you The
Hotness-IQ Tradeoff in Academia. The philosophers, apparently, are to be congratulated. Alas,
legal academia is not represented, although perhaps that’s for the best; I fear
that the law types may have ended up below the line with their med school
counterparts (a placement that suggests that such faculty are even dumber
than their physical appearance would have predicted).
— I’ve always
thought that the 1L curriculum could do with some informal logic. And with An Illustrated Book of Bad
Arguments, it really couldn’t be easier. Come to think of it, I’ve found
myself on the business end of the Guilt By Association fallacy (illustrated right) more than once while workshopping a paper. So maybe we could
all use a refresher course.
— UNC and Harvard
have apparently both seen the light and (consistent with a pending proposal by
federal regulators) largely taken away from IRBs responsibility for assessing
information privacy risks and given
that responsibility to actual IT experts. What’s that adage about a
thousand lawyers chained together at the bottom of the ocean?
— Maybe this is
only an issue for those of us who work in or near the sciences, but you know
those emails you get inviting you, on behalf of your Extraordinary Contribution
to a field (often, one in which you have contributed precisely nothing) to be the Most
Honored Speaker at some random conference? You guys know that those conferences are fake, right? Well, this
guy didn’t get the memo, and boy is he (rightly) pissed.
From an email message that I received earlier today:
The UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT MERCY SCHOOL OF LAW invites
nominations and applications for the position of Dean of the School of
Law. A full description of the position and the application form
can be found at the School of Law’s website here. http://lawschool.udmercy.edu/index.php/2011-12-20-19-26-57
For fans of the "Missed Connections" genre on Craig's List, this gem:
The blonde you shouted at - w4m - 27 (American Blvd/34th Ave)
The scene: 4:30 pm Friday, intersection at American Blvd and 34th Avenue.
You: Middle-aged, dark hair, tan skin, driving a green SUV * * *
Me: 20s, blonde hair, black fitted dress, gladiator sandals and waiting at the intersection to catch the lightrail. * * *
So, that's where we were. Me, minding my own business. You, apparently observing my ass. At that point you had options. You could have driven past me and said nothing. You could have turned up your radio and waved, ensconcing us in some beats and camaraderie. You could have shouted out, "Happy Friday! Yeehaw!" Any of those options would have been great. I probably would have waved, smiled, and started my weekend on the same high note as you.
Instead, you chose the most pathetic option available to you: You leaned out of your window and made some ridiculous series of leering comments about whether I was wearing a thong, right as the light changed and you peeled off, pleased with yourself and saved from any consequences. * * *
Let me make this abundantly clear, to you and to the other men reading this: when you comment on a woman's appearance, you are not doing it for her. You are doing it for you. It's not some great way to make a woman feel sexy and appreciated. It's not flattery, even if you mean for it to be. The only thing it is is a great way for you to create a shitty power dynamic, by which you have announced yourself as the arbiter of her value, and you've deemed her fuckable, and she is supposed to be happy or impressed by that.
If you really find a woman beautiful, don't choose the juvenile selfish route that makes her feel weird and you look like an asshole. Just take a deep breath, commit the image to memory, and get on with your life. Or, if it's really that great of an ass that you can't possibly survive without commenting on it, post about it on CL missed connections after the fact and let her decide what to do about it.
Charles Nelson will step down as the dean of Faulkner University law school at the end of this school year. He will have served ten years in the position, having taking over as dean in 2004. He will return to the faculty.
THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY COLLEGE OF LAW is inviting applications
for a lateral or entry-level tenure-track faculty position beginning in the
fall of 2014. The College of Law will be hiring in the following
areas: Tax, Corporate and Business Law, Evidence and/or Professional
Responsibility. The College of Law is an important part of a major
research university and offers a collegial and supportive atmosphere for its
faculty, staff, and students. Applicants should have a J.D. or
Ph.D. or equivalent degree and a record of high academic achievement and should
demonstrate promise for excellence in teaching and in scholarly
productivity. The College of Law is committed to enhancing the diversity
of its faculty and particularly seeks applications from women, members of
minority groups, and others whose background may add to that diversity.
Applicants should send a letter of application and résumé to Melynda Price,
Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, by mail at the University of Kentucky
College of Law, Lexington, KY 40506-0048, or by email to the administrative
assistant for the committee at email@example.com.
The University of Kentucky is an Equal Opportunity University.
UA President Judy Bonner released a video statement today stating that the University won't tell sororities who to pledge, but won't tolerate discrimination, will support students who want to end Greek segregation, and will help remove any barriers existing sorority and fraternity members perceive prevent their efforts to integrate. Also, she discussed hosting Bill Cosby at the President's House this weekend and she shared a number of snapshots which are interweaved into her talk on Vimeo.
On Oct. 11, the Wayne Law Review (with generous support from the Cohn Family Foundation) will host a symposium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Michigan constitution and the nine other state constitutions ratified since 1963. One interesting trivium about the set of states included in this category is that they seem to have no common link to each other other than the youth of their current constitutions. Rhode Island, last to ratify the federal Constitution, is also the last to revise its state constitution (and was actually last to adopt its original state constitution, too, having relied on its colonial charter from Charles II into the mid-19th century). Connecticut (another state that used its much-loved royal colonial charter, in place of a state constitution, even beyond the War of 1812), Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia--each an original colony--also have young constitutions. It's easy to see why Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, and Louisiana needed new constitutions after 1865, but why each needed a new constitution after 1965 is less obvious. The list is rounded out with Michigan, Illinois, and Montana. So we have New England states, southern states, a western state, and a pair of mid-western states; some former Confederate states and some Union states; some relatively new states and some original colonies; states that required Congressional approval of their original state constitutions and states that didn't; and some large states and some small states, both geographically and demographically. Notably, the newest states, Alaska and Hawai'i, don't have the newest constitutions; they both still rely on the documents that got them admitted to the Union in the first place. Yet all of the modern constitutions are arguably more similar to each other and dissimilar to the oldest constitutions. One potential lesson an observer might infer from this: state constitutions seem to bear less relationship to any imagined state "character" than they do to the national culture at the moment in time when they were drafted. Come learn more at our symposium!
In honor of Constitution Day I am going to talk about cemeteries and public constitutional thought. I bet that's a real surprise, isn't it? My paper on cemetery dedication addresses before the Civil War aims to detail how the orators thought that cemeteries furthered the Constitution's mission. I wanted to use that dataset of addresses to paint a detailed picture of public ideas about the Constitution. But beyond that mission of reconstructing the Whig world about cemeteries and constitutionalism, I also hoped it would speak to broader issues in constitutional history and theory. I want it to contribute to the literature of what historians call constitutional culture and the closely parallel literature of what lawyers call popular constitutionalism.
Those two lines of work have a lot to say to each other. Historians have developed an extensive literature on constitutional culture, which deals with a myriad of issues from ways that the Constitution provided a font for private civic organizations (and vice versa) to how outsiders advanced their own, often radical, visions of the Constitution ... and how sometimes those visions affected formal Constitutional law, even how members of Congress advanced their own visions of the Constitution. (By formal constitutional law I mean the law as announced by the Supreme Court).
When lawyers write about popular constitutionalism (what I and others are increasingly referring to as public constitutionalism, to emphasize the ways that this is a discouse in public, but not really the ideas of little people), they often emphasize ways that the Constitution imposes a constraint on action -- like what Congress can do. Larry Kramer's The People Themselves aimed to re-establish the legitimacy of public constitutionalism as a constraint on the federal government's actions. The reaction to Kramer generated a lot of questions about the importance of public ideas about the Constitution. Larry Solum and Larry Alexadner said in an important critique of Larry Kramer's The People Themselves, there are a lot of unknowns in the popular constitutionalism literature. Those include, how do the public ideas relate -- if at all -- to what courts do? Why do those ideas matter to legal academics or to judges? I certainly recognize that beliefs about law held by people outside the courts are hard to characterize as law -- they're probably more appropriately called something like "culture. Mark Tushnet has joined the historical and legal lines of literature on non-judicial views of the Constitution in his response to a lot of the early critiques of Kramer.
Sometimes the legal/constitutional ideas of non-judges are very important, for as Kramer points out, they can frame the actions of a legislature. Now I'm sketpical that views of law by themselves have much power -- I think they very frequently operate in conjunction with (and often in dependent ways on) bigger issues of economics and ideology. But studying the public statements about the law and constitutionalism can give us a sense of how the actors themselves see issues. The constitutional culture literature and the public constitutionalism literature tells us a great deal about how people understand the Constitution and how they mobilize economic and ideological issues. Constitutional culture is a gauge of thought -- and maybe sometimes an influencer of it.
The cemetery addresses reflect the Whig belief that the Constitution was much more than a piece of paper and its interpretation by courts -- they reflect the Whig belief that to be effective the Constitution needed a set of values in the hearts and minds of Americans. And thus not only do the addresses tell us what Whig values about constitutionalism were, they reflect the understanding that the addresses and the cemeteries were part of the Whig constitutional world. That world opposed political parties and emphasized a well-ordered republic that did not tolerate mobs or riots, that emphasized commerce and property rights. The addresses illustrate the sophisticated ideas and aspirations of constitutional law and how those ideas might be supported by the creation of cemeteries.
The image is the Sphinx at Mount Auburn Cemetery. It was a memorial to the Civil War designed by Jacob Bigelow, who I take it is related in some way to Boston University law professor Melville Bigelow?
Dean Athornia Steele is stepping down as dean of the Nova Southeastern law school. He joined Nova in August 2008 after having served as the dean at Capital University Law School. (Oddly, his bio does not seem to have been updated at all since he was at Capital.)
Many of us with ties to the University of Alabama have been watching the unfolding of Tuscaloosa's outrageous school board election story. To put it briefly, incumbent Kelly Horwitz - who happens to be the wife of Bama lawprof Paul Horwitz - was narrowly defeated by Carson Kirby, a darling of local real estate interests, in an August 27 election. And this would truly be mundane Alabama news (moneyed interests defeat the eggheads) but for the fact that Kirby pulled off the win with the support of a shadow University of Alabama Greek organization known as The Machine. (Get a little background on the Machine from this New Republic article from 2002. Or perhaps this Esquire article from 1992. Or even this 1961 piece from the UA newspaper, the Crimson White.) How did the Greeks do it? With party buses, free booze, and perhaps a fraudulent registration or two. Or three.
As media scholars know, editors typically publish news that fits into an existing media frame. News is more recognizable to editors and more compelling to readers when it fits into an existing storyline. And while Greek shenanigans is an existing media frame, it's not really the dominant Alabama media frame. That, as we all know, is race.
Thus, nobody was surprised when the newest example Alabama's unrelenting Greek racial segregation - the universal sorority rejection of an overachieving African-American woman (the step-granddaughter of a former Alabama Supreme Court justice and university trustee, facts that really matter when you're talking about a white prospective) - made it into the NY Times. The news of Greek racism first surfaced on September 11 (all kudos to the Crimson White, which broke the race story). This Greek story made it to the Times on September 12, the following day. It did perfectly fit the Alabama media frame. And two days after that story, weeks after the bad election, the election story surfaced in the Times.
What interests me is that it took the activation of a University of Alabama fraternity misconduct frame, which only appeared (I believe) because of the race angle, before the paper chose to follow through the opening the race story created and published the not-quite-so-fresh school board story two days later. Thus, the media frame effectively inverted the chronology of these two stories. On the Times Facebook line, presumably, Alabama Greeks performed their racism first then proceeded to steal an election.
While that is the opposite of what actually happened on earth, perhaps the timing is irrelevant. This Greek Tragedy is one of hubris and exceptionalism - the endless ability of Alabama Greeks to maintain segregation and treat public affairs as a playtoy. And, sadly, the tale of two hapless administrators - Chancellor Robert Witt and President Judy Bonner - who, unlike those of us sitting in the audience, perhaps do not see their complicity in the unfolding drama.
When I was on the entry-level market some years back, a number of hiring committees used the large cohort of tenure-track faculty at their schools as a selling point, stressing the importance of a shared tenure-track experience as a benefit of choosing them. When I started on the tenure-track, there were five tenure-track faculty at my school which increased to eight at one point before we all started becoming tenured. I was thinking that in the current times of less hiring, schools might be facing much smaller tenure-track cohorts which could feel lonlier and less supportive for new hires. I'm wondering if this will be the case and, if so, if that will put more pressure on external tenure-track networking to fill the void e.g. the SEALS new professors programs and the AALS new professors groups. Do people entering the academy have any thoughts on this? Or any tenured profs who felt that there were particular benefits (or perhaps detriments) to having a large tenure track cohort at their schools during the tenure process?
Professor Colleen Chien of Santa Clara Law School has been appointed to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). She will be advising Todd Park, the Unites States Chief Technology Officer. Patent policy wonks will be reading the tea leaves on this appointment; her recent report critical of the impact of patent trolls can be found here. Chien is taking a one year leave.