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legal history



  • Originalism’s Original Sin

    by Adam Shapiro

    Liberal critics should understand the ways that Constitutional originalism's practices of reading and resolving conflicts in the text owes a great deal to biblical literalism. Historians of religion can help understand what's at stake. 


  • Palin v. New York Times is a Textualist Land Mine for the First Amendment

    by Richard E. Labunski

    In June, trial will begin in Sarah Palin's libel case against the New York Times. The case appears to be teed up on a path to the Supreme Court, where the current "actual malice" standard for proving a public figure was libeled could be overturned. If this happens, the door will be open to lawsuits aimed at crushing press criticism of the government.



  • Unequal Before the Law

    Sara Mayeux's history of public defenders shows how the liberal reform movement that established a system to provide counsel to the poor buttressed the systemic slant of the justice system against them. 



  • Amy Coney Barrett on Guns

    by Jake Charles

    A Second Amendment scholar examines the SCOTUS nominee's historical interpretation of prohibitions on individual firearm ownership, concluding that her record shows a commitment to gun rights but uncertainty about how she might rule on particular cases.



  • ‘On the Books’: Machine Learning Jim Crow

    by William Sturkey

    Lawyer and activist Pauli Murray undertook the arduous task of identifying racially discriminatory laws across the United States, and published a volume cataloguing them in 1950 as a took for attorneys working to dismantle Jim Crow. A University of North Carolina project uses technology to complete that task and demonstrate the historical pervasiveness of racism in the law.



  • What's Next for Abortion Law?

    by Mary Ziegler

    Thinking historically about the abortion debate shows a shift in the ground of conflict from questions of rights to questions of restriction. The debate has always been about how the costs and benefits of childbearing are shared in society.



  • The Neighborhoods We Will Not Share

    by Richard Rothstein

    Persistent housing segregation lies at the root of many of our society’s problems. Trump wants to make it worse.



  • The Turley Dilemma

    by Andrew Meyer

    If we look at Jonathan Turley's argument against impeachment, we can see the outlines of a dilemma that faces the president, the Republican Party, and by extension the entire country.