Law of the United States

The first two editions of the best-selling Law 101 provided readers with a vividly written and indispensable portrait of our nation's legal system. Now, in this third edition, Jay M. Feinman offers a fully updated survey of American law that incorporates fresh material on 2009 Supreme Court cases, the legal response to the war on terror (including the Guantanamo detainees and electronic surveillance), and to the latest developments in Internet law. In a book brimming with legal puzzles, interesting anecdotes, and thought-provoking questions, Jay M. Feinman's clear introduction to the law provides us with a solid understanding of the American legal tradition and covers the main subjects taught in the first year of law school. Readers are introduced to every aspect of the legal system, from constitutional law and the litigation process to tort law, contract law, property law, and criminal law. Feinman illuminates each discussion with many intriguing, outrageous, and infamous cases, from the scalding coffee case that cost McDonald's half a million dollars, to the sensational murder trial in Victorian London that led to the legal definition of insanity, to the epochal decision in Marbury v. Madison that gave the Supreme Court the power to declare state and federal law unconstitutional. He broadens the reader's legal vocabulary, clarifying the meaning of everything from "due process" and "equal protection" in constitutional law to the distinction between "murder" and "manslaughter" in criminal law. Perhaps most important, we learn that though the law is voluminous and complex, it is accessible to all. Everyone who wants a better grasp of current legal issues--from students contemplating law school, to journalists covering the legislature or the courts, to fans of Court TV--will find here a wonderful source of information: a complete, clear, and colorful map of the American legal system.
When the first volume of Morton Horwitz's monumental history of American law appeared in 1977, it was universally acclaimed as one of the most significant works ever published in American legal history. The New Republic called it an "extremely valuable book." Library Journal praised it as "brilliant" and "convincing." And Eric Foner, in The New York Review of Books, wrote that "the issues it raises are indispensable for understanding nineteenth-century America." It won the coveted Bancroft Prize in American History and has since become the standard source on American law for the period between 1780 and 1860. Now, Horwitz presents The Transformation of American Law, 1870 to 1960, the long-awaited sequel that brings his sweeping history to completion. In his pathbreaking first volume, Horwitz showed how economic conflicts helped transform law in antebellum America. Here, Horwitz picks up where he left off, tracing the struggle in American law between the entrenched legal orthodoxy and the Progressive movement, which arose in response to ever-increasing social and economic inequality. Horwitz introduces us to the people and events that fueled this contest between the Old Order and the New. We sit in on Lochner v. New York in 1905--where the new thinkers sought to undermine orthodox claims for the autonomy of law--and watch as Progressive thought first crystallized. We meet Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and recognize the influence of his incisive ideas on the transformation of law in America. We witness the culmination of the Progressive challenge to orthodoxy with the emergence of Legal Realism in the 1920s and '30s, a movement closely allied with other intellectual trends of the day. And as postwar events unfold--the rise of totalitarianism abroad, the McCarthyism rampant in our own country, the astonishingly hostile academic reaction to Brown v. Board of Education--we come to understand that, rather than self-destructing as some historians have asserted, the Progressive movement was alive and well and forming the roots of the legal debates that still confront us today. The Progressive legacy that this volume brings to life is an enduring one, one which continues to speak to us eloquently across nearly a century of American life. In telling its story, Horwitz strikes a balance between a traditional interpretation of history on the one hand, and an approach informed by the latest historical theory on the other. Indeed, Horwitz's rich view of American history--as seen from a variety of perspectives--is undertaken in the same spirit as the Progressive attacks on an orthodoxy that believed law an objective, neutral entity. The Transformation of American Law is a book certain to revise past thinking on the origins and evolution of law in our country. For anyone hoping to understand the structure of American law--or of America itself--this volume is indispensable.
Two Victorian Era intellectual movements changed the course of American legal thought: Darwinian natural selection and marginalist economics. The two movements rested on fundamentally inconsistent premises. Darwinism emphasized instinct, random selection, and determinism; marginalism emphasized rational choice. American legal theory managed to accommodate both, although to different degrees in different disciplines. The two movements also developed mutually exclusive scientific methodologies. Darwinism emphasizing external indicators of welfare such as productivity, education or health, while marginalists emphasized market choice. Historians have generally exaggerated the role of Darwinism in American legal thought, while understating the role of marginalist economics. This book explores these issues in several legal disciplines and time periods, including Progressive Era redistributive policies, American common law, public law, and laws regarding corporations and competition. One is Progressive Era movements for redistributive policies about taxation and public goods. Darwinian science also dominated the law of race relations, while criminal law reflected an inconsistent mixture of Darwinian and marginalist incentive-based theories. The common law, including family law, contract, property, and tort, moved from emphasis on correction of past harms to management of ongoing risk and relationship. A chapter on Legal Realism emphasizes the Realists' indebtedness to institutional economics, a movement that powerfully influenced American legal theory long after it fell out of favor with economists. Five chapters on the corporation, innovation and competition policy show how marginalist economics transformed business policy. The ironic exception was patent law, which developed in relative insulation from economic concerns about innovation policy. The book concludes with three chapters on public law, emphasizing the role of institutionalist economics in policy making during and after the New Deal. A lengthy epilogue then explores the variety of postwar attempts to reconstruct a defensible and more market-oriented rule of law after the decline of Legal Realism and the New Deal.
In America’s Constitution, one of this era’s most accomplished constitutional law scholars, Akhil Reed Amar, gives the first comprehensive account of one of the world’s great political texts. Incisive, entertaining, and occasionally controversial, this “biography” of America’s framing document explains not only what the Constitution says but also why the Constitution says it.

We all know this much: the Constitution is neither immutable nor perfect. Amar shows us how the story of this one relatively compact document reflects the story of America more generally. (For example, much of the Constitution, including the glorious-sounding “We the People,” was lifted from existing American legal texts, including early state constitutions.) In short, the Constitution was as much a product of its environment as it was a product of its individual creators’ inspired genius.

Despite the Constitution’s flaws, its role in guiding our republic has been nothing short of amazing. Skillfully placing the document in the context of late-eighteenth-century American politics, America’s Constitution explains, for instance, whether there is anything in the Constitution that is unamendable; the reason America adopted an electoral college; why a president must be at least thirty-five years old; and why–for now, at least–only those citizens who were born under the American flag can become president.

From his unique perspective, Amar also gives us unconventional wisdom about the Constitution and its significance throughout the nation’s history. For one thing, we see that the Constitution has been far more democratic than is conventionally understood. Even though the document was drafted by white landholders, a remarkably large number of citizens (by the standards of 1787) were allowed to vote up or down on it, and the document’s later amendments eventually extended the vote to virtually all Americans.

We also learn that the Founders’ Constitution was far more slavocratic than many would acknowledge: the “three fifths” clause gave the South extra political clout for every slave it owned or acquired. As a result, slaveholding Virginians held the presidency all but four of the Republic’s first thirty-six years, and proslavery forces eventually came to dominate much of the federal government prior to Lincoln’s election.

Ambitious, even-handed, eminently accessible, and often surprising, America’s Constitution is an indispensable work, bound to become a standard reference for any student of history and all citizens of the United States.
In this long-awaited successor to his landmark work A History of American Law, Lawrence M. Friedman offers a monumental history of American law in the twentieth century.

The first general history of its kind, American Law in the Twentieth Century describes the explosion of law over the past century into almost every aspect of American life. Since 1900 the center of legal gravity in the United States has shifted from the state to the federal government, with the creation of agencies and programs ranging from Social Security to the Securities Exchange Commission to the Food and Drug Administration. Major demographic changes have spurred legal developments in such areas as family law and immigration law. Dramatic advances in technology have placed new demands on the legal system in fields ranging from automobile regulation to intellectual property.

Throughout the book, Friedman focuses on the social context of American law. He explores the extent to which transformations in the legal order have resulted from the social upheavals of the twentieth century--including two world wars, the Great Depression, the civil rights movement, and the sexual revolution. Friedman also discusses the international context of American law: what has the American legal system drawn from other countries? And in an age of global dominance, what impact has the American legal system had abroad?

Written by one of our most eminent legal historians, this engrossing book chronicles a century of revolutionary change within a legal system that has come to affect us all.
The role that precedent plays in constitutional decision making is a perennially divisive subject among scholars of law and American politics. The debate rages over both empirical and normative aspects of the issue: To what extent are the Supreme Court, Congress, and the executive branch constrained by precedent? To what extent should they be? Taking up a topic long overdue for comprehensive treatment, Michael Gerhardt connects the vast social science data and legal scholarship to provide the most wide-ranging assessment of precedent in several decades. Updated to reflect recent legal cases, The Power of Precedent clearly outlines the major issues in the continuing debates on the significance of precedent and evenly considers all sides. For the Supreme Court, precedents take many forms, including not only the Court's past opinions, but also norms, historical practices, and traditions that the justices have deliberately chosen to follow. In these forms, precedent exerts more force than is commonly acknowledged. This force is encapsulated in the implementation and recognition of what Gerhardt calls the "golden rule of precedent," a major dynamic in constitutional law. The rule calls upon justices and other public authorities to recognize that since they expect others to respect their own precedents, they must provide the same respect to others' precedents. Gerhardt's extensive exploration of precedent leads him to formulate a more expansive definition of it, one that encompasses not only the prior constitutional decisions of courts but also the constitutional judgments of other public authorities. Gerhardt concludes his study by looking at what the future holds for the concept, as he examines the decisions and attitudes toward precedent exhibited by the shift from the Rehnquist to the Roberts Court. Authoritative and incisive, Gerhardt presents an in-depth look at this central yet understudied phenomenon at the core of all constitutional conflicts and one of undeniable importance to American law and politics. Ultimately, The Power of Precedent vividly illustrates how constitutional law is made and evolves both in and outside of the courts.
Americans revere their Constitution. However, most of us are unaware how tumultuous and improbable the drafting and ratification processes were. As Benjamin Franklin keenly observed, any assembly of men bring with them "all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests and their selfish views." One need not deny that the Framers had good intentions in order to believe that they also had interests. Based on prodigious research and told largely through the voices of the participants, Michael Klarman's The Framers' Coup narrates how the Framers' clashing interests shaped the Constitution--and American history itself. The Philadelphia convention could easily have been a failure, and the risk of collapse was always present. Had the convention dissolved, any number of adverse outcomes could have resulted, including civil war or a reversion to monarchy. Not only does Klarman capture the knife's-edge atmosphere of the convention, he populates his narrative with riveting and colorful stories: the rebellion of debtor farmers in Massachusetts; George Washington's uncertainty about whether to attend; Gunning Bedford's threat to turn to a European prince if the small states were denied equal representation in the Senate; slave staters' threats to take their marbles and go home if denied representation for their slaves; Hamilton's quasi-monarchist speech to the convention; and Patrick Henry's herculean efforts to defeat the Constitution in Virginia through demagoguery and conspiracy theories. The Framers' Coup is more than a compendium of great stories, however, and the powerful arguments that feature throughout will reshape our understanding of the nation's founding. Simply put, the Constitutional Convention almost didn't happen, and once it happened, it almost failed. And, even after the convention succeeded, the Constitution it produced almost failed to be ratified. Just as importantly, the Constitution was hardly the product of philosophical reflections by brilliant, disinterested statesmen, but rather ordinary interest group politics. Multiple conflicting interests had a say, from creditors and debtors to city dwellers and backwoodsmen. The upper class overwhelmingly supported the Constitution; many working class colonists were more dubious. Slave states and nonslave states had different perspectives on how well the Constitution served their interests. Ultimately, both the Constitution's content and its ratification process raise troubling questions about democratic legitimacy. The Federalists were eager to avoid full-fledged democratic deliberation over the Constitution, and the document that was ratified was stacked in favor of their preferences. And in terms of substance, the Constitution was a significant departure from the more democratic state constitutions of the 1770s. Definitive and authoritative, The Framers' Coup explains why the Framers preferred such a constitution and how they managed to persuade the country to adopt it. We have lived with the consequences, both positive and negative, ever since.
Judgement Calls tackles one of the most important and controversial legal questions in contemporary America: How should judges interpret the Constitution? Our Constitution contains a great deal of language that is vague, broad, or ambiguous, making its meaning uncertain. Many people believe this uncertainty allows judges too much discretion. They suggest that constitutional adjudication is just politics in disguise, and that judges are legislators in robes who read the Constitution in accordance with their own political views. Some think that political decision making by judges is inevitable, and others think it can be restrained by "strict constructionist" theories like textualism or originalism. But at bottom, both sorts of thinkers believe that judging has to be either tightly constrained and inflexible or purely political and unfettered: There is, they argue, no middle ground. Farber and Sherry disagree, and in this book they describe and defend that middle ground. They show how judging can be--and often is--both principled and flexible. In other words, they attempt to reconcile the democratic rule of law with the recognition that judges have discretion. They explain how judicial discretion can be exercised responsibly, describe the existing constraints that guide and cabin such discretion, and suggest improvements. In exploring how constitutional adjudication works in practice (and how it can be made better), Farber and Sherry cover a wide range of topics that are relevant to their thesis and also independently important, including judicial opinion-writing, the use of precedent, the judicial selection process, the structure of the American judiciary, and the nature of legal education. They conclude with a careful look at how the Supreme Court has treated three of the most significant and sensitive constitutional issues: terrorism, abortion, and affirmative action. Timely, trenchant, and carefully argued, Judgment Calls is a welcome addition to the literature on the intersection of constitutional interpretation and American politics.
In the first of the three volumes of his projected comprehensive narrative history of the role of law in America from the colonial years through the twentieth century, G. Edward White takes up the central themes of American legal history from the earliest European settlements through the Civil War. Included in the coverage of this volume are the interactions between European and Amerindian legal systems in the years of colonial settlement; the crucial role of Anglo-American theories of sovereignty and imperial governance in facilitating the separation of the American colonies from the British Empire in the late eighteenth century; the American "experiment" with federated republican constitutionalism in the founding period; the major importance of agricultural householding, in the form of slave plantations as well as farms featuring wage labor, in helping to shape the development of American law in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; the emergence of the Supreme Court of the United States as an authoritative force in American law and politics in the early nineteenth century; the interactions between law, westward expansion, and transformative developments in transportation and communiciation in the antebellum years; the contributions of American legal institutions to the dissolution of the Union of American states in the three decades after 1830; and the often-overlooked legal history of the Confederacy and Union governments during the Civil War. White incorporates recent scholarship in anthropology, ethnography, and economic, political, intellectual and legal history to produce a narrative that is both revisionist and accessible, taking up the familiar topics of race, gender, slavery, and the treatment of native Americans from fresh perspectives. Along the way he provides a compelling case for why law can be seen as the key to understanding the development of American life as we know it. Law in American History, Volume 1 will be an essential text for both students of law and general readers.

Professors Fischl and Paul explain law school exams in ways no one
has before, all with an eye toward improving the reader’s performance.
The book begins by describing the difference between educational
cultures that praise students for “right answers,” and the law school
culture that rewards nuanced analysis of ambiguous situations in which
more than one approach may be correct. Enormous care is devoted to
explaining precisely how and why legal analysis frequently produces such
perplexing situations.


But the authors don’t stop with mere description. Instead, Getting to Maybe
teaches how to excel on law school exams by showing the reader how
legal analysis can be brought to bear on examination problems. The book
contains hints on studying and preparation that go well beyond
conventional advice. The authors also illustrate how to argue both sides
of a legal issue without appearing wishy-washy or indecisive. Above
all, the book explains why exam questions may generate feelings of
uncertainty or doubt about correct legal outcomes and how the student
can turn these feelings to his or her advantage.


In sum, although the authors believe that no exam guide can
substitute for a firm grasp of substantive material, readers who devote
the necessary time to learning the law will find this book an invaluable
guide to translating learning into better exam performance.


“This book should revolutionize the ordeal of studying for
law school exams… Its clear, insightful, fun to read, and right on the
money.” — Duncan Kennedy, Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence, Harvard Law School  “Finally
a study aid that takes legal theory seriously… Students who master
these lessons will surely write better exams. More importantly, they
will also learn to be better lawyers.” — Steven L. Winter, Brooklyn Law School “If
you can't spot a 'fork in the law' or a 'fork in the facts' in an exam
hypothetical, get this book. If you don’t know how to play 'Czar of the
Universe' on law school exams (or why), get this book. And if you do
want to learn how to think like a lawyer—a good one—get this book. It's,
quite simply, stone cold brilliant.” — Pierre Schlag, University of Colorado School of Law (Law Preview Book Review on The Princeton Review website)

Attend a Getting to Maybe seminar! Click here for more information.

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title
Winner of the George Washington Book Prize

When the delegates left the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in September 1787, the new Constitution they had written was no more than a proposal. Elected conventions in at least nine of the thirteen states would have to ratify it before it could take effect. There was reason to doubt whether that would happen. The document we revere today as the foundation of our country’s laws, the cornerstone of our legal system, was hotly disputed at the time. Some Americans denounced the Constitution for threatening the liberty that Americans had won at great cost in the Revolutionary War. One group of fiercely patriotic opponents even burned the document in a raucous public demonstration on the Fourth of July.

In this splendid new history, Pauline Maier tells the dramatic story of the yearlong battle over ratification that brought such famous founders as Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Jay, and Henry together with less well-known Americans who sometimes eloquently and always passionately expressed their hopes and fears for their new country. Men argued in taverns and coffeehouses; women joined the debate in their parlors; broadsides and newspaper stories advocated various points of view and excoriated others. In small towns and counties across the country people read the document carefully and knew it well. Americans seized the opportunity to play a role in shaping the new nation. Then the ratifying conventions chosen by "We the People" scrutinized and debated the Constitution clause by clause.

Although many books have been written about the Constitutional Convention, this is the first major history of ratification. It draws on a vast new collection of documents and tells the story with masterful attention to detail in a dynamic narrative. Each state’s experience was different, and Maier gives each its due even as she focuses on the four critical states of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York, whose approval of the Constitution was crucial to its success.

The New Yorker Gilbert Livingston called his participation in the ratification convention the greatest transaction of his life. The hundreds of delegates to the ratifying conventions took their responsibility seriously, and their careful inspection of the Constitution can tell us much today about a document whose meaning continues to be subject to interpretation. Ratification is the story of the founding drama of our nation, superbly told in a history that transports readers back more than two centuries to reveal the convictions and aspirations on which our country was built.
New York Times Bestseller • Notable Book of the Year • Editors' Choice Selection
One of Bill Gates’ “Amazing Books” of the Year
One of Publishers Weekly’s 10 Best Books of the Year
Longlisted for the National Book Award for Nonfiction
An NPR Best Book of the Year
Winner of the Hillman Prize for Nonfiction
Gold Winner • California Book Award (Nonfiction)
Finalist • Los Angeles Times Book Prize (History)
Finalist • Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize

This “powerful and disturbing history” exposes how American governments deliberately imposed racial segregation on metropolitan areas nationwide (New York Times Book Review).

 

Widely heralded as a “masterful” (Washington Post) and “essential” (Slate) history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law offers “the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation” (William Julius Wilson). Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation; and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods. A groundbreaking, “virtually indispensable” study that has already transformed our understanding of twentieth-century urban history (Chicago Daily Observer), The Color of Law forces us to face the obligation to remedy our unconstitutional past.
White by Law was published in 1996 to immense critical acclaim, and established Ian Haney López as one of the most exciting and talented young minds in the legal academy. The first book to fully explore the social and specifically legal construction of race, White by Law inspired a generation of critical race theorists and others interested in the intersection of race and law in American society. Today, it is used and cited widely by not only legal scholars but many others interested in race, ethnicity, culture, politics, gender, and similar socially fabricated facets of American society.
In the first edition of White by Law, Haney López traced the reasoning employed by the courts in their efforts to justify the whiteness of some and the non-whiteness of others, and revealed the criteria that were used, often arbitrarily, to determine whiteness, and thus citizenship: skin color, facial features, national origin, language, culture, ancestry, scientific opinion, and, most importantly, popular opinion.
Ten years later, Haney López revisits the legal construction of race, and argues that current race law has spawned a troubling racial ideology that perpetuates inequality under a new guise: colorblind white dominance. In a new, original essay written specifically for the 10th anniversary edition, he explores this racial paradigm and explains how it contributes to a system of white racial privilege socially and legally defended by restrictive definitions of what counts as race and as racism, and what doesn't, in the eyes of the law. The book also includes a new preface, in which Haney Lopez considers how his own personal experiences with white racial privilege helped engender White by Law.
With the Supreme Court more influential than ever, this eye-opening book tells the story of how the Roberts Court is shaking the foundation of our nation's laws

From Citizens United to its momentous rulings regarding Obamacare and gay marriage, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts has profoundly affected American life. Yet the court remains a mysterious institution, and the motivations of the nine men and women who serve for life are often obscure. Now, in Uncertain Justice, Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz show the surprising extent to which the Roberts Court is revising the meaning of our Constitution.

This essential book arrives at a make-or-break moment for the nation and the court. Political gridlock, cultural change, and technological progress mean that the court's decisions on key topics—including free speech, privacy, voting rights, and presidential power—could be uniquely durable. Acutely aware of their opportunity, the justices are rewriting critical aspects of constitutional law and redrawing the ground rules of American government. Tribe—one of the country's leading constitutional lawyers—and Matz dig deeply into the court's recent rulings, stepping beyond tired debates over judicial "activism" to draw out hidden meanings and silent battles. The undercurrents they reveal suggest a strikingly different vision for the future of our country, one that is sure to be hotly debated.
Filled with original insights and compelling human stories, Uncertain Justice illuminates the most colorful story of all—how the Supreme Court and the Constitution frame the way we live.

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