Critical Legal Thought - L6173
Professor Katherine Franke
Mondays & Wednesdays 1:20 - 2:40
Room JG 105
The concepts "public law" and "private law," as well the notions of "canon," "field" and "foundational curriculum," all rest on a set of unstated premises for their integrity. Certain legal concepts, forms of reasoning, and values are privileged, while others are marginalized and devalued, if not ignored. Critical Legal Thought will introduce second-semester, first-year law students to a range of critical approaches to law with the goal of giving them tools for testing legal arguments, assertions of legal pedigree, and the underlying normative premises that often make certain legal outcomes seem just, if not inevitable. Further, the constitutive courses of the first-year curriculum will be critically examined.
The first weeks of the semester will examine the underlying structure of "regular law," including the work done by legal positivists, and formalists. From there we will cover critical approaches to the assertion of law's objectivity and rationality. Beginning with Legal Realism and it's progeny Critical Legal Studies, readings will cover Feminist and Critical Race critiques of law's aspiration to objectivity and neutrality. We will then move to examine the foundational curriculum - Torts, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, and Civil Procedure.
Students will be evaluated based on class participation, one short paper, and a final open-book take home paper in which they will be expected to articulate their own critical evaluations of the material covered during the semester.
Laptops will not be permitted in this class.
Readings will be available for purchase from the SIPA copy center.
Professor Franke's Coordinates:
Office: Room 627
Office Hours: Wednesdays 3 - 4:30 or by appointment, sign up sheet on my door
Professor Franke's Assistant: Cindy Gao, 854-0167, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction - January 22nd
DeShaney v. Winnebago County
Peter Slevin, In Filling Supreme Court Vacancy, Obama Looks for a Jurist With Empathy, Washington Post, May 13, 2009
As you read the DeShaney case I want you to be thinking about the following questions:
How does Justice Rehnquist see the role of the judge in a hard case? Do Justices Brennan and Blackmun have different accounts?
What role should empathy play in the project of finding a just result? How does the sympathy that a judge might use to inform his or her decision-making relate to the fiction of the "reasonable person"?
Shouldn't legal reasoning be characterized by objectivity, neutrality, predictability and determinacy? If so, how can empathy and emotion figure in legal adjudication?
Is finding a just result necessarily the same thing as finding whether or not the plaintiff has a right under the Constitution in this case? That is to say, is there some daylight between the concept of law and the concept of justice?
What does Justice Blackmun mean when he accuses the majority of the Court of "sterile formalism"?
Should law have a grounding in morality? Is this what Justice Blackmun means when says that law should have a moral ambition on p. 1012?
Law's Relation to Morality - January 27th
Lord Patrick Devlin, The Enforcement of Morals (1965)
H.L.A. Hart, "Immorality and Treason," The Listener (1959)
Excerpt from Jacobellis v. State of Ohio
Excerpt from Bowers v. Hardwick
Excerpt from Lawrence v. Texas
When you say: "It is the law that X" - what does putting "It is the law that" in front of X add to the proposition? Does it, and if so how does it, give you additional reasons for doing X? How do those who ground the nature of law in morality answer this question?
How does a natural law approach to legal rules help answer the question: "why ought one obey the law?"
For natural law theorists, what does it mean for something to be an immoral law? Or an unjust law?
What is the relationship between moral validity and legal validity?
What is the relation of law to morality in the excerpt from Bowers v. Hardwick?
How does the Supreme Court's approach change in Lawrence v. Texas? How does Justice Kennedy affect that change?
Legal Positivism - January 29th
How well does Austin's "command theory" of law describe a legal system such as ours in the U.S.?
How does Hart frame the weaknesses of Austin's command theory of law?
Is Hart's concept of law best characterized as an analytic theory of law (a theory in the abstract that offers a generalizable account of what law is in a top down fashion) or as a kind of descriptive sociology (a theory of law the is more bottom up in the sense that offers a coherent description of the social facts of law and would speak to existing and varied social phenomena, accommodate social realities, and 'fit the facts')?
Does the court in Riggs v. Palmer apply the law to the facts in a manner that accords with Hart's account of law?
Is Riggs a hard or easy case for Hart?
Legal Formalism - February 3rd
Antonin Scalia, Common-Law Courts in a Civil-Law System: The Role of United States Federal Courts in Interpreting the Constitution and Laws, in Scalia, A Matter of Interpretation (1997)
David Sosa, The Unintentional Fallacy, 86 Cal. L.Rev. 919 (1998)
U.S. v. Rector of the Holy Trinity Church, 143 U.S. 457 (1892)
How does Justice Scalia think courts should treat hard cases? What would he consider to be a hard case? How does his view differ from Sosa's view of hard cases?
What does Justice Scalia see as the source of legitimacy for the law? Why does he attach so much importance to what he terms the "objective intent" of legislators and what does he mean by that phrase?
How is Sosa's view of legislative intent different from Scalia's?
What does Scalia see as the role of judges in the legal system? Is Sosa's argument at odds with Scalia's theory about the relationship between judges and democratic institutions?
What did the Supreme Court of Canada see as its role in the Persons Case, and what method of judicial adjudication did it adopt? Was this any different from the method of adjudication used by the Privy Council on appeal, and if so, how was it different?
Which elements of the Holy Trinity Church case reflect textualism? Originalism? Purposivism?
Oliver Wendell Holmes and the Roots of Legal Realism - February 5th
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Book Review, 14 Am. L. Rev. 234 (1880)
Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Path of the Law (1897)
Lochner v. New York (1905) (Holmes, J., dissenting)
The Legal Realists - February 10th
Karl N. Llewellyn, A Realistic Jurisprudence --The Next Step, 30 Colum. L. Rev. 431 (1930)
Felix Cohen, Transcendental Nonsense and the Functional Approach, 35 Colum. L. Rev. 809 (1935)
David B. Wilkins, Legal Realism for Lawyers, 104 Harv. L.Rev. 468 (1990)
M. Witmark & Sons v. Fred Fisher Music Co., 125 F2d 949, 954-956 (2d Cir. 1942) (Frank, J., dissenting)
Holmes wrote that "general propositions cannot decide concrete cases" - how do the realists take this insight further than did Holmes?
How do the Legal Realists formulate and then defend the idea that legal rules are radically indeterminate?
How would you formulate a "realist" skepticism about the value of any general or abstract theory of law?
Are they able to avoid the slippery slope to an "anything goes" theory of adjudication?
If the realists reject rules as a fundamental value in legal reasoning, what do they substitute in their place? That is, what do they value?
Wilkins discusses the challenges of realist insights to the problem of legal ethics. How does realism similarly pose problems for legal education?
How does Cohen use the idea of a corporation to express indeterminacy of language?
How does Cohen attack the traditional ideas of objectivity, neutrality, and determinacy?
What does he offer as a solution to the problems he sees in legal fictions?
Do you agree that judges disregard or lack insight into the human affairs behind their decisions?
Does Cohen's critique apply only to things that are difficult to "thingify" or to other concepts we might of think as more concrete?
What do the Realists see as being gained by focusing on human affairs/human behavior?
Does drawing the focus away from legal fictions and towards human behavior cure the problems of indeterminacy?
How does the distinction between real rules and paper rules illuminate the critique of Realists?
Critical Legal Studies - February 12th & 17th
Mark Tushnet, An Essay on Rights, 62 Tex. L. Rev. 1363 (1984)
Derrick A Bell, Brown v. Board of Education and the Interest-Convergence Dilemma, 93 Harv. L.Rev. 518 (1980)
Paul Carrington, Of Law and the River, 34 J. Legal. Educ. 222 (1984)
Robert W. Gordon, Letter to Paul Carrington, 35 J. Legal Educ. 1 (1985)
Richard Michael Fischl, The Question That Killed Critical Legal Studies, 17 L. & Soc. Inq. 779 (1992)
Return to Norms - Dworkin's Theory of Legal Interpretation For Common Law Courts - February 19th
Feminist Legal Theory - February 24th & 26th
Martha Fineman, Gender and Law: Feminist Legal Theory's Role in the New Legal Realism, 2005 Wisc.L. Rev. 405
Jennifer Wriggins, Toward A Feminist Revision of Torts, 13 J. of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 139 (2005)
Critical Race Theory - March 3rd & March 5th
Angela Harris, Race and Essentialism in Feminist Legal Theory, 42 Stan.L.Rev. 581 (1990)
Rogers v. American Airlines, 527 F.Supp. 229 (S.D.N.Y. 1981)
Derrick Bell, Racial Realism
Mari Matsuda, Looking to the Bottom: Critical Legal Studies and Reparations
Law & Society: The Fact/Law Distinction Examined - March 10th
Daniel v. Guy, 23 Ark. 50 (1861)
Baltimore & O. R. Co. v. Goodman, 275 U.S. 66 (1927)
Goodman's Brief in Baltimore & O. R. Co. v. Goodman
State v. Whitehead, unpublished opinion (Ct. App. La 2006)
Ron Levi and Mariane Valverde, Knowledge on Tap: Police Science and Common Knowledge in the Legal Regulation of Drunkenness, 26 Law & Social Inquiry 819 (2001)
Hate Speech and the Supreme Court - March 12th
Snyder v. Phelps
Richard Delgado, Words that Wound: A Tort Action for Racial Insults, Epithets and Name-Calling
Judith Butler, Excitable Speech
March 14th & 16th - Spring Break
THE FIRST YEAR CURRICULUM REVISITED
Margaret Jane Radin, Compensation and Commensurability, 43 Duke L.J. 56 (1993)
Viviana A. Zelizer, The Purchase of Intimacy, 25 L. Soc. Inquiry 817 (2000)
Martha Chamallas & Linda Kerber, Women, Mothers and the Law of Frights: A History, 88 Mich.L.Rev. 814 (1990)
Alderson v. Bonner, 132 P.3d 1261 (Idaho App. 2006)
Stewart Macaulay, Non-Contractual Relations in Business: A Preliminary Study, 28 Am Soc. Rev. 55 (1963)
Sally Falk Moore, Law and Social Change: The Semi-Autonomous Social Field as an Appropriate Subject of Study, 7 Law & Soc. Rev. 719 (1973)
Robert E. Scott and William J. Stuntz, Plea Bargaining as Contract, 101 Yale L. J. 1909 (1991)
In Re Altro, 180 F.3d 372 (2d Cir. 1999)
George Washington's Last Will and Testament www.pbs.org/georgewashington/milestones/free_slaves_read.html
Letter from Abigail Adams to Mrs. Richard Cranch, Dec. 21, 1800 (handwritten and typed)
Alice Curtis Desmond, Martha Washington: Our First Lady pp. 297-98 (1943)
Cheryl Harris, Whiteness as Property, 106 Harv.L.Rev. 1709 (1993)
How Should Legal Education Adjust to Current Changes in Law Practice?
Daniel Thies, Rethinking Legal Education in Hard Times: The Recession, Practical Legal Education, and the New Job Market, 59 Journal of Legal Education 598 (2010)
Judith Welch Wegner, Response: More Complicated Than We Think, 59 Journal of Legal Education 623 (2010)
Optional: Scott Westfahl, Response: Time to Collaborate on Lawyer Development, 59 Journal of Legal Education 645 (2010)
Paul D. Carrington, Hail! Langdell!, 20 Law & Soc. Inquiry 691 (1995) - optional reading
Laura Kalman, To Hell with Langdell! 20 Law & Soc. Inquiry 771 (1995) - optional reading
Review of Prior Exam Questions - Sample Questions.pdf
FINAL PAPER TOPIC DISTRIBUTED April 25 at 4:00 pm due April 29th at 5:00pm