Monday, December 29, 2014

Tocqueville's Nightmare: The Administrative State Emerges in America, 1900-1940

Daniel R. Ernst (Georgetown Law). Tocqueville's Nightmare (Oxford University Press, 2014).

"In the 1830s, the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that 'insufferable despotism' would prevail if America ever acquired a national administrative state. Today's Tea Partiers evidently believe that, after a great wrong turn in the early twentieth century, Tocqueville's nightmare has come true. In those years, it seems, a group of radicals, seduced by alien ideologies, created vast bureaucracies that continue to trample on individual freedom. Tocqueville's Nightmare, shows, to the contrary, that the nation's best corporate lawyers were among the creators of 'commission government,' that supporters were more interested in purging government of corruption than creating a socialist utopia, and that the principles of individual rights, limited government, and due process were designed into the administrative state. "
Publisher's website

Monday, December 22, 2014

Fighting Westway: Environmental Law, Citizen Activism, and the Regulatory War that Transformed New York City

William W. Buzbee (Georgetown Law). Fighting Westway (Cornell University Press, 2014).

"From 1971 to 1985, battles raged over Westway, a multibillion-dollar highway, development, and park project slated for placement in New York City. It would have projected far into the Hudson River, including massive new landfill extending several miles along Manhattan’s Lower West Side. . . . Buzbee reveals how environmentalists, citizens, their lawyers, and a growing opposition coalition, despite enormous resource disparities, were able to defeat this project supported by presidents, senators, governors, and mayors, much of the business community, and most unions. . . . Buzbee goes beyond the veneer of government actions and court rulings to illuminate the stakes, political pressures, and strategic moves and countermoves that shaped the Westway war, a fight involving all levels and branches of government, scientific conflict, strategic citizen action, and hearings, trials, and appeals in federal court."
Publisher's website

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Comparative Matters: The Renaissance of Comparative Constitutional Law

Ran Hirschl (University of Toronto). Comparative Matters (Oxford University Press, 2014).

"Through an extensive exploration of comparative constitutional endeavours past and present, near and far, Hirschl shows how attitudes towards engagement with the constitutive laws of others reflect tensions between particularism and universalism as well as competing visions of who 'we' are as a political community. Drawing on insights from social theory, religion, history, political science, and public law, Hirschl argues for an interdisciplinary approach to comparative constitutionalism that is methodologically and substantively preferable to merely doctrinal accounts. The future of comparative constitutional studies, he contends, lies in relaxing the sharp divide between constitutional law and the social sciences."
Publisher's website

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Comic Art, Creativity and the Law

Marc H. Greenberg (Golden Gate University). Comic Art, Creativity and the Law (Edward Elgar, 2014).

"The creation of works of comic art, including graphic novels, comic books, cartoons and comic strips, and political cartoons, is affected, and at times limited, by a diverse array of laws, ranging from copyright law to free speech laws. This book examines how this intersection affects the creative process, and proposes approaches that encourage, rather than limit, that process in the comic art genre. Attention to the role comic art occupies in popular culture, and how the law responds to that role, is also analyzed."
Publisher's website

Thursday, December 11, 2014

An Introduction to Empirical Research

Lee Epstein (Washington University) & Andrew D. Martin (University of Michigan). An Introduction to Empirical Research (Oxford University Press, 2014).

"As the role of empirical methods in traditional legal scholarship and practice grows, new forms of education are needed for today's lawyers. All lawyers asked to present or assess empirical arguments need to understand the fundamental principles of social science methodology that underpin sound empirical research. An Introduction to Empirical Research presents that methodology in a legal context, explaining how empirical analysis can inform legal arguments; how lawyers can set about framing empirical questions, conducting empirical research, analyzing data, and presenting or evaluating the results. The fundamentals of understanding data, statistical models, and the structure of empirical arguments are explained in a way accessible to lawyers with or without formal training in statistics."
From book jacket

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Right to Flee: Refugees, States, and the Construction of International Cooperation

Phil Orchard (University of Queensland). A Right to Flee: Refugees, States, and the Construction of International Cooperation (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

"Since the seventeenth century, a mix of collective interests and basic normative understandings held by states created a space for refugees to be separate from other migrants. However, ongoing crisis events undermine these understandings and provide opportunities to reshape how refugees are understood, how they should be protected, and whether protection is a state or multilateral responsibility. Drawing on extensive archival and secondary materials, Phil Orchard examines the interplay among governments, individuals, and international organizations that has shaped how refugees are understood today."
Publisher's website

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Justice through Apologies: Remorse, Reform, and Punishment

Nick Smith (University of New Hampshire). Justice through Apologies (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

"After rejecting court-ordered apologies as unjustifiable humiliation, this book explains that penitentiaries were originally designed to bring about penance – something like apology – and that this tradition has been lost in the assembly line of mass incarceration. Smith argues that the state should modernize these principles and techniques to reduce punishments for offenders who demonstrate moral transformation through apologizing. Smith also explains the counterintuitive situation whereby apologies come to have considerable financial worth in civil cases because victims associate them with priceless matters of the soul. Such confusions allow powerful wrongdoers to manipulate perceptions to disastrous effect, such as when corporations or governments assert that apologies do not equate to accepting blame or require reform or redress."
Publisher's website