Legal History

Prof. Names '100 Most Creative Moments in American Law'

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Calling on as many legal history teachers as he could, a Valparaiso University law school professor has come up with an intriguing list of the “100 Most Creative Moments in American Law.”

In 2005, Robert F. Blomquist sent letters to some 426 American professors who noted that they teach legal history. He asked them to proffer their thoughts on which were the most creative moments in Anglo-American law.

Blomquist reports that he was pleasantly surprised at how many got back to him about his novel research project. He describes the project in this SSRN abstract, “American revolutionaries, constitutionalists, legislators, chief executives, judges, administrators, scholars and activists have creatively changed the law for over two centuries in mostly positive ways with some admittedly questionable innovations.”

The paper is meant to explore the meaning of creative moments in law and to compare legal creativity with other kinds of creativity, specifically corporate, artistic, military and rhetorical.

Here’s the first five from the Top 100 list (PDF):

  1. The Constitution of the United States (1787) and the ratification debates (1787-1788)

  2. The Declaration of Independence (1776)

  3. The Bill of Rights (1791-1792)

  4. The Articles of Confederation (1777)

  5. The Ordinance of 1787: the Northwest Territorial Government

Also on the list at No. 23 is the GI Bill and at No. 68 is “Al Gore, Earth in the Balance (1992) and An Inconvenient Truth (2006).” The Sherman Anti-Trust Act (1890) comes in at No. 71.

Which moments would you include? Answer in the comments below.

Hat tip Legal History Blog.

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