Legal History

1078 ABA Journal Legal History articles.

Afternoon Briefs: Secretaries get extra bonuses at this law firm; AG Barr warns of liberal DAs

Secretaries at this law firm get extra bonuses; associates left out

Goodwin Procter will pay an extra $1,000 to all secretaries to recognize “hard work during these challenging times,” according…

Oct. 24, 1865: The ‘Demon of Andersonville’ is convicted

Capt. Heinrich Hartmann Wirz wasn’t the only Confederate soldier prosecuted for war crimes after the Civil War—there were thousands of them—but Wirz was easily the most reviled.

Is this a moment or a movement? 6 civil rights lawyers reflect on recent demands for racial justice

Lawyers have a long tradition of supporting efforts to bring racial and social justice to this country. Recent killings of unarmed Black people by police have sparked a new wave of protests and demonstrations on a scale not seen in decades. Once again, the nation has been forced to pay attention.

Constitutional scholars sound warning on SCOTUS and the separation of church and state
The separation of church and state is a concept that is often talked about, but there's hardly a national consensus on what that should look like—or whether it should exist at all. In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has been shifting towards an "accomodationist" interpretation, say the authors of The Religion Clauses: The Case for Separating Church and State. To Erwin Chemerinsky and Howard Gillman, this is a dangerous approach.
History shows how SCOTUS nominations play out in election years

There are parallels between President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s recess appointment of William J. Brennan Jr. and the vacancy created by the Sept. 18 death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just weeks before the presidential election, 1956 “was a very different time from what is happening now,” says Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute.

‘Demagogue’ tells the story of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s rise and fall
What made 1950s America vulnerable to a man like Joseph McCarthy, a junior senator from Wisconsin? In Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, author Larry Tye takes an in-depth look at McCarthy's life.
Unusual nuisance law cited in suit for Tulsa massacre reparations; one plaintiff is 105
A lawsuit filed in Oklahoma this week seeks damages for a continuing nuisance stemming from the 1921 Tulsa massacre in an affluent neighborhood known as the Black Wall Street.
‘Talk less, smile more’: The Hamilton-Burr conundrum law students face today

Law students, like Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, are facing questions of whether to stay silent or speak up about societal issues such as social justice in this country, their interests and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Afternoon Briefs: Trump pardons Susan B. Anthony; suspect in lawyer’s murder claims memory loss

Trump pardons Susan B. Anthony

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is granting a posthumous pardon to Susan B. Anthony, the women’s suffragist who was convicted for casting a…

ABA releases a cookbook to mark centennial of 19th Amendment’s ratification
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” reads the 19th Amendment, which was ratified on this day 100 years ago.
Convicted of a crime that never occurred? It happens all too often, law prof says
We are used to hearing about wrongful convictions in which a murderer walked free because an innocent person was misidentified. But when Jessica S. Henry, a professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey, was researching material for her course on wrongful convictions, she discovered that in one-third of all known exonerations, the conviction was wrongful because there had not even been a crime.
Army lawyer let Sen. McCarthy ‘hang himself’ through his own words, says author of new bio

“The Army-McCarthy hearings would rightfully be compared to a soap opera, even though there was no infidelity or seduction, the plot meandered, and the only real star was a hired-gun solicitor,” writes author Larry Tye.

Appeals court won’t use word ‘grandfathering’ because of racist origins
The Massachusetts Appeals Court has taken a stand against the word “grandfathering” in a footnote highlighting its racist origins.
Activists are fighting new voter suppression tactics in court

Despite legislative achievements, it wasn’t long until end runs were made around voter protection laws, and those efforts are alive and well, election law attorneys and voting rights advocates say.

Sept. 5, 1969: Murder charges in My Lai massacre

“The fog of war—the uncertainty and confusion of battle—makes prosecution of war crimes difficult, at best. Dead civilians become collateral damage—the lamentable result of bad aim, poor training and faulty intelligence. But when the chain of command is complicit, it becomes all but impossible.”

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