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Featured Acquisitions - December 2012

 

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Law as a Leap of Faith by John Gardner
Oxford, UK; Oxford University Press, 2012
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How do laws resemble rules of games, moral rules, personal rules, rules found in religious teachings, school rules, and so on? Are laws rules at all? Are they all made by human beings? And if so how should we go about interpreting them? How are they organized into systems, and what does it mean for these systems to have 'constitutions'? Should everyone want to live under a system of law? Is there a special kind of 'legal justice'? Does it consist simply in applying the law of the system? And how does it relate to the ideal of 'the rule of law'?
These and other classic questions in the philosophy of law form the subject-matter of Law as a Leap of Faith. In this book John Gardner collects, revisits, and supplements fifteen years of celebrated writings on general questions about law and legal systems - writings in which he attempts, without loss of philosophical finesse or insight, to cut through some of the technicalities with which the subject has become encrusted in the late twentieth century. Taking his agenda broadly from H.L.A. Hart's The Concept of Law(1961), Gardner shows how the key ideas in that work live on, and how they have been and can still be improved in modest ways to meet important criticisms - in some cases by concession, in some cases by circumvention, and in some cases by restatement. In the process Gardner engages with key ideas of other modern giants of the subject including Kelsen, Holmes, Raz, and Dworkin. Most importantly he presents the main elements of his own unique and refreshingly direct way of thinking about law, brought together in one place for the first time.


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Called to Justice: The Life of a Federal Trial judge by Warren K. Urbom
Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 2012
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Early in his judicial career, United States District Judge Warren K. Urbom was assigned a yearlong string of criminal trials arising from a seventy-one-day armed standoff between the American Indian Movement and federal law enforcement officers at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. In Called to Justice Urbom provides the first behind-the-scenes look at what quickly became one of the most significant series of federal trials of the twentieth century. Yet Wounded Knee was only one set of monumental cases Urbom presided over during his years on the bench, a set that in turn forms but one chapter in a remarkable life story. Urbom's memoir begins on a small farm in Nebraska during the dustbowl 1930s. From making it through the Great Depression and drought to serving in World War II, working summers for his father's dirt-moving business, and going to school on the G.I. Bill, Urbom's experiences constitute a classic American story of making the most of opportunity, inspiration, and a little luck. Urbom gives a candid account of his time as a trial lawyer and his early plans to become a minister—and of the effect both had on his judicial career. His story offers a rare inside view of what it means to be a federal judge—the nuts and bolts of conducting trials, weighing evidence, and making decisions—but also considers the questions of law and morality, all within the framework of a life well lived and richly recounted.


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Lincoln's Code: the Laws of War in American History by John Fabian Witt
New York: Free Press, 2012
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In the fateful closing days of 1862, three weeks before Emancipation, the administration of Abraham Lincoln commissioned a code setting forth the laws of war for the armies of the United States. The code announced standards of civilized conduct in wartime concerning issues such as torture, prisoners of war, civilians, spies, and slaves. The code Lincoln approved ultimately shaped the course of the Civil War. And when the war was over, the same code reshaped warfare the world over. By the twentieth century, the 157 articles of Lincoln’s code had become the basis of a new international law of war. European powers adopted the American code. International agreements like the Geneva Conventions incorporated and expanded it.
In this pathbreaking and deeply original book, John Fabian Witt tells the hidden story of the laws of war in the first century of the United States–and of the extraordinary code that emerged from it to change the course of world history.Lincoln’s Code is the haunting and inspiring story of an idea in American history: the idea that conduct in war can be regulated by law. For many, the very idea of a law for war has seemed like an oxymoron. But with sweep and vitality, Witt unfolds the story of the cast of characters who invented the modern laws of war. Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin championed Enlightenment rules for civilized warfare.


   

The Rejected: Sketches of the 26 Men Nominated for the Supreme Court but Not Confirmed by the Senate by J. Myron Jacobstein and Roy M. Mersky
Milpitas, CA: Toucan Valley Publications, 1993
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The United States Constitution provides that the president “…shall nominate and, by and with the consent of the Senate, shall appoint…judges of the Supreme Court.” The difficulties recent Presidents have had in obtaining that “consent of the Senate” for their Supreme Court nominations is not a new phenomenon. From President Washington to President Reagan, 16 of the 39 Presidents have had one or more of their nominees rejected.


   

Invisible Chains: Canada's Underground World of Human Trafficking by Benjamin Perrin
Toronto; New York: Viking Canada: Penguin Group, 2010
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Just outside Toronto, a fourteen-year-old Canadian girl is auctioned on Craigslist for men to purchase by the hour. A violent criminal lures a teenage girl through Facebook and forces her to be sold for sex in British Columbia. A young woman is taken by slave traders from an African war zone to Canada to exploit her in prostitution. A mother makes a desperate plea for the safe return of her missing Canadian daughter who fears she has been trafficked to Las Vegas.
Hidden in plain sight, occurring in our own communities, the global problem of human trafficking is only beginning to be recognized in Canada. While other countries have been actively protecting victims and prosecuting traffickers for more than a decade, Canada’s response has been lethargic. Until 2005 human trafficking wasn’t even listed as a Criminal Code offence. Victims are often left to fend for themselves after escaping or being rescued, and their exploiters are rarely charged. Canada has no national action plan to combat human trafficking.


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The Law of Superheroes by James E. Daily and Ryan M. Davidson
New York: Gotham Books, 2012
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The dynamic duo behind the popular website LawAndTheMultiverse.com breaks down even the most advanced legal concepts for every self-proclaimed nerd.
James Daily and Ryan Davidson—attorneys by day and comic enthusiasts all of the time—have clearly found their vocation, exploring the hypothetical legal ramifications of comic book tropes, characters, and powers down to the most deliciously trivial detail.


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The Colorado Doctrine: Water Rights, Corporations, and Distributive Justice on the American Frontier by David Schorr
New Haven [Conn. : Yale University Press, 2012
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Making extensive use of archival and other primary sources, David Schorr demonstrates that the development of the “appropriation doctrine,” a system of private rights in water, was part of a radical attack on monopoly and corporate power in the arid West. Schorr describes how Colorado miners, irrigators, lawmakers, and judges forged a system of private property in water based on a desire to spread property and its benefits as widely as possible among independent citizens. He demonstrates that ownership was not dictated by concerns for economic efficiency, but by a regard for social justice.


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In the Smaller Scope of Conscience: The Struggle for National Repatriation Legislation, 1986-1990 by C. Timothy McKeown
Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2012
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In 1989, The National Museum of the American Indian Act (NMAIA) was successfully passed after a long and intense struggle. One year later, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) followed. These federal repatriation statutes—arguably some of the most important laws in the history of anthropology, museology, and American Indian rights—enabled Native Americans to reclaim human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony.
Twenty years later, the controversy instigated by the creation of NMAIA and NAGPRA continues to simmer. In the Smaller Scope of Conscience is a thoughtful and detailed study of the ins and outs of the four-year process behind these laws. It is a singular contribution to the history of these issues, with the potential to help mediate the ongoing debate by encouraging all sides to retrace the steps of the legislators responsible for the acts.
Few works are as detailed as McKeown’s account, which looks into bills that came prior to NMAIA and NAGPRA and combs the legislative history for relevant reports and correspondence. Testimonies, documents, and interviews from the primary players of this legislative process are cited to offer insights into the drafting and political processes that shaped NMAIA and NAGPRA.
Above all else, this landmark work distinguishes itself from earlier legislative histories with the quality of its analysis. Invested and yet evenhanded in his narrative, McKeown ensures that this journey through history—through the strategies and struggles of different actors to effect change through federal legislation—is not only accurate but eminently intriguing.


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From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-sex Marriage by Michael J. Klarman
Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013
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Same-sex marriage has become one of the most volatile issues in American politics. But if most young people support gay marriage, and if there are clear indicators that a substantial majority of the population will soon favor it, why has the outcry against it been so strong? Bancroft Prize-winning historian and legal expert Michael Klarman here offers an illuminating and engaging account of modern litigation over same-sex marriage. After looking at the treatment of gays in the decades after World War II and the birth of the modern gay rights movement with the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969, Klarman describes the key legal cases involving gay marriage and the dramatic political backlashes they ignited. He examines the Hawaii Supreme Court's ruling in 1993, which sparked a vast political backlash - with more than 35 states and Congress enacting defense-of-marriage acts- and the Massachusetts decision in Goodridge in 2003, which inspired more than 25 states to adopt constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Klarman traces this same pattern - court victory followed by dramatic backlash - through cases in Vermont, California, and Iowa, taking the story right up to the present. He also describes some of the collateral political damage caused by court decisions in favor of gay marriage - Iowa judges losing their jobs, Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle losing his seat, and the possibly dispositive impact of gay marriage on the 2004 presidential election. But Klarman also notes several ways in which litigation has accelerated the coming of same-sex marriage: forcing people to discuss the issue, raising the hopes and expectations of gay activists, and making other reforms like civil unions seem more moderate by comparison. In the end, Klarman discusses how gay marriage is likely to evolve in the future, predicts how the U.S. Supreme Court might ultimately resolve the issue, and assesses the costs and benefits of activists' pursuing social reforms such as gay marriage through the courts. From the Closet to the Altar will stand as the definitive one-volume history of the tumultuous emergence of same-sex marriage in American life as well as a landmark study of litigation, social reform, and the phenomenon of political backlash to court decisions.


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Tax-exempt Organizations and Constitutional Law: Nonprofit Law as Shaped by the U.S. Supreme Court by Bruce R. Hopkins
Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012
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Constitutional law and policy directly affecting tax-exempt organizations.