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Workshops & Lectures

All workshops take place in the Penn Law Faculty Lounge, Silverman 144, from 12:00-1:15 pm.

Spring 2015


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Deborah Dinner, Washington University School of Law


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Michelle McKinley, Princeton University


Monday, May 4, 2015



Fall 2014


Wednesday, October 23, 2014

Robert W. Gordon, Professor of Law, Stanford Law School



Spring 2014


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Laura Kalman, Professor, Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

The Long Shadow of the Warren Court: LBJ, Nixon and the Making of the Modern Supreme Court

Between 1965 and 1971, two Presidents—one Democrat, one Republican—launched the greatest effort to control the Supreme Court since Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack it with additional justices in 1937.  Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon took action during a period when the Court, led by Earl Warren, the most influential Chief Justice since John Marshall, was transforming the meaning of the Constitution for civil rights, criminal procedure, reapportionment, religion and speech. These six years saw two successful Supreme Court nominations and two failed ones by LBJ, and four successful nominations and two failed ones by Nixon.  They also witnessed the first resignation of one Supreme Court justice because of White House pressure, along with the attempted impeachment of another.   Johnson’s and Nixon’s quests to consolidate Presidential power led to clashes with Congress that had lasting consequences for the way the Warren era is remembered, the Supreme Court as an institution, and the way Americans have selected and confirmed justices ever since.   The Long Shadow of the Warren Court focuses on the Presidential drive to dominate the Court between 1965 and 1971 and its strange legacies.

Laura Kalman is professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  She studies twentieth-century legal, political and constitutional history.  Her books include Legal Realism at Yale, 1927-1960Yale Law School and the Sixties: Revolt and ReverberationsAbe Fortas: A Biography; The Strange Career of Legal Liberalism;  and Right Star Rising: A New Politics.


Thursday, March 06, 2014

Gautham Rao, Assistant Professor, Department of History, American University

Excavating the Early American State: Law and Administration from Revolution to Republic

Gautham Rao is a historian of revolutionary America and the Early American Republic. He specializes in legal history and the history of capitalism and the state. He completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Chicago and has held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia. In 2007-8, he was a Samuel I. Golieb Fellow of Legal History at the New York University School of Law. He is currently working on his first book, tentatively titled At the Water’s Edge: Customhouses, Politics, Governance and the Origins of the Early American State (under contract with the University of Chicago Press). His article, “The Federal Posse Comitatus Doctrine: Slavery, Compulsion, and Statecraft in Mid-Nineteenth-Century America,” received the Erwin Surrency Award from the American Society for Legal History, and the James Madison Prize from the Society for the History of the Federal Government. He currently serves as the Chair of the Kathryn T. Preyer Competition for the American Society for Legal History, and on the editorial board of Law and History Review.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Karen Tani, Assistant Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Administrative Equal Protection: A History

Karen M. Tani is a scholar of U.S. legal history and social welfare law. Her research explores the legal architecture of the U.S. welfare state and the legal practices of its designers, administrators, critics, and beneficiaries. She teaches Torts, Legal History, and social welfare law.

Tani’s current research project is a book, provisionally titled “States of Dependency: Welfare, Rights, and American Governance, 1935-1965” (under contract with Cambridge University Press). The book examines legal contests over welfare benefits and administration in the years between the New Deal and the welfare rights movement. Other works-in-progress document “administrative constitutionalism” in federal social welfare agencies and Native American battles for welfare rights in the decade after World War Two. Tani’s published work includes “Welfare and Rights before the Movement: Rights as a Language of the State,” published in 2012 in the Yale Law Journal; an essay on the history of law and poverty (with Felicia Kornbluh) (Wiley-Blackwell 2013); and a book chapter on Asian American civil rights activism and the War on Poverty (University of Georgia Press, 2011).

Tani is the first graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s J.D./Ph.D. program in American Legal History. Following her law school graduation, she clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Prior to joining Berkeley Law, Tani was a Samuel I. Golieb Fellow in Legal History at New York University School of Law and the George Sharswood Fellow in Law and History at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Tani serves on the Board of Directors of the American Society for Legal History and is a member of the Organization of American Historians. She contributes regularly to the Legal History Blog. At Berkeley, Tani is an affiliate of the Center for the Study of Law and Society.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rebecca Rix, Assistant Professor of History, Princeton University

Legal and Natural Persons: Corporate Individuals in Nineteenth-Century Belonging, Citizenship and Government

Professor Rix specializes in the history of the United States in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. She is interested in the intellectual, cultural, and social production of political thought and the historical interplay of ideas and institutions. She teaches and studies the history of women and gender, social and political history, and legal history; she is interested in feminism and anti-feminism, social movements, civil society and philanthropy, conservatism, political economy, and state formation.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

David Lieberman, Professor of Jurisprudence and History, Berkeley Law

Bentham’s Jurisprudence and Democratic Theory: An Alternative to Hart’s Approach

David Lieberman joined the Boalt faculty in 1984. Before coming to Berkeley, he taught at Cambridge University and was a fellow and director of studies in history at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He served as associate dean of the Jurisprudence and Social Policy program and chaired the undergraduate Legal Studies Program from 2000-04. In 2003, he helped found the Consortium of Undergraduate Law and Justice Programs, an international organization of law and society departments and undergraduate majors. He currently is president of the Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies.

Lieberman is a recipient of research fellowships and awards from St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, the Institute of Historical Research, the American Bar Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science. He was an honorary research fellow of the Department of History at University College, London; a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School; and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences. His book, The Province of Legislation Determined: Legal Theory in Eighteenth Century Britain, received honorable mention for the 1990 British Council Prize.

Lieberman recently completed a critical edition of Jean Louis De Lolme’s 1771 The Constitution of England; or, An Account of the English Government. His other recent publications include “Adam Smith on Justice, Rights, Law” in Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith (2006); “The Mixed Constitution and the Common Law” in The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought (2006); “Legislation in a Common Law Context”, Zeitschrift fur Neuere Rechtsgeschichte (2005); and “Law/Custom/Tradition” in Questions of Tradition (2004).



Fall 2013

imageThursday, October 10

Mitra Sharafi, an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School

will present a chapter from her forthcoming book, Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947 (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Professor  Sharafi is a legal historian of South Asia. She holds law degrees from Cambridge and Oxford (the UK equivalent of a JD and LLM) and a doctorate in history from Princeton. Sharafi’s research has been supported by the Institute for Advanced Study through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council and other funding bodies. Her book, Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947 is forthcoming in 2014 with Cambridge University Press’ “Studies in Legal History” series (ed. Michael Lobban). It explores the legal culture of the Parsis or Zoroastrians of British India, an ethno-religious minority that was unusually invested in colonial law. Currently, Sharafi is at work on a project on medical jurisprudence in colonial India (including bloodstain analysis and poisoning). She is also writing a study of non-Europeans from across the British Empire who studied law at London’s Inns of Court during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Since 2010, her South Asian Legal History Resources website has shared research guides and other tools for the historical study of law in South Asia:


imageThursday, October 31  - cancelled

The  Law and History Consortium workshop with Professor Intisar Rabb has been cancelled. It may be rescheduled on a later date.





Fall 2012

imageWednesday, October 3

Holly Brewer, Associate Professor and Burke Chair of American History at the University of Maryland

“Twelve Judges in Scarlet’: The Seventeenth-Century Contest over a Common Law of Slavery for England and Its Empire”

 Seeing the slave law for the British empire from the perspective of the famous Somerset case of 1772 has obscured the vibrant debate within the English judicial system over the legality of slavery in England and its empire over more than a century. Not only was the Common Law on slavery changing profoundly during the seventeenth century; it was an instrument of policy. When Charles II failed to pass an imperial slave code via Parliament, he turned to the courts. His judges—really his in that they held their seats “during his pleasure”—presided over a series of rulings that made slavery legal in England itself —as well as its empire— by holding that people could be property and that their status was hereditary, whether as chattels or villeins. These rulings brought the phalanx of English property law to bear upon slavery. Otherwise slavery would have allowed either a limited feudal ownership, or been nothing more than piracy, a situation enforced by the sword and brute force, but not law. These cases provided the structure of regulation of markets that made slavery—as it existed in eighteenth and nineteenth century America–possible.  Charles and James II’s judges legitimated slavery via the same kind of arguments that they used to justify the king’s divine right to rule.  Hereditary slavery and hereditary monarchy were literally two sides of the same coin. However these rulings did not go unchallenged.  The Glorious Revolution, which dethroned a king who believed in his own divine right to rule and who overturned Parliamentary laws–also overturned—albeit in the end only temporarily— the slave rulings that James II and his brother Charles II had laboriously overseen. While by the early nineteenth century the institution of chattel slavery had largely lost sight of its ideological connection to absolutism, that is where it was born in the seventeenth century.


imageThursday, November 29

**This workshop will take place in the Rare Book Room, Tanenbaum Hall 253 (within the Biddle Law Library)**

Peter Pihos, Raoul Berger-Mark DeWolfe Howe Fellow in Legal History at Harvard Law School

“Who Governs the Police? Democracy, Law, and Power in 1970s Chicago”

This paper maps the legal and political struggles to control the use of force by Chicago police officers in the 1970s. There were four arenas of contestation: Police brutality became the focus of an internecine battle between radical black officers and the Chicago Police Department (CPD). Individual litigants, impact lawyers, and government attorneys fought to hold the CPD and its officers accountable in the courts. Activists also sought to fashion external forms of administrative review of police action. Finally, police brutality became the centerpiece of numerous political campaigns and a wedge issue for the development of independent black politics. Altogether, activists pragmatically employed a variety of strategies to leverage their available resources towards achieving black freedom from state violence. In contrast to the law or politics approach to analyzing civil rights campaigns, this paper revels in the interdependence of efforts to subordinate the police to cultural, legal, administrative, and political controls.

Peter Pihos is the Raoul Berger-Mark DeWolfe Howe Fellow in Legal History at Harvard Law School for 2012-2013. He is a candidate for a Ph.D. in history at the University of Pennsylvania where he is completing his dissertation, “Police Power and Civil Rights: The Battle for Chicago since the 1960s.” He has a law degree from NYU, where he was the Roger Baldwin Fellow in Civil Rights. Upon graduation, he clerked for the Honorable Diane P. Wood.

Spring 2013

imageWednesday, January 30

Malick Ghachem, Associate Professor, University of Maine Law School

The Antislavery Script: Haiti between the First and Second American Revolutions

This paper takes on the question of how best to understand the relationship between the Haitian Revolution and the North Atlantic revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that both preceded and followed it.  Since at least the time of the Seven Years War (1754-1763), if not earlier, the term “revolution” was associated with the ideal of liberation from slavery.  Yet until very recently, Haiti has had a relatively difficult time assuming its proper place in the comparative canon of revolutions.  A vast gap separated the metaphorical antislavery of classical republican thought from the actual overthrow of plantation slavery, which helps to explain why the American Revolution was never able to serve as a script for the Haitian Revolution.  And while Haiti’s emancipation was closely connected to the French Revolution, the transformation of Saint-Domingue in the 1790s drew upon colonial legal and ideological resources that predated the outbreak of revolution in France.  In the 1804 Haitian Declaration of Independence, Jean-Jacques Dessalines famously equated liberation from slavery with total rupture with France, a conflation that permitted the first of these imperatives to be obscured in the name of securing the other.  But Haiti’s revolutionary message was immediately outlawed by a hostile world that continued to tolerate the gap between metaphorical and plantation slavery.  It was left to the second American Revolution – Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation – to close this gap, in what amounted effectively to a fusion of the (first) American and Haitian revolutionary scripts.


Professor Ghachem teaches criminal law and procedure, legal history, and law and religion.

He practiced law in Boston from 2005 to 2010, working primarily in the areas of criminal defense, employment discrimination, and commercial/securities litigation.

Professor Ghachem holds undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in history from Stanford. He clerked during 2004 with the Honorable Rosemary Barkett of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Miami, and has also served as a lecturer in political science at MIT.

He is the author of The Old Regime and the Haitian Revolution (Cambridge University Press, March 2012) and has published several articles in the fields of French colonial and American legal history.

Professor Ghachem’s research interests include criminal procedure, the law of slavery and race, and the comparative law of religious freedom.


imageWednesday, March 20

Ariela Dubler, George Welwood Murray Professor of Legal History, Columbia Law School

“The Maternal Difficulty”




imageWednesday, April 3

Edward Purcell, Joseph Solomon Distinguished Professor, New York Law School

“Understanding Curtiss-Wright”


            United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. (1936) proclaimed the executive’s “plenary and exclusive power” in foreign affairs and became a paramount authority for unchecked Presidential power.  This article answers two historical questions:  where did the “plenary and exclusive” power language come from, and why did the Court adopt it?  It rejects the conventional understanding that Justice George Sutherland, the opinion’s author, “won the Court” to his long-held views and shows that Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes was pivotal to the Court’s action.  More important, it argues that Hughes and the majority Justices accepted the executive power language for pragmatic reasons of foreign policy—to lend support to President Franklin Roosevelt’s efforts to limit congressional neutrality legislation and to pursue an anti-Nazi foreign policy.  In addition, it explains two particular puzzles about the majority:  why Sutherland substantially changed his long-established views to incorporate the “plenary and exclusive” power language and why Justice Louis Brandeis ignored his principles of constitutional avoidance and separation of powers to accept that language.  Curtiss-Wright’s constitutional significance, it concludes, lies not in doctrine but in the light the case casts on the nature of Supreme Court decisionmaking and the dynamics of separated national powers.                    


Spring 2012

February 23, 2012

Michael Grossberg, Indiana University. “The Politics of Childhood: Law and Child Protection in Modern America.”  

Fall 2011

November 30, 2011

Sam Erman, Harvard University. “Puerto Rican Reconstruction: Race, Self-Government and Rhetoric, 1898-1917.”  

Spring 2011

January 31, 2011

Sarah Barringer Gordon, University of Pennsylvania. “The Spirit of the Law: Religious Voices and the Constitution in Modern America” 


February 1, 2011

Mary Sarah Bilder, Boston College School of Law. “Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention.” 


March 23, 2011

Michael Stolleis, University of Frankfurt. “Sovereignty in the Post-National Period.”


April 5, 2011

Lauren Benton, New York University. “Empire of Law: Rewriting the Legal history of Abolition.”


December 12, 2011

Serena Mayeri, University of Pennsylvania. Book Symposium: “Reasoning from Race: Feminism, Law, and the Civil Rights Revolution.”


Spring 2007

February 1, 2007

Kenneth Mack, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School. “Representing the Race: The Transformation of

Civil Rights Lawyering and Politics, 1920-1955: New Negro Lawyers (1920s-1930s).”  


February 26, 2007

Emily Kadens, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Texas at Austin.   


March 15, 2007

Barbara Welke, Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota.   

Fall 2006

October 30, 2006

Dan Ernst, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center. “The Politics of Administrative Procedure in the Late New Deal.”


November 13, 2006

Elizabeth Hillman, Professor of Law, Rutgers-Camden School of Law. “Defending America: Military Culture and the Cold War Court Martial”