Events Calendar

Now viewing: Thursday, February 15, 2024

Faculty Colloquium - Samuel Moyn, Yale University

TNH 2.111 (Sheffield-Massey Room)


As many Americans once again worry that their democracy is hostage to judicial power, this Article is an archival reconstruction of how famed Harvard law professor James Bradley Thayer set out on a mission to stave off the syndrome before it stuck — though he failed in the end.

The Article shows how Thayer (1831-1902) arrived at his epochmaking theory of judicial deference to safeguard Congress’s power after democratic revolutions of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Indeed, he hoped to see America transformed in the direction of British legislative supremacy, in which Parliament — and not the courts — reigned supreme. Scandalized by growing ventures to weaponize the federal judiciary so as to preempt the newly federalized American democracy, Thayer bet on something new in global history: mass democracy on a national scale, understood as an experiment in collective learning. The Article thereby provides a new periodization and transatlantic contextualization of the struggles over judicial fiat routinely associated the Supreme Court’s defense of laissez-faire in the early twentieth century.

And yet, as this Article emphasizes, Thayer failed in the long run. His democratizing fix, judicial self-restraint under the “clear error standard” — which this Article shows had the same English roots as his democratic and parliamentary theory — has tragically misled reform. It embroiled Americans in a neverending debate on judicial “restraint,” even as Thayer proposed a doctrinal prescription encouraging judges to limit their power themselves. He therefore postponed an institutional remedy for an institutional syndrome. For this reason, his mission, in spite of its partial implementation after his death, now has to be rescued in its own right. Judicial self-restraint has not prevented the continuation and even the intensification of the very juristocratic syndrome Thayer rightly found so troubling. If Americans still remain with him at the dawn of our commitment to democracy, they will have to save it from judges in a new way all their own

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Employer Info Session: Department of Family and Protective Services

TNH 3.124 (Neathery Classroom)

Please RSVP by Wednesday, February 14, on Symplicity.

The Department of Family and Protective Services seeks to promote safe and healthy families and protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Join this information session to learn more about DFPS's varied work in these areas and employment/internship opportunities available to law students.

Panelists include:

Kellie Starr Price '07, DFPS Special Projects Attorney

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Texas Law Review Mandatory Write-On Information Session

TNH 2.114 (Francis Auditorium)

Any Texas Law students interested in participating in the write-on competition are invited to attend this information session. Attendance at this meeting is mandatory in order to enroll in the write-on process, which takes place after finals and qualifies you for consideration by all the journals. Members of the Texas Law Review will be available to answer any questions and talk about their experiences on TLR. Lunch will be provided!

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The Words That Made Us: America's Constitutional Conversation Over the Nature of the Government and the Rights of the People

TNH 2.139 (Wilson Classroom)

Please join the Texas Federalist Society at 12 PM on Thursday, February 15 in TNH 2.139 as Yale University Professor of Law and Political Science Akhil Reed Amar discusses his book The Words That Made Us and explores the biggest constitutional questions confronted by early Americans––and what answers they came to.

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Professor Mock Trial

CCJ 2.306 (Eidman Courtroom)

BOA will hold a mock trial with your favorite trial advocacy professors competing. More info TBD.

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