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Featured Acquisitions - November 2013

 

   

Forming a More Perfect Union: A History of the Uniform Law Commission by Robert A Stein
Charlottesville, VA: Matthew Bender, 2013
Balcony KF165 .S74 2013

From its beginnings in 1892 in Saratoga, New York, The Uniform Law Commission has been a major force in maintaining and strengthening “federalism” in the United States. In order to maintain a healthy balance between state and federal law, state law must be strong and effective in areas where it has been traditionally applied. And in order for state law to be strong and effective, it must, when appropriate, be uniform across state lines. That is the mission of the Uniform Law Commission: “to promote uniformity in the law among the several States on subjects as to which uniformity is desirable and practicable.”

Many of the leading law reformers of the past 120 years have been commissioners on uniform state laws, including Samuel Williston, James Barr Ames, Roscoe Pound, William Draper Lewis, and John Wigmore – all giants of law reform in the early 20th century. The more than 2500 commissioners over the past 120 years include one United States President (Woodrow Wilson), four Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (Louis D. Brandeis, Wiley B. Rutledge, William H. Rehnquist and David H. Souter) and 22 Presidents of the American Bar Association.

This history of the Uniform Law Commission traces its development from an initial gathering in 1892 of 12 commissioners representing seven states to the present 381 commissioners from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The history records the Commission’s many accomplishments and challenges along the way through two world wars, a great depression and the promulgation of its greatest triumph, the Uniform Commercial Code.

Led by leaders of the practicing bar, brilliant academic lawyers, highly distinguished judges and legendary legislators, the Uniform Law Commission has promulgated more than 300 uniform and model acts for adoption by the states. This history is a must read for anyone interested in the forces that shaped American law since the founding of the nation and particularly over the past 120 years.


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In the Balance: Law and Politics on the Roberts Court by Mark Tushnet
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013
Balcony KF8775 .T87 2013

When John Roberts was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court, he said he would act as an umpire. Instead, his Court is reshaping legal precedent through decisions unmistakably--though not always predictably-- determined by politics as much as by law, on a Court almost perfectly politically divided. Harvard University law professor Mark Tushnet provides deep background, explaining how Federalist Society and "Supreme Court Bar" networks provide a politicized structure for Court appointments. He guides us through the Roberts Courts decisions on major issues including the hotly debated Affordable Care Act, gun rights, and business-related law. With special attention to recent Obama appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan (already the leader of the more "liberal" justices), In the Balance is a must-read for anyone looking for fresh insight into the judicial philosophies and complex interactions of those at the helm of Americas legal system and the implications for Americas future.


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Legitimizing Human Rights: Secular and Religious Perspectives edited by Angus J. L. Menuge
Farnham, Surrey, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013
Balcony K3240 .M48 2013

When does the exercise of an interest constitute a human right? The contributors to Menuge's edited collection offer a range of secular and religious responses to this fundamental question of the legitimacy of human rights claims. The first section evaluates the plausibility of natural and transcendent foundations for human rights. A further section explores the nature of religious freedom and the vexed question of its proper limits as it arises in the US, European, and global contexts. The final section explores the pragmatic justification of human rights: how do we motivate the recognition and enforcement of human rights in the real world? This topical book should be of interest to a range of academics from disciplines spanning law, philosophy, religion and politics.


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The True German : The Diary of a World War II Military Judge by Werner Otto Muller-Hill
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013
Basement DD247.M77 A3 2013

Werner Otto Müller-Hill served as a military judge in the Werhmacht during World War II. From March 1944 to the summer of 1945, he kept a diary, recording his impressions of what transpired around him as Germany hurtled into destruction--what he thought about the fate of the Jewish people, the danger from the Bolshevik East once an Allied victory was imminent, his longing for his home and family and, throughout it, a relentless disdain and hatred for the man who dragged his beloved Germany into this cataclysm, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. Müller-Hill calls himself a German nationalist, the true Prussian idealist who was there before Hitler and would be there after. Published in Germany and France, Müller-Hill's diary has been hailed as a unique document, praised for its singular candor and uncommon insight into what the German army was like on the inside. It is an extraordinary testament to a part of Germany's people that historians are only now starting to acknowledge and fills a gap in our knowledge of WWII.


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States of Union: Family and Change in the American Constitutional Order by Mark E. Brandon
Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2013
Balcony KF505 .B664 2013

In two canonical decisions of the 1920s--"Meyer v. Nebraska" and "Pierce v. Society of Sisters"--the Supreme Court announced that family (including certain relations within it) was an institution falling under the Constitutions protective umbrella. Since then, proponents of "family values" have claimed that a timeless form of family--nuclear and biological--is crucial to the constitutional order. Mark Brandons new book, however, challenges these claims. Brandon addresses debates currently roiling America--the regulation of procreation, the roles of women, the education of children, divorce, sexuality, and the meanings of marriage. He also takes on claims of scholars who attribute modern change in family law to mid-twentieth-century Supreme Court decisions upholding privacy. He shows that the "constitutional" law of family has much deeper roots.

Offering glimpses into American households across time, Brandon looks at the legal and constitutional norms that have aimed to govern those households and the lives within them. He argues that, well prior to the 1960s, the nature of families in America had been continually changing--especially during western expansion, but also in the founding era. He further contends that the monogamous nuclear family was codified only at the end of the nineteenth century as a response to Mormon polygamy, communal experiments, and Native American households. Brandon discusses the evolution of familial jurisprudence as applied to disputes over property, inheritance, work, reproduction, the status of women and children, the regulation of sex, and the legal limits to and constitutional significance of marriage. He shows how the Supreme Courts famous decisions in the latter part of the twentieth century were largely responses to societal change, and he cites a wide range of cases that offer fresh insight into the ways the legal system responded to various forms of family life. More than a historical overview, the book also considers the development of same-sex marriage as a political and legal issue in our time.

States of Union is a groundbreaking volume that explains how family came to be "in" the Constitution, what it has meant for family to be constitutionally significant, and what the implications of that significance are for the constitutional order and for families.


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For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law by Randall Kennedy
New York: Pantheon Books, 2013
Balcony KF4755.5 .K46 2013

In the wake of the Supreme Court's recent decision regarding Fisher v. University of Texas, For Discrimination is at once the definitive reckoning with one of America's most explosively contentious and divisive issues and a principled work of advocacy for clearly defined justice. What precisely is affirmative action, and why is it fiercely championed by some and just as fiercely denounced by others? Does it signify a boon or a stigma? Or is it simply reverse discrimination? What are its benefits and costs to American society? What are the exact indicia determining who should or should not be accorded affirmative action? When should affirmative action end, if it must?

Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School professor and author of such critically acclaimed and provocative books as Race, Crime, and the Law and the national best-seller Nigger: The Strange Careerof a Troublesome Word, gives us a concise, gimlet-eyed, and deeply personal conspectus of the policy, refusing to shy away from the myriad complexities of an issue that continues to bedevil American race relations. With pellucid reasoning, Kennedy accounts for the slipperiness of the term "affirmative action" as it has been appropriated by ideologues of every stripe; delves into the complex and surprising legal history of the policy; coolly analyzes key arguments pro and con advanced by the left and right, including the so-called color-blind, race-neutral challenge critiques the impact of Supreme Court decisions on higher education; and ponders the future of affirmative action.


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The Human Microbiome: Ethical, Legal and Social Concerns edited by Rosamond Rhodes, Nada Gilgorov, and Abraham Paul Schwab
Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013
Basement QR46 .H85 2013

The human microbiome is the bacteria, viruses, and fungi that cover our skin, line our intestines, and flourish in our body cavities. Work on the human microbiome is new, but it is quickly becoming a leading area of biomedical research. What scientists are learning about humans and our microbiomes could change medical practice by introducing new treatment modalities. This new knowledge redefines us as superorganisms comprised of the human body and the collection of microbes that inhabit it and reveals how much we are a part of our environment. The understanding that microbes are not only beneficial but sometimes necessary for survival recasts our interaction with microbes from adversarial to neighborly. This volume explores some of the science that makes human microbiome research possible. It then considers ethical, legal, and social concerns raised by microbiome research.

Chapters explore issues related to personal identity, property rights, and privacy. The authors reflect on how human microbiome research challenges reigning views on public health and research ethics. They also address the need for thoughtful policies and procedures to guide the use of the biobanked human samples required for advancing this new domain of research. In the course of these explorations, they introduce examples from the history of biomedical science and recent legal cases that shed light on the issues and inform the policy recommendations they offer at the end of each topic's discussion.

This volume is the product of an NIH Human Microbiome Project grant. It represents three years of conversations focused on consensus formation by the twenty-seven members of the interdisciplinary Microbiome Working Group. "The microbiome is a relatively new area of medical attention. Ethical issues related to the microbiome have barely been identified, much less carefully analyzed. This volume is an excellent start toward that ethical analysis. Many of the arguments are persuasive and provocative. In particular, some contributors challenge the ethical need for anonymizing microbiome specimens as well as the need for individual informed consent for specific uses of these specimens. I highly recommend this volume for all those interested in the microbiome and in new frontiers in medical ethics." -Leonard M. Fleck, Michigan State University


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Captured by Evil: The Idea of Corruption in Law by Laura S. Underkuffler
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013
Balcony K5261 .U55 2013

One of the most powerful words in the English language, "corruption" is also one of the most troubled concepts in law. According to Laura Underkuffler, it is a concept based on religiously revealed ideas of good and evil. But the notion of corruption defies the ordinary categories by which law defines crimes--categories that punish acts, not character, and that eschew punishment on the basis of religion and emotion. Drawing on contemporary examples--including former assemblywoman Diane Gordon and former governor Rod Blagojevich--Underkuffler explores the implications and dangers of maintaining such an archaic concept at the heart of criminal law. "Underkuffler challenges the traditional rational and logical characterizations of corruption and defends a highly original and insightul proposal. In her view corruption is an emotional concept grounded in religious ideas defying traditional criminal law doctrines. This book is a fantastic contribution to the study of corruption as well as more generally to the study of law and culture."--Alon Harel, Hebrew University Law School


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The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy by Richard A. Posner
Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, England: Harvard University Press, 2010
Basement HB501 .P646 2010

Following up on his timely and well-received book, A Failure of Capitalism, Richard Posner steps back to take a longer view of the continuing crisis of democratic capitalism as the American and world economies crawl gradually back from the depths to which they had fallen in the autumn of 2008 and the winter of 2009. By means of a lucid narrative of the crisis and a series of analytical chapters pinpointing critical issues of economic collapse and gradual recovery, Posner helps non-technical readers understand business-cycle and financial economics, and financial and governmental institutions, practices, and transactions, while maintaining a neutrality impossible for persons professionally committed to one theory or another. He calls for fresh thinking about the business cycle that would build on the original ideas of Keynes.

Central to these ideas is that of uncertainty as opposed to risk. Risk can be quantified and measured. Uncertainty cannot, and in this lies the inherent instability of a capitalist economy. As we emerge from the financial earthquake, a deficit aftershock rumbles. It is in reference to that potential aftershock, as well as to the government s stumbling efforts at financial regulatory reform, that Posner raises the question of the adequacy of our democratic institutions to the economic challenges heightened by the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. The crisis and the government s energetic response to it have enormously increased the national debt at the same time that structural defects in the American political system may make it impossible to pay down the debt by any means other than inflation or devaluation.


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Cellular Convergence and the Death of Privacy by Stephen B. Wicker
New York: Oxford University Press, 2013
Basement KF2780 .W53 2013

Cellular technology has always been a surveillance technology, but "cellular convergence" - the growing trend for all forms of communication to consolidate onto the cellular handset - has dramatically increased the impact of that surveillance. In Cellular Convergence and the Death of Privacy, Stephen Wicker explores this unprecedented threat to privacy from three distinct but overlapping perspectives: the technical, the legal, and the social. Professor Wicker first describes cellular technology and cellular surveillance using language accessible to non-specialists. He then examines current legislation and Supreme Court jurisprudence that form the framework for discussions about rights in the context of cellular surveillance. Lastly, he addresses the social impact of surveillance on individual users. The story he tells is one of a technology that is changing the face of politics and economics, but in ways that remain highly uncertain.