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Law and History

Historians have served as expert witnesses, filed amicus briefs, and shaped judicial thinking on topics ranging from criminal procedure and Second Amendment rights to employment discrimination and same-sex marriage. This seminar will explore both sides of the two-way interaction between law and history. How do historians draw on legal sources to explain change over time? In turn, how do lawyers and judges draw on historical sources to advance legal arguments? Given the disciplinary and methodological differences between lawyers and historians, how can or should history inform law? In Part I, “Law as History,” we will examine examples of recent scholarship on legal history. In Part II, “History as Law,” we will examine recent Supreme Court cases in which historians, historical research, and/or popular narratives about history have played an important role. Students will have two options for the final paper: (1) a legal history research paper or (2) an advocacy paper or mock brief that uses historical research to intervene in a doctrinal or policy debate. Enrollment limited. [3]