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"Rarely does history provide an obvious road map to solving new legal problems, but it does at least two other things . . . "

Karen Tani, the legal historian at Boalt Hall Law School (https://www.law.berkeley.edu/our-faculty/faculty-profiles/karen-tani/) recently wrote:
"Rarely does history provide an obvious road map to solving new legal problems, but it does at least two other things well: (1) it helps explain why the legal landscape looks the way it does; and (2) it illuminates the consequences of particular legal choices. This makes all the more valuable recent historical work that engages with political economy. We gain from this work a better sense of the political economies that produced our current configuration of laws. We also gain insights into how law constructs the political economy of the future—by sending signals about who will be insulated from the vicissitudes of “the market” and who will be exposed, whose rights can be bargained away and whose are too sacred, whose lives have value and whose do not."
Recent posts

More complicated than most states, the history of Texas . . .

"With the variety of granting systems in Texas under several different forms of government, timing is critical along with the history of the formation of the state, in order to understand the origin and development of a tract of land. More complicated than most states, the history of Texas serves as an important example of the importance of the history of a territory and the changes in its laws and policies over time . . . . Texas is no doubt more complex than most."

-Donald A. Wilson, Boundary Retracement: Processes and Procedures at 347-48 (2017).


Per D.W. Meinig, "The principal organizing system is chronology . . . "

"The principal organizing system is chronology, which is not in itself history but the scaffold upon which one constructs history. . . . [A]ny historical view clearly  implies a belief that the past has fundamental significance, one aspect of which is so pervasive as to be easily overlooked: the powerful fact that life must be lived amidst that which was made before. . . . The past endures . . . ."

-D.W. Meinig, "The Beholding Eye: Ten Versions of the Same Scene," in D.W. Meinig, ed., The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes: Geographical Essays at 43 (1979).

"[T]he past unsettles and destabilizes the stories we tell about law..."

One of the preeminent legal historians of the present day is Robert W. Gordon. I like what he has written here:

[T]he historicized past poses a perpetual threat to the legal rationalizations of the present. Brought back to life, the past unsettles and destabilizes the stories we tell about the law to make us feel comfortable with the way things are. Often  this is done by explaining how meanings and applications of legal terms have changed; or by exposing the origins of a rule in archaic cultural assumptions or barbaric practices or corrupt or authoritarian influences. Sometimes it is done by revealing the traces of such pasts continuing pervasively into the present.

Robert W. Gordon, Taming the Past: Essays on Law in History and History in Law 5 (2017).

I just ran across this interesting observation about history

I just ran across this interesting observation about history:

[T]here are two pasts. One is the sequence of occurred events, of actions which were performed  and of the actions which they called forth, moving through a complex sequence of actions until the present is reached. . . . There is another past. This is a perceived past. This is a much more plastic thing, more capable of being retrospectively reformed by human beings living in the present. It is the past which is recorded in memory and in writing, formed from encounters with "the hard facts," not just from inescapable but also from sought-for encounters.
Edward Shils, Tradition (1981) at 195.
And I agree with his next sentence: "The past is too vast for any human being ever to be in contact with all of it"[!]


I was a Key Clubber at Pampa High School