Legal History

990 ABA Journal Legal History articles.

Oct. 6, 1949: ‘Tokyo Rose’ convicted of treason
Wartime radio propagandist Iva D’Aquino was pardoned by President Gerald Ford in 1977. She died in 2006 at age 90.
Sept. 19, 1952: US pushes Charlie Chaplin into exile
Charlie Chaplin was the subject of intense FBI scrutiny, public attacks by influential politicians, defamatory press accounts, national boycotts by citizenship groups, and criminal charges tied to his relationship with a young actress.
What would it mean to impeach a president? (podcast)
The authority to impeach and remove a U.S. president is one of the legislative branch's most powerful weapons. But in the country's history, despite many periods of open hostility between Congress and the executive branch, no president has been removed from office through the impeachment procedure. Why is that?
July 13, 1863: Draft lottery sparks NYC riots
The Enrollment Act of 1863 required male citizens between ages 20 and 45 to register for conscription. In New York, 119 died after a mob halted a conscription lottery that exempted black men and wealthy whites.
June 19, 1972: Curt Flood loses ‘reserve clause’ challenge
Baseball’s reserve clause allowed total team control of a player’s career. Baseball’s hold on the American imagination and control of player contracts allowed it to survive the 1919 Black Sox scandal, the Great Depression, segregation, franchise relocations and two major U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
The organized bar must address attacks on the judiciary
It is a critical time for all citizens, and especially lawyers, to remain vigilant to protect the independence of the judiciary.

In recent years, and in recent days, attacks on the judiciary have increased, while public understanding of the essential role of the judiciary has diminished.
Trump pardons late boxer Jack Johnson, convicted for transporting white woman across state lines

President Donald Trump granted a rare posthumous pardon to the first black heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, in a case in which he was convicted of transporting a white woman…

First female justice of the peace gets obit after 116 years

The New York Times has published a belated obituary for a woman who became the country’s first female justice nearly 150 years ago.

The trailblazing woman, Esther Morris, died in…

How Nixon used a law firm stint to resurrect his political career and win the presidency (podcast)
After losing both the 1960 presidential election and the 1962 California governor’s race, Richard Milhous Nixon vowed at a press conference: “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore” and seemed to have written the epitaph to his political career. He left for New York and became a partner in a white shoe law firm. Yet six years later, he would win the White House, in no small part because of that firm.
ABA committee diligently and fairly evaluates credentials of federal judicial nominees
Since 1953, the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary has conducted independent, nonpartisan peer evaluations of the professional qualifications for nominees to the federal bench. The 15-member standing committee is independent of all other ABA activities and is not affected by ABA policies.
Speculation swirls over Supreme Court retirements
If Justice Anthony Kennedy decides to retire under President Trump, he would be following a long tradition of justices consciously leaving the court under a president of the same party who appointed them. A more complicated question is whether justices also seek to time their retirements with political or ideological goals in mind—and whether they have been successful.
May 22, 1856: Abolitionist beaten senseless on Senate floor
Sen. Charles Sumner was caned in U.S. Senate chambers. Rep. Preston Brooks took violent exception to a speech on slavery and unrest in the Kansas Territory.
Nixon in New York
Having his own firm gave Nixon access to deep-pocketed clients, allowed him to travel internationally and burnish his foreign policy credentials and, most importantly, helped build a formidable staff of top-notch lawyers, researchers and writers—a staff that did just about everything for him when it came time to ramp up for the 1968 campaign.
Roe v. Wade had broader impact than the public realizes, says author of ‘Beyond Abortion’ (podcast)
In the 45 years since Roe v. Wade was decided, it has been a focal point for both anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights groups. But the opinion in the 1973 case has also been used by activists of liberal, libertarian and conservative ideologies to develop privacy arguments for issues ranging from access to experimental drugs to euthanasia to personal data security to sex worker rights.
Martin Luther King Jr.‘s ‘spiritual confrontation of injustice’ still inspires, ABA president says

Millions of people worldwide remain inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s “spiritual confrontation of injustice,” says ABA President Hilarie Bass.

Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic civil right…

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