Legal History

983 ABA Journal articles on Legal History.

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…

Judicial independence—an essential American value
It was 1936, and America was suffering through the throes of the Great Depression. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had just been re-elected in a landslide. The Democrats controlled the Congress with wide majorities in the House and Senate.
Linda Brown, the ‘symbolic center’ of Brown v. Board of Education, dies

A woman who was central to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision died Sunday.

Linda Brown Thompson was “the symbolic center” of the case, the

Uncovering the secret history of how corporations gained their civil rights (podcast)
When we think of civil rights movements, the first to spring to mind might be the battles against African-American segregation or for women's suffrage. But one of the longest, most successful–and least-known–of these movements in America has been made on behalf of corporations. In this episode of the Modern Law Library, professor Adam Winkler, author of We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights, shares what he learned from his investigation into how corporations have achieved constitutional protections ranging from the right to sue and be sued, to individual rights like religious liberty protections and free speech.
March 20, 1907: Authorities quarantine ‘Typhoid Mary’ Mallon
“Typhoid Mary” Mallon was linked to 53 cases of typhoid fever, including three deaths.
Trump attorney’s statement that he paid Stormy Daniels $130K raises ethics questions
Michael D. Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, said Tuesday that he used his own money to pay a porn actress $130,000 who is alleged to have claimed to have had an affair with Trump before he became president. But the statement, made to the New York Times, has raised ethics questions.
DOJ explains Jeff Sessions’ improvised reference to the ‘Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement’
Attorney General Jeff Sessions departed from his prepared remarks on Monday when he called the office of sheriff a “critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement.”

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