“Out of many, one.” But how do the many become one without sacrificing difference or autonomy? This problem was critical to both identity formation and state formation in late 18th- and 19th-century America. The premise of this book is that American writers of the time came to view the resolution of this central philosophical problem as no longer the exclusive province of legislative or judicial documents but capable of being addressed by literary texts as well.
The project of E Pluribus Unum is twofold. Its first and underlying concern is the general philosophic problem of the one and the many as it came to be understood at the time. W. C. Harris supplies a detailed account of the genealogy of the concept, exploring both its applications and its paradoxes as a basis for state and identity formation.
Harris then considers the perilous integration of the one and the many as a motive in the major literary accomplishments of 19th-century U.S. writers. Drawing upon critical as well as historical resources and upon contexts as diverse as cosmology, epistemology, poetics, politics, and Bible translation, he discusses attempts by Poe, Whitman, Melville, and William James to resolve the problems of social construction caused by the paradox of e pluribus unum by writing literary and philosophical texts that supplement the nation’s political founding documents.
Poe (Eureka), Whitman (Leaves of Grass), Melville (Billy Budd), and William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience) provide their own distinct, sometimes contradictory resolutions to the conflicting demands of diversity and unity, equality and hierarchy. Each of these texts understands literary and philosophical writing as having the potential to transform-conceptually or actually-the construction of social order.
This work will be of great interest to literary and constitutional scholars.
“Solomon’s fascinating and sweeping history of the legal fight over mandatory school prayers is compelling, judicious, and elegantly written. Fabulous!”
—David Rudenstine, Dean, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
“Stephen Solomon’s Ellery’s Protest provides a brilliant analysis of a major Supreme Court decision that redefined the relationship between church and state almost a half century ago. This study goes well beyond simply offering a gripping account of the course of litigation that brought before the Justices the contentious issue of prayer and Bible reading in public schools, though the thoroughness of that account would merit careful reading by itself. Especially impressive is the author’s deep probing of hitherto neglected sources, and invaluable primary material including extensive direct contact with the plaintiff, the ‘Ellery’ of the book’s title. Finally, and perhaps most impressive, is Solomon’s careful placement of the issue and the case in a far broader context that is as critical to national life and policy today as it was four and a half decades ago when the high Court first tackled these questions.”
—Robert O’Neil, Professor of Law, University of Virginia
Great legal decisions often result from the heroic actions of average citizens. Ellery’s Protest is the story of how one student’s objection to mandatory school prayer and Bible reading led to one of the most controversial court cases of the twentieth century—and a decision that still reverberates in the battle over the role of religion in public life.
Abington School District v. Schempp began its journey through the nation’s courts in 1956, when sixteen-year-old Ellery Schempp protested his public school’s compulsory prayer and Bible-reading period by reading silently from the Koran. Ejected from class for his actions, Schempp sued the school district. The Supreme Court’s decision in his favor was one of the most important rulings on religious freedom in our nation’s history. It prompted a conservative backlash that continues to this day, in the skirmishes over school prayer, the teaching of creationism and intelligent design, and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance with the phrase “under God.”
Author Stephen D. Solomon tells the fascinating personal and legal drama of the Schempp case: the family’s struggle against the ugly reactions of neighbors, and the impassioned courtroom clashes as brilliant lawyers on both sides argued about the meaning of religious freedom. But Schempp was not the only case challenging religious exercises in the schools at the time, and Ellery’s Protest describes the race to the Supreme Court among the attorneys for four such cases, including one involving the colorful atheist Madalyn Murray.
Solomon also explores the political, cultural, and religious roots of the controversy. Contrary to popular belief, liberal justices did not kick God out of the public schools. Bitter conflict over school Bible reading had long divided Protestants and Catholics in the United States. Eventually, it was the American people themselves who removed most religious exercises from public education as a more religiously diverse nation chose tolerance over sectarianism. Ellery’s Protest offers a vivid account of the case that embodied this change, and a reminder that conservative justices of the 1950s and 60s not only signed on to the Schempp decision, but strongly endorsed the separation of church and state.
While freedom of speech has been guaranteed us for centuries, the First Amendment as we know it today is largely a creation of the past eighty years. Eternally Vigilant brings together a group of distinguished legal scholars to reflect boldly on its past, its present shape, and what forms our understanding of it might take in the future. The result is a unique volume spanning the entire spectrum of First Amendment issues, from its philosophical underpinnings to specific issues like campaign regulation, obscenity, and the new media.
"With group efforts, such as this collection of essays, it is almost inevitable that there will be a couple—and often several—duds among the bunch, or at least a dismaying repetition of ideas. Such is not the case here. . . . Whether one agrees with a given author or not (and it is possible to do both with any of the essays), each has something to add. Overall, Eternally Vigilant is a thoughtful and thought-provoking book, consistently intelligent and, at times, brilliant."—Richard J. Mollot, New York Law Journal
Lillian R. BeVier
Lee C. Bollinger
Owen M. Fiss
R. Kent Greenawalt
Richard A. Posner
Robert C. Post
Geoffrey R. Stone
David A. Strauss
Cass R. Sunstein
John Compton shows how evangelicals, not New Deal reformers, paved the way for the most important constitutional developments of the twentieth century. Their early-1800s crusade to destroy property that made immorality possible challenged founding-era legal protections of slavery, lotteries, and liquor sales and opened the door to progressivism.
How does one prove the law? If your neighbor breaks your window, the law regulates how you can show your claim to be true or false; but how do you prove that in breaking your window your neighbor has broken the law? American jurisprudence devotes an elaborate body of doctrine—and an equally elaborate body of accompanying scholarly commentary—to worrying about how to prove facts. It establishes rules for the admissibility of evidence, creates varying standards of proof, and assigns burdens of proof that determine who wins or loses when the facts are unclear. But the law is shockingly inexplicit when addressing these issues with respect to the proof of legal claims. Indeed, the entire language of evidentiary proof, so sophisticated when it comes to questions of fact, is largely absent from the American legal system with respect to questions of law.
As Gary Lawson shows, legal claims are inherently objects of proof, and whether or not the law acknowledges the point openly, proof of legal claims is just a special case of the more general norms governing proof of any claim. As a result, similar principles of evidentiary admissibility, standards of proof, and burdens of proof operate, and must operate, in the background of claims about the law. This book brings these evidentiary principles for proving law out of the shadows so that they can be analyzed, clarified, and discussed. Viewing legal problems through this lens of proof illuminates debates about everything from constitutional interpretation to the role of stipulations in litigation. Rather than prescribe resolutions to any of those debates, Evidence of the Law instead provides a set of tools that can be used to make those debates more fruitful, whatever one’s substantive views may be. As lawyers, judges, and legal subjects confront uncertainty about what the law is, they can, should, and must, Lawson argues, be guided by the same kinds of abstract considerations, structures, and doctrines long used to make determinations about questions of fact.