Law

The future of conservatism, legally speaking

November 18, 2008
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The future of conservatism, legally speaking

In the aftermath of the Democratic Party’s broad success on Election Day, David Brooks argued last week, “the battle lines have already been drawn in the fight over the future of conservatism.” In her op-ed in yesterday’s National Law Journal, Ann Southworth explains that these rifts extend to lawyers. Drawing on the research she conducted for Lawyers of the Right: Professionalizing the Conservative Coalition, Southworth argues that while “lawyers might be expected to help unite the coalition … class and cultural conflict inhibits cooperation among lawyers for the various constituencies of the conservative alliance. These lawyers are fundamentally divided by social background, values, geography and professional identity.” Lawyers of the Right, published this month, provides a rich portrait of this diverse group of lawyers who represent conservative and libertarian nonprofit organizations. Featuring insights based on in-depth interviews with more than 70 lawyers, it explores their values and identities and traces the implications of their shared interest in promoting political strategies that give lawyers leading roles. “It remains to be seen,” Southworth points out, “whether the Republican Party will rebuild a winning coalition and what role lawyers might play in efforts to forge common ground within the party’s ranks.” But, in . . .

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The labyrinthine world of copyright law

August 15, 2008
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The labyrinthine world of copyright law

Eugene G. Schwartz offers an excellent review of Susan Bielstein’s guide through the labyrinthine world of visual image copyright law, Permissions, A Survival Guide: Blunt Talk about Art as Intellectual Property, for his latest posting on ForeWord magazine’s Publishing Matters blog: Before the internet, and especially before desk top publishing, you pretty much had to work with physical copies of things.… This imposed a variety of practical barriers that kept the leakage of rights to a minimum and concentrated its more substantial flow in the hands of professional thieves. All of that has changed—and with the low cost and ubiquity of scanners, cell phone cameras… gate-keeping the rights of images is like keeping a safe deposit box in a room with an open window. Nonetheless, the publishing industry still relies on copyright law as the foundation of its economic viability. As all who read ForeWord well know, publishers have struggled to cope with establishing rights in an electronic world, and authors and agents have been pushing back while warily going with the flow. All of this leads to a book I’d like to recommend to any of you who are interested in the subject, and especially if you deal . . .

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The other side of nineteenth-century NYC

July 18, 2008
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The other side of nineteenth-century NYC

Writing for the July 17 Times Higher Eduction Laurel Brake delivers an enthusiastic review of The Flash Press: Sporting Male Weeklies in 1840s New York—a book whose look at the provocative weeklies that proliferated in mid-nineteenth century NYC Brake notes, reveals an important, yet often overlooked, aspect of the city’s history and culture. From the review: Generically, mostly seem to be saucily illustrated weeklies, ranging from titillating to soft porn, including simple woodcuts, more than 50 of which are reproduced here. Their distribution points (which included hawker-newsboys, saloons, oyster bars, barber shops, steamboats and theatres), sporting connections and maps and accounts of brothels suggest that most were aimed at a bachelor subculture. An exception is the Whip and Satirist, whose detailed woman’s fashion column implies that it both sought female readers and employed women writers. Commentary and excerpts support the authors’ contention that the existence of this genre in antebellum New York establishes the city as cultural capital of the republic in low culture as well as high and indicates a dimension of this period and its press neglected in hegemonic accounts of this “Victorian” city. Read the review on the THE website. Also, read an excerpt . . .

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A map to the seamy corners of New York City

June 16, 2008
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A map to the seamy corners of New York City

In last Saturday’s edition of the Daily Telegraph Robert Douglas-Fairhurst reviewed The Flash Press: Sporting Male Weeklies in 1840s New York. In his review Douglas-Fairhurst gives a short overview of the social and historical significance of the “flash” papers—the nineteenth-century weeklies that covered and publicized New York City’s extensive sexual underworld—touching on their appeal to readers in the UK and taking an amusing jab at one of the Telegraph‘s competitors: “Flash” newspapers offered a titillating guide to the pleasures of urban life that had hitherto been spoken of only in hushed whispers: brothels, pornography, dog fights, playhouses, bare-knuckle boxing and more. Crammed into a handful of closely printed pages was up-to-date gossip, sexual scandal, handy tips on how to avoid picking up a prostitute with a glass eye (the key, it seemed, was to avoid women wearing veils), and blustering attacks on anyone, such as immigrants or “sodomites”, who might have threatened the developing group identity of these cocky young men about town. By 1842, four rival publications in New York “squawked in competition” for their custom. Adventurous readers could use the Flash, the Whip, the Rake or the Libertine as a map to the seamy corners of a city . . .

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“A curiously fleshy moment in the history of New York publishing”

June 2, 2008
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“A curiously fleshy moment in the history of New York publishing”

Yesterday the New York Times Sunday Book Review featured an excellent piece on Patricia Cline Cohen, Timothy J. Gilfoyle, and Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz’s The Flash Press: Sporting Male Weeklies in 1840s New York—a fascinating exhumation and examination of the weekly periodicals that covered and publicized nineteenth-century New York City’s extensive sexual underworld. Novelist Nicholson Baker writes for NYTBR: Cohen, Gilfoyle and a third writer, Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz have together produced The Flash Press, the first book-length survey of this strange rock-pool of 1840s profligacy. Readers of Kurt Andersen’s recent historical novel Heyday—and indeed everyone interested in knowing what New York City was like before the Civil War—will want to have a peek. The authors have managed to unearth and collate a remarkable amount of enriching detail about a curiously fleshy moment in the history of New York publishing. Nicholson concludes his review: Thanks to… the meticulous research of these three scholars, we once again have a way of looking through a tiny, smudged window into New York’s long-past illicit life. Oh, and the drawing of the chambermaid and her warming pan is on Page 101. Read the full review. NYT writer Jennifer Schuessler has a posting on the Paper Cuts . . .

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“A Salacious Era of New York City Sleaze”

May 19, 2008
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“A Salacious Era of New York City Sleaze”

Writing for last Tuesday’s Village Voice, none other than Tom Robbins has given Patricia Cline Cohen, Timothy J. Gilfoyle, and Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz’s new book, The Flash Press: Sporting Male Weeklies in 1840s New York an approving thumbs-up for its revealing look at New York City’s “flash papers”—the nineteenth-century weeklies that covered and publicized New York’s extensive sexual underworld. All but forgotten after the era’s burgeoning censorship and obscenity laws shut them down, as Robbins notes, the author’s recent discovery of a cache of these papers held by the American Antiquarian Society sheds new light on the magazines’ lurid tales of libidinous lechery. Robbins writes: Sex has always sold well. Most of us just assumed it took the likes of Larry Flynt, Al Goldstein, and the rest of that merry band of porn purveyors to finally get it openly on the newsstands. But now comes news that more than a century before them, an earlier breed of devilish publishers delighted readers with similar publications right here in New York. That discovery was no small thrill for historians of American smut when they unearthed copies of long-forgotten sex rags that flared briefly in the early 1840s. These Dead Sea Scrolls of . . .

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“Sporting news, theater gossip, humor, and not a little pornography”

May 12, 2008
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“Sporting news, theater gossip, humor, and not a little pornography”

Hugely popular in nineteenth century New York, “flash” papers—weeklies like the Flash and the Whip—capitalized on lurid tales of New York City’s extensive sexual underworld. But, due in part to the evolution of obscenity laws and libel, their success was short lived and the papers themselves fell into obscurity. Now, as Chronicle of Higher Education reviewer Kacie Glenn notes, the authors of The Flash Press: Sporting Male Weeklies in 1840s New York have produced a comprehensive historical document of both the tumultuous history of the papers, and the culture that consumed them. Glenn writes: The Flash Press: Sporting Male Weeklies in 1840s New York, written in association with the antiquarian society by Patricia Cline Cohen, a professor of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara; Timothy J. Gilfoyle, a professor of history at Loyola University Chicago; and Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, a professor of American studies and history at Smith College, has two parts: a critical analysis of the papers’ role in society and a collection of excerpts. The average flash-press reader was both a man about town and a respectable citizen, and the authors aim to decode the texts in light of those conflicting identities. “Ambiguity and deceit” . . .

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Press Release: Rosenberg, The Hollow Hope

May 2, 2008
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Press Release: Rosenberg, The Hollow Hope

Soon after The Hollow Hope’s initial publication, a reviewer declared that “one may not always agree with Rosenberg’s book, but it will be impossible to ignore it. It should set the terms of the debate about the role of the Supreme Court during the last decade of the twentieth century.” Having fulfilled all of this promise and then some during nearly two decades of intense argument over its conclusions, The Hollow Hope now returns—substantially expanded and updated—to chart the course of twenty-first century debate about whether courts can spur political and social reform. With new chapters that respond to his critics and address the courts’ role in the struggle for same-sex marriage rights, Gerald Rosenberg emphatically reasserts his powerful contention that it’s nearly impossible to generate significant reforms through litigation. The reason? American courts are ineffective and relatively weak—far from the uniquely powerful sources for change they’re often portrayed as. Rosenberg supports this claim by documenting the direct and secondary effects of key court decisions—particularly Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. Further illuminating these cases, as well as the ongoing fight for same-sex marriage rights, he also marshals impressive evidence to overturn the common assumption that even . . .

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Another tenure controversy

April 14, 2008
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Another tenure controversy

Disputes over tenure know no ideological bounds. Controversy surrounds the tenure status of another UCP author, this time with the criticism coming from a different corner of the political arena. John Yoo, author of The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11 is a tenured professor at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He has long been under attack for his role in authoring memos while working for the Department of Justice that were used to justify DoJ policies for the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists (including practices defined in international law as torture). A campaign has developed calling for Yoo’s ouster from his academic position. The story was covered today by the online publication Inside Higher Ed. Last week Christopher Edley, Jr. , the Dean of Boalt Hall, released a statement asserting that he had seen no evidence of wrongdoing that would merit Yoo’s dismissal. When we published his book, Yoo explained his view of executive war powers in an interview. Updated: The Chronicle of Higher Education has a roundup of blogger commentary on the Yoo case. . . .

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Race in America’s war on drugs

February 5, 2008
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Race in America’s war on drugs

Last Wednesday the Drug Law Blog authored by San Francisco attorney Alex Coolman ran an interesting interview with Doris Marie Provine, author of Unequal under Law: Race in the War on Drugs. The interview focuses on the topic of her book, exploring how issues of race have influenced American anti-drug efforts. Coolman prefaces the interview with some positive words about Provine’s fascinating new book: Professor Doris Marie Provine of Arizona State University’s School of Justice & Social Inquiry is the author of a really interesting and challenging new book called Unequal Under Law: Race in the War on Drugs. I keep coming back to this book as a reference point for talking about some of the thorniest issues related to the intersection of race with American action—and inaction—on drug policy. These are issues that are so big and obvious that they’re almost hard to recognize as issues. Unequal Under Law, however, does a really nice job of emphasizing that we are, in fact, making racial choices in drug policy—both consciously and unconsciously—that profoundly affect the lives of our fellow citizens. Read the interview on the Drug Law Blog. . . .

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