Of Christmas Caroling, Extortion, and Mistletoe

What, might you ask, do caroling and extortion have in common? Unless you’re very cynical, the answer probably should be “nothing.” Personally, I love the holidays and believe caroling is a lovely tradition. I still remember the last time I … Continue reading

What Is A ‘Straw Man’, and What Is the Connection to the Rise of the Jury Trial?

A colleague, while discussing corporate takeovers, recently asked me about the origins of the term straw man— hence this week’s blog entry. I’m always happy to make the connection between the contemporary and the historical! A straw man, as the … Continue reading

Is Trial By Combat Still a Possible Form of Legal Action?

Imagine you’ve just gotten a ticket for a motor vehicle violation. You have the right to defend yourself against it, but do you have the right to take up arms to do so? In other words, can you demand your right … Continue reading

…a few more esoteric Constitutional provisions…

My last entry had to do with whether President Obama could unilaterally use the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling. This prompted me to think about the handful of esoteric constitutional provisions that have faded into desuetude, been repealed … Continue reading

Can an ‘Obscure’ Amendment Really Be A Solution to the Debt Crisis?

It’s difficult to think of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that is truly “obscure”–although the 3rd Amendment is certainly an interesting historical relic as it restricts the government’s garrisoning of troops in civilian houses. However, some sections of the Constitution, including … Continue reading

Of Draco, “Draconian”, Irony, and Legal Reform

Today in a seminar someone said in passing that a company’s policies “were draconian”. It triggered a thought in my mind that the origins of the word had to do with Draco and his legal code, and I decided it would be interesting … Continue reading

Lawyer Jokes

Some years ago I was teaching a large survey course in Canadian Legal History. I decided it would be an unconventional but effective ice-breaker if I told the class that I was expecting them to come prepared to share their … Continue reading

What is constitutional autochthony?

I was recently asked a very interesting question, somewhat related to legal history: namely, what is constitutional autochthony? ‘Autochthony’ is a word that rarely surfaces in everyday English, but it is a synonym for ‘native’ or ‘indigenous’. It is most … Continue reading

Informal Law and Custom

While I had intended to discuss heartbalm actions further, that will have to wait for a future blog entry as I wanted to discuss the concept of ‘informal law’ in more detail. I have long found the concept of informal … Continue reading