How Many Constitutional Amendments Are There?

The short answer: the number of times the Supreme Court has ruled on a constitutional question. Every time the Supreme Court grants certiorari, allows a case to move ‘upwards’ from state and Federal courts to its chambers, and then proceeds to rule–keeping in mind the supposedly relevant precedents, and on the basis of a coherentContinue reading “How Many Constitutional Amendments Are There?”

Mass Incarceration And Teaching Philosophy Of Law

This coming spring semester, as in the just-concluded fall semester, I will be teaching Philosophy of Law. As I get down to thinking about my syllabus, one imperative seems overriding: I must ‘do more’ on mass incarceration (and related topics like the theory of punishment and the death penalty.) No topic seems more important, pressing,Continue reading “Mass Incarceration And Teaching Philosophy Of Law”

A Bad Teaching Day

Yesterday, I had a bad teaching day. First, I was scattered and disorganized in my Twentieth Century Philosophy class; I repeated a great deal of material we had already covered; I offered only superficial explanations of some important portions of the assigned reading; I did not answer questions from students satisfactorily. (It was pretty clearContinue reading “A Bad Teaching Day”

Geertz on Comparative Anthropology and the Law-Fact Distinction

(Continuing my series of notes on Clifford Geertz’s Local Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretive Anthropology, Basic Books, New York, 1983; earlier notes appear here and here.) Geertz’s Local Knowledge: Fact and Law in Comparative Perspective (first presented as the Storrs Lectures for 1981 at Yale Law School; an online version is available) should be essential reading for philosophers of law.Continue reading “Geertz on Comparative Anthropology and the Law-Fact Distinction”

Breaking News: The US Supreme Court is a Political Institution

Yesterday in Florence vs. Board of Freeholders, the US Supreme Court ruled that if you are arrested–for any reason whatsoever–the law-enforcement officials in charge of you can strip-search you. Over at ScotusBlog, Lyle Denniston sums it up a little better: Insisting that it has no expertise in how to run a jail or prison, theContinue reading “Breaking News: The US Supreme Court is a Political Institution”