At our meeting last week, we reached decisions (at least for now) about our agenda for our next several meetings, and about how we’ll run our meetings.
Meetings and Dinner: We decided that we would plan on meeting biweekly on Thursday evenings at 7:15 pm in Dodd 399. We decided that we would like to have dinner at our meetings. I’ll make arrangements for food and everyone who comes can chip in a few dollars to cover the cost of the food. Please try to RSVP for meetings (or tell me if you’re a “maybe”) so that I know how much food I should arrange for.
Topics for Discussion: We decided that for our next three meetings, we’ll read articles from several writers classifiable as “legal realists.” At our second meeting, we’ll discuss Hohfeld’s article, “Some Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning,” 23 Yale L.J. 16 (1913). At our third meeting, we’ll discuss Robert Hale, “Coercion and Distribution in a Supposedly Noncoercive State,” 38 Political Science Quarterly 470 (1923), and at our fourth meeting, we’ll discuss Felix Cohen, “Transcendental Nonsense and the Functional Approach,” 35 Columbia Law Review 809 (1935). These articles, along with some helpful introductions, are all anthologized in David Kennedy & William Fisher III, The Canon of American Legal Thought (2006) (available on Amazon). They are also all available on JSTOR and/or Hein, and I’ll distribute copies of the introductions from the Kennedy & Fisher volume in advance of our meetings. Once we’ve worked through these three articles, we’ll pick something else to read.
Background on Realism: I promised that I would find some short background material on American Legal Realism. If you would like a very brief (5 page) overview of American Legal Realism, you might try the editors introduction to American Legal Realism (William Fisher III, Morton Horwitz, & Thomas Reed eds., 1993), which provides a very quick overview of the realist movement.
Discussion Format and Reading: We agreed that we’ll all try to do all of the reading, but anyone who hasn’t been able to do all of the reading is still completely welcome to come. To make things easier for anyone who doesn’t have time to read a whole article, I’ll send out a note in advance of each of our meetings noting some of the most important sections or pages of an article. We also agreed that we’ll try to have fairly unstructured discussions of the articles, but that one person will volunteer to come up with a few questions in advance of each meeting so that we have something to turn to in case discussion slows down (at least for now–we can see how this works and reevaluate if need be). Also, anyone who would like to do so should feel free to circulate questions that occur to them in advance of the meeting. In order to keep down the volume of emails, if you do come up with a question that you would like to circulate, please email it to me, and I’ll send out all of the questions that I receive to this list the day before the meeting in a single email.