History of Law

Magna Carta Remembered

Boston Lawyers Chapter Thursday, December 03, 05:00 PMJohn Adams Courthouse
Great Hall
One Pemberton Square
Boston, MA 02108


  • Associate Justice William J. Meade

The event is being held in conjunction with the “Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy 1215-2015” traveling banner exhibition which serves to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the historic document. Developed by the American Bar Association's (ABA) Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress and by the Library of Congress and its Law Library, the exhibition focuses on Lincoln Cathedral’s 1215 manuscript of Magna Carta, which stands as one of only four surviving original exemplifications from that year. The banner exhibit will be on display in Boston at the John Adams Courthouse from November 18, 2015 – early January 2016.

The Original View of Congress - Event Audio/Video

2015 National Lawyers Convention
Akhil Reed Amar, Louis Fisher, Tara Helfman, Gordon Lloyd, James L. Buckley November 16, 2015

What was the founders' conception of the role of Congress? Was that conception clearly understood? To what degree was that conception followed during our nation's early years and to what degree did early Congresses follow the Constitution? To what degree were members of Congress representing their districts and to what degree were they representing national interests? In what ways did the Senate and the House originally operate differently? Originally, the prevailing view was that “the laws that free men live under are the laws that have been hauled up." In other words, we are ruled by the laws that we and our neighbors made. Was this ever true?

Showcase Panel I: The Original View of Congress
9:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
Grand Ballroom

  • Prof. Akhil R. Amar, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University
  • Dr. Louis Fisher, Scholar in Residence, the Constitution Project
  • Prof. Tara J. Helfman, Associate Professor of Law, Syracuse University College of Law 
  • Dr. Gordon Lloyd, Robert and Katheryn Dockson Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University School of Public Policy
  • Moderator: Hon. James L. Buckley, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit (ret.) and former U.S. Senator

The Mayflower Hotel
Washington, DC

The Constitutional Foundations of Intellectual Property -- A Natural Rights Perspective - Podcast

Intellectual Property Practice Group Podcast
Seth L. Cooper, Randolph J. May, Mark F. Schultz October 22, 2015

Protection of intellectual property (IP) rights is indispensable to maintaining a vibrant economy, especially in the digital age as creativity and innovation increasingly take intangible forms. Long before the digital age, however, the U.S. Constitution secured the IP rights of authors and inventors to the fruits of their labors. The essays in The Constitutional Foundations of Intellectual Property: A Natural Rights Perspective explore the foundational underpinnings of intellectual property that informed the Constitution of 1787, and it explains how these concepts informed the further development of IP rights from the First Congress through Reconstruction. The essays address the contributions of important figures such as John Locke, George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Noah Webster, Joseph Story, Daniel Webster, and Abraham Lincoln to the development of IP rights within the context of American constitutionalism. Claims that copyrights and patents are not property at all are in fashion in some quarters. This book’s essays challenge those dubious claims. Unlike other works that offer a strictly pragmatic or utilitarian defense of IP rights, this book seeks to recover the Constitution’s understanding of IP rights as ultimately grounded in the natural rights of authors and inventors.


  • Seth L. Cooper, Senior Fellow, The Free State Foundation
  • Randolph J. May, President, The Free State Foundation
  • Prof. Mark F. Schultz, Senior Scholar & Co-Director of Academic Programs, Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, George Mason University School of Law and Associate Professor, Southern Illinois University School of Law

The Constitution: An Introduction

Short Video about the Constitution
Michael S. Paulsen, Luke Paulsen September 18, 2015

Constitutional scholar Michael Stokes Paulsen and his son, Luke Paulsen, discuss the project of their joint co-authorship of The Constitution: An Introduction, written over the course of 9 years and published in 2015. The book presents a general readers' account of the Constitution, from its origins to its basic provisions to its interpretation. Buy the book:

Liberty's First Crisis: Adams, Jefferson, and the Misfits Who Saved Free Speech - Podcast

Free Speech & Election Law Practice Group Podcast
Charles Slack, Stephen R. Klein August 27, 2015

When the United States government passed the Bill of Rights in 1791, its uncompromising protection of speech and of the press were unlike anything the world had ever seen before. But by 1798, the once-dazzling young republic of the United States was on the verge of collapse: Partisanship gripped the weak federal government, British seizures threatened American goods and men on the high seas, and war with France seemed imminent as its own democratic revolution deteriorated into terror. Suddenly, the First Amendment, which protected harsh commentary of the weak government, no longer seemed as practical. So that July, President John Adams and the Federalists in control of Congress passed an extreme piece of legislation that made criticism of the government and its leaders a crime punishable by heavy fines and jail time. Liberty’s First Crisis tells the story of the 1798 Sedition Act, the crucial moment when high ideals met real-world politics and the country’s future hung in the balance. Author Charles Slack discussed his latest book and answered questions from the audience.