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History of Law

Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor

Exhibition at the Library of Congress Co-Sponsored by The Federalist Society November 06, 10:00 AMLibrary of Congress
101 Independence Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20540
Magna Carta: Muse & Mentor logo

The Library of Congress will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the first issue of Magna Carta with a 10-week exhibition from Thursday, November 62014 through Monday, January 192015. The 1215 Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta will be the centerpiece of the exhibition. In addition, there will be approximately 75 items from the Law Library of Congress and from various other divisions of the Library, which will tell the story of 800 years of Magna Carta’s influence on the history of political liberty.

The Library’s exhibition will demonstrate how interpretations of Magna Carta through the centuries led to the constitutional guarantees of individual liberty brought forth by the Founding Fathers of the United States. It will describe how a number of the most basic principles of the U.S. Constitution—consent of the governed, the right to a trial by jury, the right to due process of law, freedom from unlawful imprisonment and limited government under the law—can be traced to Magna Carta.

The Library’s exhibition also will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta’s first visit to the Library of Congress.  After a six-month exhibit in the British Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the document traveled to Washington, D.C.  In an official ceremony on November 28, 1939, Lord Lothian, ambassador to the United States handed Magna Carta over to Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish for safekeeping during World War II.  The Library placed the document on exhibition until the U.S. entry into the war, when the Library sent Magna Carta to Fort Knox, Kentucky.  The document returned to England in 1946.

Law Librarian of Congress David S. Mao said, "Through this exhibition we will celebrate the core tradition of the rule of law.  While aiming to detail the enduring impact of Magna Carta over 800 years, our exhibit will illuminate its influence on our legal traditions and political thought while examining the unfolding story of the rule of law throughout the world.  We look forward to taking a leading role in the American commemoration of the 800th anniversary of this legal treasure."

The exhibition curator is Nathan Dorn, rare book curator in the Law Library of Congress, and the exhibition directors are Cheryl Ann Regan and Martha Hopkins from the Library’s Interpretive Programs Office.

Additionally, the Library of Congress curated and provided materials for a facsimile traveling exhibition on Magna Carta for the American Bar Association (ABA). The exhibition opened at the 2014 ABA Annual Meeting in Boston and will travel across the United States for the next few years. In June 2015, the ABA Magna Carta Facsimile Traveling Exhibit will journey to England. For more information on ABA’s Magna Carta commemoration, visit www.facebook.com/abamagnacarta.

October 2014 DC Luncheon with Lynne Cheney

Washington, DC Lawyers Chapter October 02, 12:00 PMTony Cheng's Restaurant
619 H Street, N.W.
(Gallery Place Metro)
Washington, DC 20007
Lynne Cheney

Join us on October 2nd for the Washington, DC Lawyers Chapter Luncheon featuring Mrs. Lynne Cheney, author of James Madison: A Life Reconsidered. The cost is $15 for members of the Society and $20 for non-members. [Register now!]

Originalism and the Good Constitution - Podcast

Federalism & Separation of Powers Practice Group Podcast
Michael B. Rappaport, John O. McGinnis, Michael S. Greve March 19, 2014

Originalism and the Good Constitution

Originalism holds that the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted according to its meaning at the time it was enacted. In their innovative defense of originalism, John McGinnis and Michael Rappaport maintain that the text of the Constitution should be adhered to by the Supreme Court because it was enacted by supermajorities — both its original enactment under Article VII and subsequent Amendments under Article V. A text approved by supermajorities has special value in a democracy because it has unusually wide support and thus tends to maximize the welfare of the greatest number.

The authors recognize and respond to many possible objections. Does originalism perpetuate the dead hand of the past? How can following the original meaning be justified, given that African Americans and women were excluded from the enactment of the Constitution in 1787 and many of its subsequent Amendments? What is originalism’s place in interpretation of the Constitution, when after two hundred years there is so much non-originalist precedent?

A fascinating counterfactual they pose is this: had the Supreme Court not interpreted the Constitution so freely, perhaps the nation would have resorted to the Article V amendment process more often and with greater effect. The authors of Originalism and the Good Constitution, Prof. Michael B. Rappaport and Prof. John O. McGinnis, discussed the book along with commentary from Prof. Michael Greve on a live Teleforum conference call.

Featuring:

  • Prof. Michael S. Greve, Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law
  • Prof. Michael B. Rappaport, Darling Foundation Professor of Law, University of San Diego School of Law
  • Prof. John O. McGinnis, George C. Dix Professor in Constitutional Law, Northwestern University School of Law

[Listen now!]

The Conscience of the Constitution - Podcast

Federalism & Separation of Powers Practice Group Podcast
Timothy Sandefur, Clark Neily February 07, 2014

The Conscience Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to LibertyIs liberty or democracy the primary constitutional value? At a time when Americans are increasingly facing violations of their civil liberties, Timothy Sandefur's insightful new book explains why the Declaration of Independence, with its doctrines on the primacy of liberty, the natural rights of man, and the limits on legitimate government, should serve as the guidepost for understanding the Constitution. The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty argues that modern legal doctrines, which value democracy over liberty, are endangering individual rights and corrupting our civic institutions. Mr. Sandefur discussed his new book followed by commentary from Mr. Clark Neily of the Institute for Justice.

Featuring:

  • Timothy Sandefur, author, The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty, and Principal Attorney, National Litigation Center, Pacific Legal Foundation
  • Commentary by: Clark Neily, Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice

[Listen now!]

Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade - Podcast

Religious Liberties Practice Group Podcast
Jeffrey Rosen, Clarke Forsythe January 27, 2014

Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. WadeBased on 20 years of research, including an examination of the papers of eight of the nine Justices who voted in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, Abuse of Discretion is a critical review of the behind-the-scenes deliberations that went into the Supreme Court's abortion decisions and how the choices made by the Justices in 1971-1973 have led to the circumstances we see today in legislation, politics, and public health. National Constitution Center President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Rosen interviewed the author, Americans United for Life Senior Counsel Clarke D. Forsythe, and offered his commentary.

Featuring:

  • Clarke D. Forsythe, Senior Counsel, Americans United for Life
  • Commentary by Prof. Jeffrey Rosen, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Constitution Center

[Listen now!]