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The Erickson Legal History Lecture Series

 

The Ronald A. and Kristine S. Erickson Legal History Lecture Series is named for Ronald A. Erickson ('60) and Kristine S. Erickson ('72), who have been strong philanthropic supporters of the Law School's Legal History Program.

 

2013-14 Erickson Legal History Lecture

 

April 3, 2014
3:30 p.m., Room 30
Event #186957 has been approved for one CLE credit
RSVP to lawevent@umn.edu

Cynthia Brilliant Herrup
John R. Hubbard Chair in British History and Professor of History and Law, University of Southern California

"The Problem with Pardons"

At the end of every presidency and many governorships, Americans fuss about pardons. Was it right for Bill Clinton to pardon financier Marc Rich in 2001? Should George Ryan have used pardons to clear Illinois' Death Row in 2003? More often than not, we see pardons as signs of unfair treatment, special privilege, and even legal ineptness. It is much easier to name scandals caused by pardons than injustices righted by them. But why? Pardons are meant to do good—to evoke charity and mercy, and to provide a necessary remedy to the sometimes too harsh rationality of the law. Our critiques of pardoning usually concentrate on the specifics of who gives pardons, who gets pardons, and how and why. In this lecture, Herrup will focus on fundamentals: is the problem with pardons intrinsic to the concept of pardoning itself? By looking at the history of pardons in the tumultuous world of 17th-century England, we can rethink why we have pardons and what we can reasonably expect from them.


2012-13 Erickson Legal History Lecture

 

October 25, 2012
4:00 p.m. Lockhart Hall (Room 25)
Event #171529 approved for one CLE credit.

Nancy Cott
Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History, Harvard University, and Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

"Marriage in the Courts"

Opponents of marriage rights for couples of the same sex assert that “marriage” has always meant the same thing since time immemorial. But history shows that marriage in the United States – a civil institution regulated by the individual states – has been altered repeatedly by courts and legislatures, responding to changes in family lives and work roles. What are the stakes in making a historical case for marriage rights for same-sex couples? “Marriage in the Courts” addresses that question based on Professor Cott’s experience testifying and writing declarations, amicus briefs, and expert reports in marriage equality lawsuits in several states and constitutional cases in the federal courts, including Perry v. Schwarzenegger in California and several cases arguing the unconstitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.


2011-12 Erickson Legal History Lecture

 

March 7, 2012
3:30 p.m. Room 50
Event #162118 approved for one CLE credit.

Lauren Benton
Professor of History
New York University School of Law

"The Trial of Arthur Hodge: Petty Despots and the Making of an Imperial Legal World"

In April, 1811, a wealthy planter named Arthur Hodge was tried, convicted, and hanged for the murder of a slave on the island of Tortola. Often appearing as a footnote in the history of abolition or treated as a minor incident in colonial criminal law, the trial and its context illuminate broader legal trends. Conflicts over the exercise of local authority were prompting calls to contain "petty despotism" in subordinate jurisdictions across the British empire. Interimperial wars were highlighting the role of prize courts within the Atlantic world and placing strains on elite access to colonial sinecures – trends that urged new interest in imperial legal hierarchies. Together such practices transformed the early nineteenth century into a distinctive legal period. The hallmark of the age was not, as some scholars have suggested, a pivot from natural to positive international law, a new kind of human rights law forged by abolitionists, or the legal consequences of a wave of anti-imperial revolutions. In responding to the Hodge trial and other similar events, diverse sets of legal actors in European capitals and remote colonies joined in elaborating a vision of imperial law as a uniquely effective framework for local, regional, and global order.


2010-11 Erickson Legal History Lecture

 

March 30, 2011
3:30 p.m. Room 50
Reception 5 p.m., Lindquist & Vennum Conference Room
Event #153577 approved for one CLE credit.

Michael Grossberg
Sally M. Reahard Professor of History & Professor of Law
Director, Political and Civic Engagement Program
Indiana University

"The Politics of Childhood: Law and Child Protection in Modern America"

Since the 1870s fears about the physical and moral well-being of American children have led to recurrent campaigns to protect them. Those policies of protection began with the creation of the first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 1874 and continue into our time with the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 1984, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990, Amber Alerts and Meagan’s Laws in the 1990s, the Children's Internet Protection Act of 2000, and current clashes over sex-texting and cyber-bullying. I will argue that these wide-ranging policies of child protection are a particularly revealing way of understanding the changing place of children in American society and in the development of modern American law and social policy. By chronicling the politics of childhood since the late 19th century, I also explain why child protection became a vital way for Americans to express their most fundamental hopes and fears about their children and, through them, about the republic itself.


2009-10 Erickson Legal History Lecture

 

March 10, 2010
3:30 p.m. Room 50
Reception 5 p.m., Lindquist & Vennum Conference Room

Sarah Barringer Gordon
Arlin M Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and Professor of History
University of Pennsylvania

"The Spirit of the Law: Religion and the Constitution in Modern America"

A new constitutional world burst into American life in the mid-twentieth century. For the first time, the national constitution's religion clauses were extended by the United States Supreme Court to all state and local governments. As energized religious individuals and groups probed the new boundaries between religion and government and claimed their sacred rights in court, a complex and evolving landscape of religion and law emerged. Passionate believers turned to the law and the courts to facilitate a dazzling diversity of spiritual practice. Legal decisions revealed the exquisite difficulty of gauging where religion ends and government begins. Controversies over school prayer, public funding, religion in prison, and same-sex marriage roiled long-standing assumptions about religion in public life.

Professor Gordon's faculty profile is available at http://www.law.upenn.edu/cf/faculty/sgordon/.


2008-09 Erickson Legal History Lecture

 

April 20, 2009
4 p.m., Room 50
Reception 5 p.m., Lindquist & Vennum Conference Room
RSVP Kristen Gandrow (615) 626-5048

"Individual Conscience in European Legal History, 1200-1650"

Richard Helmholz,
Ruth Wyatt Rosenson Distinguished Service Professor of Law
University of Chicago

Professor Helmholz is a past president of the American Society for Legal History and an expert on the history of canon law in England. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a corresponding fellow of the British Academy.

Professor Helmholz's bio is available at http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/helmholz

 

2007-08 Erickson Legal History Lecture

 

April 18, 2008

"Statelessness in America"

Linda K. Kerber
May Brodbeck Professor in the Liberal Arts & Sciences
University of Iowa

Kerber is the May Brodbeck Professor in the Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Iowa, and is a lecturer in the College of Law, where she teaches courses in Gender and Legal History. In 2006-07, she was the Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University.

Professor Kerber's bio is available at http://www.uiowa.edu/~history/People/kerber.htm

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