The Legalist Reformation: Law, Politics, and Ideology in New York, 1920-1980 / Edition 1

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2001-03-12 Hardcover 1 New 0807825913 Ships Within 24 Hours. Tracking Number available for all USA orders. Excellent Customer Service. Upto 15 Days 100% Money Back Gurantee. Try ... Our Fast! ! ! ! Shipping With Tracking Number. Read more Show Less

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Based on a detailed examination of New York case law, this pathbreaking book shows how law, politics, and ideology in the state changed in tandem between 1920 and 1980. Early twentieth-century New York was the scene of intense struggle between white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant upper and middle classes located primarily in the upstate region and the impoverished, mainly Jewish and Roman Catholic, immigrant underclass centered in New York City. Beginning in the 1920s, however, judges such as Benjamin N. Cardozo, Henry J. Friendly, Learned Hand, and Harlan Fiske Stone used law to facilitate the entry of the underclass into the economic and social mainstream and to promote tolerance among all New Yorkers.

Ultimately, says William Nelson, a new legal ideology was created. By the late 1930s, New Yorkers had begun to reconceptualize social conflict not along class lines but in terms of the power of majorities and the rights of minorities. In the process, they constructed a new approach to law and politics. Though doctrinal change began to slow by the 1960s, the main ambitions of the legalist reformation—liberty, equality, human dignity, and entrepreneurial opportunity—remain the aspirations of nearly all Americans, and of much of the rest of the world, today.

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Editorial Reviews

Laura Kalman
A stunning achievement. Nelson's reading of thousands of cases has enabled him to construct a fascinating picture of change over time in New York. This will be a book of great interest to legal, political, social, and economic historians.
Morton J. Horwitz
An excellent history of our most influential state legal system. A brilliant achievement.
Library Journal
Nowhere is the concept of the law as an evolving, dynamic, and progressive force in modern American society better espoused than in this seminal, exhaustive piece of legal and historical research. Nelson (law, New York Univ.) notes a number of causes for the accelerated rate with which legal practices and procedures in the state of New York evolved into a modern system that reflects progressive institutions and liberal ideologies. With historical and legal references, the author shows how reformers took control of New York's political and legal institutions and mounted a campaign to limit the exploitation of immigrants and minorities by providing opportunities for upward mobility. At the same time, the traditional moral underpinnings of the law were replaced in a wide variety of legal doctrines with a rainbow of concepts that promoted a broader sharing of society's wealth by all of its elements. Nelson illustrates the manner in which enlightened ideology can be put to work within the framework of legal and political institutions to achieve social change. One of the author's best examples is the way state court judges tilted the law, enabling upwardly mobile entrepreneurs to seize a larger slice of society's wealth. This scholarly work is highly recommended for academic and law libraries. Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Lib. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Confident and successful. . . . Ranges across decades to depict the transformation of the common law of New York in the twentieth century. . . . A major contribution to twentieth-century American legal history. It goes into extraordinary depth into New York common law across the century and considers how one influential state legal system . . . met the legal demands of religious and ethnic diversity."
Law and History Review

Nelson's vision is expansive, his research prodigious, his analysis insightful, and his achievement impressive. (Journal of American History)

Drawing on a beautifully detailed study of thousands of court opinions and life in New York, Nelson reveals how twentieth century common law jurists brought together the diverse racial, ethnic, and religious factions in the state. (Harvard Law Review)

A stunning achievement. Nelson's reading of thousands of cases has enabled him to construct a fascinating picture of change over time in New York. (Laura Kalman, University of California, Santa Barbara)

Sets a new and very high standard for studies of American legal history in the twentieth century. (American Historical Review)

Nowhere is the concept of the law as an evolving, dynamic, and progressive force in modern American society better espoused than in this seminal, exhaustive piece of legal and historical research. (Library Journal)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807825914
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/12/2001
  • Series: Studies in Legal History Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 472
  • Product dimensions: 6.47 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Meet the Author

William E. Nelson is Edward Weinfeld Professor of Law at New York University School of Law.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I Conservatives and Reformers
Ch. 1 1922 13
Ch. 2 The Conservative Agenda: Protecting Property and Preserving Morality 27
Ch. 3 The Reform Agenda: Preventing Exploitation and Providing Opportunity 63
Ch. 4 Conservatives versus Reformers: The Ongoing Juridical Conflict 93
Pt. II The Legalist Reformation
Ch. 5 1938 119
Ch. 6 Gradual Assimilation as a Constitutional Mechanism for Ending Inequality 148
Ch. 7 Gradual Assimilation as an Economic Mechanism for Ending Inequality 168
Ch. 8 The Prevention of Injury 184
Ch. 9 Liberty and Sexuality 200
Ch. 10 Liberty and the Family 222
Ch. 11 The Growth of Distrust 240
Pt. III The Endurance of Legalism and the End of Reform
Ch. 12 1968 271
Ch. 13 Gender Equity 291
Ch. 14 Equality for Underdogs: Race, Religion, Sexuality, and Poverty 310
Ch. 15 Bureaucracy 327
Ch. 16 Enterprise and Efficiency 353
Epilogue: A Golden Anniversary 369
Notes 375
Acknowledgments 443
Index 447
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