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

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Overview

Based on a detailed examination of New York case law, this book shows how law, politics, and ideology in the state changed in tandem between 1920 and 1980, as state court judges used law to facilitate the entry of the underclass into the economic and social mainstream and to promote tolerance.
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Editorial Reviews

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)

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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807855041
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 9/29/2003
  • Series: Studies in Legal History
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 472
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 1.10 (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

Part I. Conservatives and Reformers
Chapter 1. 1922
Chapter 2. The Conservative Agenda: Protecting Property and Preserving Morality
Chapter 3. The Reform Agenda: Preventing Exploitation and Providing Opportunity
Chapter 4. Conservatives versus Reformers: The Ongoing Juridical Conflict

Part II. The Legalist Reformation
Chapter 5. 1938
Chapter 6. Gradual Assimilation as a Constitutional Mechanism for Ending Inequality
Chapter 7. Gradual Assimilation as an Economic Mechanism for Ending Inequality
Chapter 8. The Prevention of Injury
Chapter 9. Liberty and Sexuality
Chapter 10. Liberty and the Family
Chapter 11. The Growth of Distrust

Part III. The Endurance of Legalism and the End of Reform
Chapter 12. 1968
Chapter 13. Gender Equity
Chapter 14. Equality for Underdogs: Race, Religion, Sexuality, and Poverty
Chapter 15. Bureaucracy
Chapter 16. Enterprise and Efficiency

Epilogue: A Golden Anniversary
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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