The Law's Conscience: Equitable Constitutionalism in America

The Law's Conscience: Equitable Constitutionalism in America

by Peter Charles Hoffer


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The Law's Conscience: Equitable Constitutionalism in America by Peter Charles Hoffer

The Law's Conscience is a history of equity in Anglo-American juris-prudence from the inception of the chancellor's court in medieval England to the recent civil rights and affirmative action decisions of the United States Supreme Court. Peter Hoffer argues that equity embodies a way of looking at law, including constitutions, based on ideas of mutual fairness, public trusteeship, and equal protection. His central theme is the tension between the ideal of equity and the actual availability of equitable remedies.

Hoffer examines this tension in the trusteeship constitutionalism of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson; the incorporation of equity in the first American constitutions; the antebellum controversy over slavery; the fortunes of the Freedmen's Bureau after the Civil War; the emergence of the doctrine of "Balance of Equity" in twentieth-century public-interest law; and the desegregation and reverse discrimination cases of the past thirty-five years. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was the most important equity suit in American history, and Hoffer begins and ends his book with a new interpretation of its lessons.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807842942
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 11/01/1990
Series: Thornton H. Brooks Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 316
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Peter Charles Hoffer is coauthor of Impeachment in America, 1635-1805.

Table of Contents

Prologue. Brown v. Board of Education, 19541
1.What Is Equity?7
Part 1Trusteeship23
2.The Trust and Ends of Government25
3.Their Trustees and Servants47
Part 2Equality81
4.In Law and Equity85
5.Equal Protection107
Part 3Reality139
6.Balance of Equity147
7.Brown II and Its Progeny180
Epilogue. Balance of Equity and Affirmative Action199
A Note on the Sources215

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A thought-provoking trip through an important dimension of legal history.—Perspectives on Political Science

This book is written with force and style, qualities that wonderfully complement its bold, original argument. Hoffer has crafted a major contribution to the history of American legal culture.—Kermit L. Hall, University of Florida

Highly informing and indeed moving account of the development of the concept of equity in U.S. constitutional law.—Choice

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