Lawprofs and historians
SLevinson at MAIL.LAW.UTEXAS.EDU
Mon Jan 15 10:30:15 PST 2001
>I think the very fact that historians recognize the ambiguity of some
>documentary records (and even thrive on it) is what makes it sometimes
>difficult for scholars in the two fields to communicate.
I find this a curious argument, because if any profession is trained "to
recognize the ambiguity" of practically any text, it would be lawyers, and
contemporary law professors, imbued with one or another variety of legal
realism or critical legal studies, are especially likely to discount
appeals to plain meanings of texts (or anything else).
One difference between the two fields is that
>lawyers often take the facts of a case as stated in the record to be
>when in fact the records are often wrong, sometimes intentionally so.
>"stipulate" to incorrect facts to get a legal issue before a court;
>want to understand the context of the case.
I think that relatively few law professors believe there is necessarily a
significant relationship between the "facts" as asserted in a legal
opinion and "reality." After all, the first opinion that most law
professors begin with, Marbury, requires that students learn that they
cannot possibly understand the facts of the case from reading the opinion.
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