The Rhetoric of Precedent with Bernadette Meyler
November 12, 2015 at 4pm
Reception to Follow
Bernadette Meyler, the Carl & Sheila Spaeth Professor of Law at Stanford, is a scholar of British and American constitutional law and of law and the humanities at Stanford Law School. Her research and teaching bring together the sometimes surprisingly divided fields of legal history and law and literature. Professor Meyler’s two current book projects stem from these respective areas of her scholarship. Theaters of Pardoning from Shakespeare to Kant tracks changing conceptions of sovereignty within the plays and politics of seventeenth-century England. In doing so, the book considers how the shared audiences of dramatic and historical tragicomedy—whether Kings, students at the Inns of Court, or potential jurors—brought concepts from the literary into the legal arena and back again. Common Law Originalism shifts to the American context, looking at the multiple eighteenth-century common law meanings—both colonial and English—of various constitutional terms and phrases. Based on this variety, as well as on the practices of common law interpretation with which members of the Founding generation were familiar, the book argues that we should, in large part, reject the pursuit of a singular and determinate original meaning. Instead, Meyler contends, we must embrace a more vigorous debate in the present over contested constitutional meanings.
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