Legal History

The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance!

I am very happy to announce that my project of collecting odd laws, which I creatively referred to as "The Odd Law Project," has now become (or I guess is about to become) my first book: Obviously I changed the…


Senate Votes to Limit the Filibuster

In a move that there is absolutely no chance they will ever regret making, Senate Democrats today managed to push through a rule change that now makes it impossible to filibuster cabinet and judicial nominations (except for seats on the…


U.S. Pat. No. 35,600: The Plow Cannon

This might be where the term "Yankee ingenuity" came from, although if it was, somebody was being sarcastic: Two New Yorkers invented this and had it patented in 1862. At the time, the battles of First Bull Run and Shiloh…


Women Can’t Vote in Sistersville

Actually, they can, but only because of the 19th Amendment, which was ratified in 1920. If it were up to the city charter, which was enacted 21 years before that and is still in effect, only men would be allowed…


And No Warrants Shall Issue, Unless the King Says So

In what is surely an incredible coincidence, the partner of the reporter (Glenn Greenwald) who has been embarrassing the NSA over the past few weeks was just detained at Heathrow airport under the Terrorism Act, held for nine hours, questioned…




More Fun With Jeremy Bentham

Present but not voting Of course, no reference to Jeremy Bentham would be complete without mentioning that his badly preserved corpse is still on display at University College, London. Bentham did not attend UCL but became affiliated with it in…


The Day Justice Douglas Threw a Book Out the Window

From the book In Chambers: Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks and Their Justices, noted by Andrew Cohen in The Atlantic : Law clerks in this era all learned that none of [Justice William O.] Douglas' rules were ever to be ignored….