The Mob Lawyer’s Constitution

by Sara Mayeux

In investigating constitutional history, legal scholars often focus on elite legal actors and Supreme Court doctrine. This article draws upon pop-culture sources to reconstruct the constitutional rhetoric of mob lawyers, drug lawyers, and other icons of the high-priced criminal defense bar, from the 1970s through the 1990s—the heyday of federal organized crime prosecutions and thus, of the lawyers who defended against them.

Thomas Burke and State Sovereignty, 1777

by Aaron N. Coleman and Adam L. Tate

By exploring the context of Thomas Burke’s words and actions in 1777 to understand better his call for what became Article II of the Articles of Confederation, this article challenges long-held scholarly opinions, allowing Burke to emerge as an important theorist of federalism, rather than a neglected or dismissed member of the American founding.

The International Law Origins of Compact Theory: A Critique of Bellia & Clark on Federalism

by David S. Schwartz

The thesis in “The International Law Origins of American Federalism” is mistaken: the Framers consistently and systematically rejected an international law conception of federalism. While Bellia & Clark’s article could offer a serviceable origin story for compact theory, it fails as an origin story for American federalism.

Federalism, The Law of Nations, and The Excluded Middle

by Ryan C. Williams

This essay seeks to steer a middle path between the extremes of “The International Law Origins of American Federalism” and Professor David Schwartz’s response piece; while the Constitution of 1787 reflected a clear break with the “pure” treaty model, law-of-nations principles might usefully guide and inform modern under-standings of federalism—at least to some degree.

The Executive Branch and the Origins of Judicial Independence

by Kevin Arlyck

Most accounts of the federal judiciary’s rise to independence tell a story in which the courts consolidated their authority—especially the power of judicial review—by tacitly agreeing to withdraw from partisan politics. But as this article shows, the most insistent assertions of judicial inviolability came not from courts, but instead from the executive branch officials.

Strategic Ambiguity and Article VII: Why the Framers Decided Not to Decide

by Roderick M. Hills, Jr.

By reducing the power of the Federalist agenda-setters to force through specific constitutional language with a reversion threat, the presumption of ambiguity respects contemporary norms of fair dealing, thereby advancing the goal of popular sovereignty with which Federalists defended the Constitution’s legitimacy.