British Journal of American Legal Studies


The British Journal of American Legal Studies is a scholarly journal which publishes articles of interest to the Anglo-American legal community. Submissions are invited from academics and practitioners on both sides of the Atlantic on all aspects of constitutional law having relevance to the United States, including human rights, legal and political theory, socio-legal studies and legal history. International, comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives are particularly welcome. All submissions will be peer-refereed through anonymous referee processes.

Latest documents

  • Marital Cakes and Conscientious Promises
  • Rule by the Few in the Federalist Papers: An Examination of the Aristocratic Preference of Publius

    The Federalist Papers are a set of eighty-five essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay during the founding era of the United States, with the purpose of persuading the states to adopt the Constitution as the replacement for the Articles of Confederation. The Papers were some of the most impressive political writings of the time, and are still cited frequently today by the United States Supreme Court. The arguments set forth in the Papers attempted to defend the Constitution’s aristocratic characteristics against its opponents, the Anti-Federalists, while also attempting to normalize an anti-democratic, representative form of government in the minds of the American people. The clever advocacy and skillful rhetoric employed by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay led to the eventual ratification of the Constitution, and consequently the creation of the most powerful and prosperous nation on the planet. This paper examines the differences between the traditional forms of government, the political philosophies of the Papers’ authors, the anti-democratic, aristocratic nature of the government proposed by the Constitution, and the arguments for and against its adoption, as articulated in the Papers and various other writings.

  • U.S.-UK FTA Negotiations: A Primer on Labor Agenda
  • Prison Ships
  • To Delegate or Redelegate: Is That the Question?

    Conflicts between those supporting and opposing congressional redelegation to executive agencies go back to the earliest days of the Republic, but given the enormous development of the administrative state, now raise issues of great practical importance. The arguments back and forth implicate abstract notions of democracy, efficiency, and judicial power, though typically partisan and other self interested considerations actually drive the debate. The future is likely to see some retrenchment, but not wholesale rejection of redelegation, as the massive and unpredictable consequences would deter courts from acting

  • Law as a Language, Law as an Art: Reflections on James Boyd White's Keep Law Alive

    Keep Law Alive, the latest book by law and literature scholar James Boyd White, is an important apologia for the traditional understanding and practice of law in the United States. Law, White argues, has served as a language in a sense closely parallel to what we mean by referring to English or Spanish as a language: law provides those fluent in it with the tools to describe the social world and to imagine its transformation, but without scripting what the speaker must say. White also envisions law as an art that evokes imagination, emotion and personal judgment, as well as the mind, and that is fundamentally oriented toward the realization of justice. Intellectual, social and political changes, however, threaten to displace law as a language and art with a view of law as an essentially empty rhetoric that cloaks the use of abstract and impersonal reasoning often borrowed from other disciplines. The survival of law depends on the willingness of those who speak it to continue its practice as an art that serves a humane vision of political life.

  • Justice Holmes and the Question of Race

    Notwithstanding his youthful dalliance with abolitionism, Holmes’ votes and opinions in Supreme Court cases involving race reveal a stubborn indifference to discrimination on a range of issues. Whether this reflects a cold personal aloofness, a preoccupation with life as struggle, a commitment to judicial restraint or merely an insensitivity pervading the enlightened opinion of the day, his performance will continue to stain his reputation.

  • Administrative Functions of Implementation, Control of Administrative Decisions, and Protection of Rights
  • The Engineers Case Centenary: SCOTUS and the Origins of Australia's Scabrous Constitutional Signature

    Since the Engineers Case decision in 1920, the role of the United States Constitution in interpreting the Australian Constitution has been diminished, leading to inefficiencies in High Court of Australia (HCA) dealing with constitutional issues. To explain this thesis, the article looks at the 7,657 cases decided by the HCA, from the first case in 1903, to the 31st of August 2020, the centenary of the Engineers Case. The analysis identifies outliers that have much higher complexity (in terms of wordlength) than the other judgments. This complexity has one common denominator: comparative analysis with the United States Constitution. The article explains why this common denominator has resulted in such complexity, and concludes with possible research extensions on the roles of the Australian judiciary in embracing SCOTUS jurisprudence when interpreting the Australian Constitution.

  • Apportionment, Allegiance, and Birthright Citizenship

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