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Monday, May 8, 2017

Why More Historians Are Embracing the Amicus Brief

Nell Gluckman at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

"'Lawyers really need to deal in simple either-ors; yes or no,' said Linda Gordon, a history professor at New York University who has written amicus briefs for abortion-rights cases that have made their way to the Supreme Court. 'We as historians frequently have to come up with perspectives that are much more nuanced.'

"For example, the absence of a law specifically prohibiting abortion in the 18th century wouldn’t necessarily mean everyone was in favor of abortion access at that time. But acknowledging that ambiguity would not help Ms. Gordon’s case.

"'When I am teaching graduate students, I always tell them that if they are discussing a person or policy they disagree with, it’s their responsibility to present both sides of an issue fairly,' she said. 'That is completely opposite from what is done in the law."

(via Josh Blackman)

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