August 19, 2008


Epstein, Richard A., & Michael S. Greve, eds., Federal Preemption: State’s Powers, National Interests (New York: The AEI Press, 2007).

Kaplow, Louis, The Theory of Taxation and Public Economics (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2008) (Without question, Professor Kaplow is among the best bright lights of legal academia.).

Purcell, Edward A., Jr., Litigation and Inequality: Federal Diversity Jurisdiction in Industrial America, 1870-1958 (New York & Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 1992) (“A basic argument of the book is that the strategic uses and social significance of jurisdictional and procedural rules shift over time as a result of changes in the characteristics of the adversarial parties, relevant legal rules and institutions, and prevailing social, economic, and political conditions. Thus, the book argues that however much certain issues may constitute ‘perennial’ or ‘classical’ problems of jurisdiction and procedure, however much they may be constantly present or regularly recurring as formal legal issues, their social meaning and practical import may differ substantially at different times and places. The social significance of ;technical’ procedural and jurisdictional rules, in other words, is as historically contingent as is any other aspect of law or society.” Id. at vii. This is a very good synthesis of federal diversity jurisdiction litigation though, some might charge—and not improperly--, that it is a bit skewed to the political left.).

Purcell, Edward A., Jr., Originalism, Federalism, and the American Enterprise: A Historical Inquiry (New Haven & London: Yale U. Press, 2007) (This is a worthwhile read, as it synthesizes nearly 220 years of debate on the meaning, nature, merit, and even the existence of federalism. “This historical inquiry…advances only one primary claim and three principal corollaries. Most fundamentally, it argues that the nation’s federal structure was from its beginning characterized by four inherent qualities: it was doubly blurred, fractionated, instrumental, and contingent. From that premise, the inquiry draws three major conclusions. The first is that those characteristics made the federal structure flexible and its working system of government inherently elastic, dynamic, and underdetermined. As a consequence, the operative lines of the federal system were consistently contested and necessarily malleable. The second conclusion is that no authentic ‘original’ authority exists—neither of text of the Constitution nor any intent or understanding of the founders—that is capable of providing specifically directive norms for the ‘correct’ operation of the federal structure. The third is that, even had some such ‘original’ authority actually prescribed a ‘true’ or ‘correct’ federal system, the structure’s four inherent characteristics would have made it impossible for Americans to maintain that system unchanged over time.” Id. at 190-191. Part of the contest over federalism, and why it has been so heated, pertains to race in America. “It seems fair to say that the history of American federalism could not possibly be understood without recognizing the omnipresent and compelling racial considerations that pervasively shaped its course.” Id. at 65. Again, this is a worthwhile read, and should be on the suggested reading (if not required reading) list of all students taking Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Federal Courts/Jurisdiction, State and Local Government and related courses. If one reads notes at the back of the book (which one should do), one will encounter citations to many of the cases, law review articles, treatises and books which a well-educated law graduate would have read.).

Rabuskhka, Alvin, Taxation in Colonial America (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2008) (“[T]his book describes and analyzes taxation in the thirteen original American colonies from Jamestown to the beginning of the American Revolution, the midnight ride of Paul Revere on April 18, 1775. This book covers external taxes imposed by the three founding nations of England, the Netherlands, and Sweden on their respective colonies; locally levied provincial direct taxes on polls, a head tax, property, and income; locally enacted duties, excises, and tonnage on trade and consumption; county, town, church, and education taxes; and other miscellaneous charges.” Id. at xvii.).