Every student must do a
These papers should be 8-12 pages in length, and must deal
one of the three general topics below. In each case, I will
to pair you with another student who will be doing a parallel but
distinct aspect of the same topic, and you will be encouraged to work
with that student in developing your paper (although the final draft
must be your own). The paper will go through the stages, each
with a specific "due date," listed below; the first "due date" will be
the selection of a paper topic by
Schedule of Assignment
Dates for Paper:
Class 5 (Feb. 2nd): Have selected a tropic (one of the three below) and
specified the (A) state ratification debate, (B) issue in New Jersey
law, or (C) Supreme Court case you wish to research. .
Class 11 (Feb. 23rd): Provide one-page photocopy of
document in ratification debate; (B) first-page of decision by New
Jersey appellate court or from state with which you are comparing New
Jersey; (C) brief from one side of the Supreme Court case.
Class 20 (April 1st): Turn in a one-page statement that
summarizes the argument on both sides of the issue or case.
the documents you are using on both sides of the debate or case.
You, or you and your partner, may be called upon to discuss
the class what you have uncovered. This will be graded
and completeness and count 20% of the final paper grade. If
comes in late, it will be marked down one letter grade. Those
doing the moot court debate that day will have an additional class
period to complete this part of the assignment.
Class 24 (April 15th): Provide a rough draft of the paper of
than five pages long. The introduction should explain why the
issue or case was important. The body of the paper
should explain the arguments made by both sides; and the conclusion
explain why you believe the arguments were more
persuasive on one side than the other, and how the historical period in
which the issue/case arose may have affected the outcome..
Class 26 (April 22nd): Analysis returned; students edit before
Class 28 (April 29th): Submit final paper, can be up to 8-12 pages but
(A) Topic One: Debates over the Ratification of the
After the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 concluded, the
drafted Constitution was sent to the thirteen states for ratification
by conventions of "the people" in each state. In most states,
there was a vigorous political debate between the supporters of
ratification (the Federalists) and those opposed or who wanted
amendments (anti-Federalists). Debate was carried on
in newspaper essays and correspondence, then in the ratification
conventions themselves. Paired with a second student, your
should explore the arguments and language used by the proponents and
opponents of ratification. You can split the analysis between
proponents and opponents, or each paper can look at those on both sides
as they spoke on different issues (for example, the need for a bill of
rights, the nature of representation, the fear of executive tyranny,
The Library owns the multi-volume Documentary History of the
Ratification of the Constitution
edited by Merrill Jensen, et al., 1976- . The call
is KF4502.D63, followed by a volume number. Most of these
deal with ratification debates in individual states, and among the
states covered to date (this in an on-going project) are Pennsylvania
(vol. 2); Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut (vol. 3);
Massachusetts (vol. 4-7); Virginia (vol. 8-10);
York (vol. 19-23). The remaining state volumes have not yet
published. The Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts,
Virginia, and New York collections are ideally suited for a paper.
The records are lengthy, but well indexed so you can focus
differences of opinion relatively easily. The study need not
exhaustive, but it needs to use multiple sources to clarify what was at
stake in the debate, and the political terminology people at
used to address the issues. (These are issues we will fully
carefully discuss ias we reenact the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, so
you should be well grounded in the issues and language before you begin
to investigate the state debate.)
(B) Topic Two: New Jersey State Law.
In the 19th century, state appellate courts handed down most
the important legal decisions. These decisions applied
English common law to the conditions of a new country, now no longer
tied directly to Great Britain. The most significant
generally dealt with economic issues, as judges sought to shape and
respond to the rapidly changing commercial economy of the early 19th
century, but there were also changes in criminal law, laws governing
the family, and other areas of the law.
In your paper, you and one other student
compare a major state law opinion(s) from New Jersey with a
similar opinion(s) from another state in the period from the 1780s to
1860. You may each take a different state (New Jersey and a
second state of your choice), or you may each take a separate issue and
compare the two states treatment of that issue.
Appellate court opinions (as well as law journal
from the past, and many other legal sources) are available through the Westlaw
This database can be accessed through the Rutgers Library
webpage by following these steps::
1. Go to the Rutgers Library website:
If not at a
campus terminal, you can
log in at the upper left corner of the screen by following the link.
You must do this to use the database below.
2. Point at "Find Articles" on
the right, and then select "Indexes and Databases" link.
3. Click on the "W" from the alphabetical list at
bottom on the screen, and then click on "Westlaw Campus Research"
4. Click on "Connect" (You'll only be
able to do this if you are at a campus terminal or have logged in.)
5. Click on "Law" on the bar slightly below
the top of the page.
6. You can now do a search. Try putting
in some key
words in the search spaces. Under "Dates," use the drop down
menu, pick "between," and enter two years to limit your search (for
example, 1790 and 1820, or 1820 and 1860); and from "Cases," check
(click) "State Cases" and from the drop-down menu, select "New Jersey."
You can obviously modify these as you begin to focus in on a
good subject for comparison.
Possible topics: (search words):
apprenticeship, counterfeit, divorce, fornication, fraud, insanity,
insolvent debtor, manumission, mill dam, murder, negligence, slave(s),
treason, waste, water course
before the Early Supreme Court
Before a case is argued at the appellate level, lawyers
customarily submitted "briefs" to the court outlining the arguments
that would be made. These briefs, plus the majority and
dissenting opinions (if any), can be used to examine the constitutional
and policy issues in a case. Your paper should explore the
in the case, the arguments made on both sides of the case, how the
court resolved the issues, and what the consequences of the decisions
were or were presumed to be for society more generally. The
must be one that we haven't discussed in the class.
The cases themselves can be found
above. The briefs, if not in Westlaw, are in the published
volumes of the Landmark Briefs
series in the
government documents section of Alexander Library. You'll
about 200 volumes of briefs (in red binding) in Stack 28 of the
Government Documents area on the 1st
floor of Alexander Library. The volumes are arranged
chronologically. The most likely cases include:
Ware v. Hylton (1796)
Osborn v. Bank of the United States (1824)
Brown v. Maryland (1827)
Shanks v. Dupont (1830) - no briefs, but a dissenting opinion.
Swift v. Tyson (1842)
West River Bridge Co. v. Dix (1848)
Luther v. Borden (1849)
Murray's Lessee v. Hoboken (1856)