Year in Review

A Year in Review: Iowa Law Faculty Books

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Over the past year, Iowa Law faculty members have published well received books, garnering the attention of The New York Times Review of Books, The New Yorker, and Smithsonian Magazine, among others. 

The Case for an International Court of Civil Justice by Maya Steinitz, Professor and Bouma Family Fellow in Law (December 2018, Cambridge University Press)

From the publisher’s website:

When multinational corporations cause mass harms to lives, livelihoods, and the environment in developing countries, it is nearly impossible for victims to find a court that can and will issue an enforceable judgment. In this work, Professor Maya Steinitz presents a detailed rationale for the creation of an International Court of Civil Justice (ICCJ) to hear such transnational mass tort cases. The world's legal systems were not designed to solve these kinds of complex transnational disputes, and the absence of mechanisms to ensure coordination means that victims try, but fail, to find justice in country after country, court after court. The Case for an International Court of Civil Justice explains how an ICCJ would provide victims with access to justice and corporate defendants with a non-corrupt forum and an end to the cost and uncertainty of unending litigation—more efficiently resolving the most complicated types of civil litigation.

Loyola Law School Professor Cesare Romano called the book “brilliant” and “visionary.” The International Institute for Sustainable Development and the British Institute of International and Comparative Law each held panels focused on Professor Steinitz’s book. Professor Steinitz also gave a lecture on the book as part of the Max Planck Lecture Series.

The Cambridge Handbook of Social Enterprise Law edited by Joseph W. Yockey, Professor and Michael and Brenda Sandler Faculty Fellow in Corporate Law, and Benjamin Means, University of South Carolina Professor of Law (January 2019, Cambridge University Press)

From the publisher’s website:

Growing numbers of employees, consumers, and investors want companies to be truly good; these stakeholders will accept lower economic returns in order to support companies that prioritize sustainability, fair wages, and fair trade. Unlike charities or non-profit organizations, such companies—or social enterprises—are not only permitted but also expected to produce an economic return for investors. Yet, unlike traditional business ventures, social enterprises have no obligation to maximize profits, even on a long-term basis. In this comprehensive volume, Benjamin Means and Joseph W. Yockey bring together leading legal scholars and practitioners to offer an authoritative guide to social enterprise law and policy. The Cambridge Handbook of Social Enterprise Law takes stock of the field and charts a course for its future development. It should be read by entrepreneurs, investors, practitioners, academics, students and anyone else interested in how companies are evolving to address new demands for capitalism with a conscience.

Former Delaware Supreme Court Justice Randy J. Holland called the book “a superb collection of articles that thoughtfully examine the efforts of the social-enterprise movement to balance the interests of investors, other stakeholders and society” and “a valuable resource for decision makers and others who want to understand each of the competing perspectives.”

The Right to Do Wrong: Morality and the Limits of Law by Mark J. Osiel, Aliber Family Chair in Law (February 2019, Harvard University Press)

From the publisher’s website:

Much of what we could do, we shouldn’t—and we don’t. We have a free-speech right to be offensive, but we know we will face outrage in response. We may declare bankruptcy, but not without stigma. Moral norms constantly demand more of us than the law requires, sustaining promises we can legally break and preventing disrespectful behavior the law allows.

Mark Osiel takes up this curious interplay between lenient law and restrictive morality, showing that law permits much wrongdoing because we assume that rights are paired with informal but enforceable duties. People will exercise their rights responsibly or else face social shaming. For the most part, this system has worked. Social order persists despite ample opportunity for reprehensible conduct, testifying to the decisive constraints common morality imposes on the way we exercise our legal prerogatives. The Right to Do Wrong collects vivid case studies and social scientific research to explore how resistance to the exercise of rights picks up where law leaves off and shapes the legal system in turn. Building on recent evidence that declining social trust leads to increasing reliance on law, Osiel contends that as social changes produce stronger assertions of individual rights, it becomes more difficult to depend on informal tempering of our unfettered freedoms.

Social norms can be indefensible, Osiel recognizes. But the alternative—more repressive law—is often far worse. This empirically informed study leaves little doubt that robust forms of common morality persist and are essential to the vitality of liberal societies.

According to Harvard Law Review, “In thorough fashion, The Right to Do Wrong takes no assumptions for granted, offering readers a peek behind the curtain at the frameworks underpinning morality and law.” Reviews of The Right to Do Wrong have appeared in The New York Times Review of Books and the Law Society Gazette. Professor Osiel is also the author of The End of Reciprocity: Terror, Torture, and the Law; Making Sense of Mass Atrocity; Mass Atrocity, Ordinary Evil, and Hannah Arendt: Criminal Consciousness in Argentina’s Dirty War; Obeying Orders: Atrocity, Military Discipline, and the Law of War; and Mass Atrocity, Collective Memory, and the Law.

Whiggish International Law: Elihu Root, the Monroe Doctrine, and International Law in the Americas by Christopher R. Rossi, Executive Director of Humanities Iowa and College of Law Adjunct Faculty Member (March 2019, Brill)

From the publisher’s website:

International law’s turn to history in the Americas receives invigorated refreshment with Christopher Rossi’s adaptation of the insightful and inter-disciplinary teachings of the English School and Cambridge contextualists to problems of hemispheric methodology and historiography. Rossi sheds new light on abridgments of history and the propensity to construct and legitimize whiggish understandings of international law based on simplified tropes of liberal and postcolonial treatments of the Monroe Doctrine. Central to his story is the retelling of the Monroe Doctrine by its supreme early twentieth century interlocutor, Elihu Root and other like-minded internationalists. Rossi’s revival of whiggish international law cautions against the contemporary tendency to re-read history with both eyes cast on the ideological present as a justification for misperceived historical sequencing.

Professor Rossi’s research for the book included consulting not only the vast collection of the University of Iowa Law Library, but also sixteenth and seventeenth century works from Associate Dean for Research Emeritus Arthur Bonfield’s extensive personal library. Professor Rossi is also the author of Sovereignty and Territorial Temptation; Broken Chain of Being, James Brown Scott and the Origins of Modern International Law; and Equity and International Law.

Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom by Sarah A. Seo, Associate Professor of Law (April 2019, Harvard University Press)

From the publisher’s website:

When Americans think of freedom, they often picture the open road. Yet nowhere are we more likely to encounter the long arm of the law than in our cars. Sarah Seo reveals how the rise of the automobile led us to accept—and expect—pervasive police power. As Policing the Open Road makes clear, this radical transformation in the nature and meaning of American freedom has had far-reaching political and legal consequences.

Before the twentieth century, most Americans rarely came into contact with police officers. But with more and more drivers behind the wheel, police departments rapidly expanded their forces and increased officers’ authority to stop citizens who violated traffic laws. The Fourth Amendment—the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures—did not effectively shield individuals from government intrusion while driving. Instead, jurists interpreted the amendment narrowly. In a society dependent on cars, everyone—the law-breaking and law-abiding alike—would be subject to discretionary policing.

Seo overturns prevailing interpretations of the Warren Court’s due process revolution. The justices’ efforts to protect Americans did more to accommodate than to limit police intervention, and the new criminal procedures inadvertently sanctioned discrimination by officers of the law. Constitutional challenges to traffic stops largely failed, and motorists “driving while black” had little recourse to question police demands. Seo shows how procedures designed to safeguard us on the road ultimately undermined the nation’s commitment to equal protection before the law.

Named one of the ten best history books of 2019 by Smithsonian Magazine, Policing the Open Road was released to high praise. Hua Hsu of The New Yorker found Policing the Open Road a “fascinating examination of how the automobile reconfigured American life.” Nathan Heller, also of The New Yorkercalled the book “remarkable.” Professor Emily Prifogle, who reviewed the book for The New Rambler, called Policing the Open Road “a beautifully written book that moves seamlessly from doctrinal analysis to exploration of themes in popular culture.”