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October 10, 2014 12:31 PM PDT

John Bessler, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law and adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, joins ConSource Executive Director Julie Silverbrook to discuss his new book about Cesare Beccaria, "The Birth of American Law: An Italian Philosopher and the American Revolution."

The Birth of American Law: An Italian Philosopher and the American Revolution tells the forgotten, untold story of the origins of U.S. law. Before the Revolutionary War, a 26-year-old Italian thinker, Cesare Beccaria, published On Crimes and Punishments, a runaway bestseller that shaped the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and early American laws. America’s Founding Fathers, including early U.S. Presidents, avidly read Beccaria’s book—a product of the Italian Enlightenment that argued against tyranny and the death penalty. Beccaria’s book shaped American views on everything from free speech to republicanism, to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” to gun ownership and the founders’ understanding of “cruel and unusual punishments,” the famous phrase in the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment. In opposing torture and infamy, Beccaria inspired America’s founders to jettison England’s Bloody Code, heavily reliant on executions and corporal punishments, and to adopt the penitentiary system.

Available for purchase at: http://www.cap-press.com/books/isbn/9781611636048/The-Birth-of-American-Law#

Read a short piece on Professor Bessler's book here (at pg. 34): http://issuu.com/ubaltlaw/docs/baltimore_law__fall_2014

May 15, 2014 10:55 AM PDT

Today we will be talking with Andrew Ferguson, Associate Professor of Law at UDC-David A. Clarke School of Law about the importance of jury duty. The jury once existed at the core of American constitutional identity. We discuss why this has changed and how we can reclaim the civic and constitutional identity of jury duty today.

April 24, 2014 09:42 AM PDT

Today we will be talking with Eric Segall, the Kathy and Lawrence Ashe Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law, about the relationship between greater access to the Court, its records and proceedings, and public understanding of the Court and its history. We’d like to note that ConSource takes no position with respect to cameras in the courtroom or greater Supreme Court transparency. We are simply hosting a conversation about this timely issue as it relates to preserving historical records and facilitating civic education.

April 17, 2014 07:38 AM PDT

Robert Tsai's gripping history of alternative constitutions invites readers into the circle of those who have rejected this ringing assertion--the defiant groups that refused to accept the Constitution's definition of who "the people" are and how their authority should be exercised.

America's Forgotten Constitutions is the story of America as told by dissenters: squatters, Native Americans, abolitionists, socialists, internationalists, and racial nationalists. Beginning in the nineteenth century, Tsai chronicles eight episodes in which discontented citizens took the extraordinary step of drafting a new constitution. He examines the alternative Americas envisioned by John Brown (who dreamed of a republic purged of slavery), Robert Barnwell Rhett (the Confederate "father of secession"), and Etienne Cabet (a French socialist who founded a utopian society in Illinois). Other dreamers include the University of Chicago academics who created a world constitution for the nuclear age; the Republic of New Afrika, which demanded a separate country carved from the Deep South; and the contemporary Aryan movement, which plans to liberate America from multiculturalism and feminism.

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