Welcome to the New Private Law Blog!
Our aim is to start a new and wide-ranging discussion of time-honored issues concerning the rights and duties of individuals and private entities as they relate to one another. Future blog posts will address topics in contracts, torts, property, intellectual property, remedies, restitution, and related areas. We hope they will be of interest to lawyers, judges, scholars, students, lawmakers, journalists, and anyone with an interest in these important and dynamic bodies of law.
The timing is right for this undertaking. In the U.S., more so than other developed nations, private law has for decades operated in the shadow of public law. “All law is public law,” we are told. This bit of American exceptionalism is understandable. Eighty years ago, our most prestigious and powerful court—the court that most garners attention from law professors and law journals—announced that it would no longer rule on questions of substantive common law. Moreover, American law professors have been particularly receptive to the suggestion that private law doctrine is empty, regressive, or both, and must be replaced by social scientific or top-down normative analysis.
Is this all there is to private law? We think not. And we are not alone. In recent years, there has been renewed interest in studying private law on its own terms. Across a range of methodological approaches, one sees a greater willingness to credit the distinct concepts, doctrines, and structures of private law, and a corresponding resistance to the idea that private law has a particular political valence, or that it is simply a form of public, regulatory law.
As participants and witnesses, we are eager to share these exciting developments with you. In keeping with the eclectic spirit of the new movement, we have assembled a methodologically and substantively diverse group of prominent scholars to join us as contributors. They will offer their thoughts on litigation and judicial decisions, legislation, law reform initiatives, recent and classic scholarship, and many other topics. This space will also keep you updated on private law events. (If you want to let others know of your own events related to private law, we’re happy to share that information with our readers.)
We hope that you find private law as intriguing as we do, and the postings on New Private Law to be thought-provoking and useful. Most importantly, we’d be delighted to get your comments and feedback!
John C. P. Goldberg