An Essay Concerning Judicial Resignation and Non-Cooperation in the Presence of Evil
35 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2011
Date Written: 1988
In the 1840’s Wendell Phillips and his fellow Garrisonians challenged the conscience of the legal profession by their call upon anti-slavery judges to resign their offices. Only a very few ever did so. Surprisingly, the failure of the anti-slavery judges to resign has not embarrassed legal commentators and theorists. There have been no symposia examining their response to the abolitionists; there have been no impassioned exchanges in the pages of the law reviews. The one project of evaluation by a law professor, that of the late Robert Cover, ended as a mild criticism of the failure of these judges to ameliorate the worst aspects of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Professor Cover never analyzed the refusal to resign.
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