The Forgotten Jurisprudential Debate: Catholic Legal Thought's Response to Legal Realism
John M. Breen
Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Lee J. Strang
University of Toledo College of Law
July 1, 2015
98 Marquette Law Review 1203 (2015)
University of Toledo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-09
Loyola University Chicago School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-3/24
Although countless journal articles and numerous books have described Legal Realism, The Forgotten Jurisprudential Debate: Catholic Legal Thought’s Response to Legal Realism, is the first to describe the widespread and thoughtful critique of Realism by an organized jurisprudential movement of Catholic legal scholars during the 1930s-1940s.
In this Article, we accomplish three goals. First, we describe the standard historical narrative in which the contributions by Catholic legal scholars are ignored or marginalized. This gap is surprising because the critique offered by Catholic legal scholars constituted the single largest body of criticism aimed at Realists. This gap is doubly surprising because the arguments offered by Catholic legal scholars were generally thoughtful and nuanced, in large measure because they built on the world-wide Neo-Scholastic revival then taking place.
Second, we detail the neglected Catholic legal scholars’ critique of Legal Realism. We describe the major Catholic legal scholars and how their movement drew upon, reflected, and facilitated the world-wide revival of Thomistic philosophy. Like other intellectual movements, Catholic legal scholars sought to institutionalize their movement in various ways.
Third, we explore the oddness of historians’ neglect and marginalization of Catholic legal scholar contributions. We end by suggesting causes for the poverty of extant historical accounts.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 110
Keywords: Legal Realism, Catholic legal thought, Thomism, Neo-Thomism, Neo-Scholasticism
Date posted: March 26, 2014 ; Last revised: July 22, 2015