Harry Potter and the Law

51 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2005 Last revised: 20 Sep 2016

Timothy S. Hall

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Jeffrey E. Thomas

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law

Danaya C. Wright

University of Florida Levin College of Law

James Charles Smith

University of Georgia Law School

Aaron Schwabach

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Joel Fishman

Duquesne University

Daniel Austin Green

John Templeton Foundation

Andrew P. Morriss

Texas A&M School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Benjamin H. Barton

University of Tennessee College of Law

Abstract

The magnitude of the Harry Potter phenomenon alone would make it worthy of consideration; the fact that it is children's literature, and thus may play a significant part in forming a future generation's attitudes toward law and legal institutions, makes it even more so. The various contributions to this article explore various aspects of law and culture as presented in or viewed through the Harry Potter stories. The contributions of James Charles Smith and Danaya Wright address the depiction of families in the narratives and the limited role and development of family law. Benjamin H. Barton's contribution considers the failings of the formal source of legal authority in Harry's world, the deeply-flawed Ministry of Magic. Particular flaws are examined in the two subsequent contributions: Aaron Schwabach looks at the operation of the legal system through the lens of the unforgivable curses and contends that they show an arbitrariness contrary to the rule of law, while Joel Fishman explores the arbitrariness of punishment in the narratives. James Charles Smith's contribution explores ambiguities in the legal status and wizarding conventions applicable to house-elves, while Daniel Austin Green's contribution uses the narratives to explore the roles of excuse and justification in their relationship with legal authority and rule of law.

Timothy S. Hall's contribution shows how the rule used to free Dobby the house elf can be used as a pedagogical tool to illustrate the importance of intent in contract law, while Jeffrey E. Thomas's contribution suggests that the negative and satirical depictions of law and legal institutions helps readers to focus on the importance of individual accountability in making moral decisions. Andrew Morriss's contribution addresses the centrality of individual moral choice to the Harry Potter novels, particularly The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire. The final entry, also by Timothy S. Hall, compares the Harry Potter narratives to the Dick Whittington story, showing an interesting cultural evolution from Tudor to modern times.

Keywords: Children's literature, cultural studies, Harry Potter, humor, humorous, interdisciplinary, fantasy, law & literature, law & popular culture

Suggested Citation

Hall, Timothy S. and Thomas, Jeffrey E. and Wright, Danaya C. and Smith, James Charles and Schwabach, Aaron and Fishman, Joel and Green, Daniel Austin and Morriss, Andrew P. and Barton, Benjamin H., Harry Potter and the Law. Texas Wesleyan Law Review, 2006; TJSL Legal Studies Research Paper No. 829344; University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2007-05; UGA Legal Studies Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=829344

Timothy S. Hall

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States

Jeffrey E. Thomas

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law ( email )

5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
United States

Danaya C. Wright

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States
352-273-0946 (Phone)
352-392-3005 (Fax)

James Charles Smith

University of Georgia Law School ( email )

225 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602
United States

Aaron Schwabach (Contact Author)

Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( email )

1155 Island Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
619-961-4304 (Phone)

Joel Fishman

Duquesne University ( email )

600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
United States

Daniel Austin Green

John Templeton Foundation ( email )

300 Conshohocken State Road
Suite 500
West Conshohocken, PA 19428
United States

Andrew P. Morriss

Texas A&M School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce Street
Fort Worth, TX 76133
United States

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center ( email )

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Benjamin H. Barton

University of Tennessee College of Law ( email )

1505 West Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States

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