ACADEMIC TOPICS

Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the Court ruled that African Americans, whether enslaved or free, were not citizens of the United States and therefore did not have the right to sue in federal court. The Court also ruled that the federal government could not prohibit slavery in the territories. The decision was a prime factor leading to the Civil War, but was eventually rendered moot by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- which provides that anyone born or naturalized in the United States is a citizen of the nation and of his or her state.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Also known as the Stimulus Package or Recovery Act, a federal law intended to jumpstart the struggling economy by creating new jobs and saving existing ones, spurring investment, and fostering accountability and transparency in government spending. The package contained extensive funding for science, engineering research, and infrastructure, and smaller amounts for education, social sciences, and the arts. The Act has its own website, www.recovery.gov.

Restatement of the Law

A series of legal treatises that set out basic U.S. law on a variety of subjects, written and updated by legal scholars and published by the American Law Institutes. While not having the force of statutes or court rulings, the Restatements (as lawyers generally call them) are prestigious and can carry some weight in a legal argument. Topics covered include agency, contracts, property, torts, trusts, and more.

Cumis Counsel

An attorney employed by a defendant in a lawsuit when there is an insurance policy supposedly covering the claim, but there is a conflict of interest between the insurance company and the insured defendant. Such a conflict might arise if the insurance company is denying full or partial coverage. In California, the defendant can demand that the insurance company pay the attorney fees of a selected attorney rather than use an insurance company lawyer. The term is derived from the name of a 1984 California case.

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