IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

An Observation and a Strange but True "Tale": What Might the Historical Trials of Animals Tell Us About the Transformative Potential of Law in American Culture?


  • Paul Berman

    (University of Connecticut)


As the title indicates, this Essay is based on an observation and a strange but true tale. The observation, which will probably strike many people as uncontroversialperhaps even clichédis that law and legal procedures are at the core of American self-identity and are woven deeply into the fabric of our culture. This is not a new insight. Indeed, de Tocqueville's famous observation that "[s]carcely any political question arises in the United States that is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question" has been repeated so often that it has itself become a part of our national lore. Throughout the twentieth century, de Tocqueville's observation remained accurate. From the Scopes monkey trial to the trial of O.J. Simpson, from the national debate over abortion to the more recent clashes over doctor-assisted suicide, from the success of novelist John Grisham to the explosion of law shows on television, we can easily see that our national obsession with law continues unabated. And, even though lawyers are often objects of derision, when the chips are down, we Americans are apt to frame our struggles in the language of competing rights and to fight our battles in a legal forum.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Berman, "undated". "An Observation and a Strange but True "Tale": What Might the Historical Trials of Animals Tell Us About the Transformative Potential of Law in American Culture?," University of Connecticut School of Law Working Papers uconn_ucwps-1009, University of Connecticut School of Law.
  • Handle: RePEc:bep:conlaw:uconn_ucwps-1009

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bep:conlaw:uconn_ucwps-1009. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.