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The Anglo-American Office of Sheriff

Americans' right to elect their Sheriffs comes from ancient English legal tradition.

Speaking to the National Sheriffs' Association on Monday, Attorney General Sessions said, "I want to thank every sheriff in America. Since our founding, the independently elected sheriff has been the people's protector, who keeps law enforcement close to and accountable to people through the elected process." He continued, "The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement." Suprisingly, some persons thought these remarks controversial.

Ignoramuses do not know that our American legal system grew from the English legal system. Even today, the legal systems that came from the English system (e.g., U.S., Canada, Australia) have much more in common with each other than they do with systems that grew from different roots, such as the Napoleonic Codes that are the foundations of the legal systems in much of continental Europe and Latin America. (Louisiana, thanks to its French roots, blends the English and French systems.) As Attorney General Sessions accurately stated, the "office of sheriff" is part of our legal Anglo-American heritage. Indeed, today's "independently elected sheriff" comes from America's devotion to its ancient English legal roots.

In an article in the Journal of the Criminal Law and Criminology, I examined the Office of Sheriff, from its English origin to modern America. In the English system of government, the oldest title of office is "king" and the second oldest title of office is "sheriff." The Anglo-Saxon word for what we today call a "county" was "shire." The word "sheriff" is a compound of "seyre" (meaning "shire") and "reve" (meaning "bailiff" or "guardian"). The sheriff is therefore the guardian of the county. While Americans got rid of kings, they have fortified and improved the Office of Sheriff, drawing on its most ancient roots.

We can trace the modern office of sheriff to the reign of England's King Alfred the Great (871-99). The only English monarch to be dubbed "the Great," Alfred earned the honor by defeating repeated Danish invasions of England. For a while, he fought as guerilla in the swamps and marshes, keeping alive the principle of English sovereignty and leading the English back from the brink of annihilation. During the period of Danish oppression, the English had devolved into lawlessness and robbery. So when Alfred restored English sovereignty, he used the shires to organize community self-defense. The sheriff was the pillar of this self-defense system. As the county leader of the armed people, "the reeve became the guarantor of the survival of the group." (David R. Struckhoff, The American Sheriff 3 (1994)).

The Anglo-Saxon period in England ended in 1066, when the nation was conquered by the Norman French. It was a terrible time for the English. According to historian David Hume, the majority of Anglo-Saxons were reduced "to a state of real slavery." (David Hume, History of England, vol. 1, p. 437 (1778) (republished by Liberty Fund 1983). Centuries later, many English and Americans--such as Edward Coke (1552– 1634, the greatest jurist of his time) and Thomas Jefferson--would look back to the pre-Norman times as a state of lost liberty, which they sought to recover.

In the 1760s, the pre-eminent legal scholar William Blackstone wrote that in Anglo-Saxon times, "sheriffs were elected: following still that old fundamental maxim of the Saxon constitution, that where any officer was entrusted with such power, as if abused might tend to the oppression of the people, that power was delegated to him by the vote of the people themselves." (1 William Blackstone, Commentaries *409). Today, historians are not as sure as Blackstone was that Anglo-Saxon sheriffs were always elected; but as of the 1760s, his view was widely shared.

By the time that English settlement in North America began, in 1607, the Office of Sheriff had changed in some important and positive ways. Sheriffs had to take an oath to uphold the law. They also had to post a bond, as security against any malfeasance in office. Both requirements endure in modern American law. All state constitutions require constitutional officers to take an oath to uphold the constitution. Likewise, a bond is still required, although it may be satisfied by an insurance policy.

By 1607, the election of sheriffs of England was the exception rather than the rule. Some places, such as London, did have charters guaranteeing their right to elect sheriffs. Other counties might obtain the right by giving a sufficiently large gift to the monarch. As practical matter in England, the election of sheriffs in the seventeenth century was less important than formerly, because much of their work had been taken over by justices of the peace.

When the English crossed the Atlantic to America, they took the Office of Sheriff with them. Soon, they would begin shaping that office in a distinctively American way. Although nominally appointed by the royal governor, the American sheriff "was more of a county than a colonial official . . . ." (Cyrus Harreld Karraker, The Seventeenth-Century Sheriff: A Comparative Study of the Sheriff in England and in the Chesapeake Colonies, 1607-1689, at 156 (1930)). The colonial sheriff enjoyed "little of the social functions and prestige of the English official, but economic and political forces more than compensated for this loss . . . restoring to him some of the importance his ancestor early had in England as conservator of the peace . . . ." In sum, "[t]he office was taking on new strength in the colonies while continuing to decline in England. (Id. at 158-59).

An important American innovation was that the sheriff either had a salary or could only charge fees (e.g., for executing a civil judgment) that were fixed by law. This reform recognized the problem of some of the unsalaried English sheriffs who had used their office for personal enrichment.

The American practice of electing sheriffs began in 1652, when the Royal Governor of Virginia told each county to choose its own sheriffs. The commissioners of Northampton County asked the people of the county to elect the sheriff. William Waters became the first sheriff elected in America. It was not surprising that the reestablishment of popular election of sheriffs came from a county government; other than the New England town meetings, the first democratic governments in the American colonies were county governments.

The restoration of direct election of sheriffs "encouraged them to adopt an active role, whilst the fact that they were officials of county government helped to give them the opportunity to do so." Election "meant that sheriffs were amongst the first public officials to be elected in any newly settled area and were therefore able to develop their role with little opposition from competing organisations or officials." Steve Gullion, Sheriffs in Search of a Role, 142 New Law Journal 1156, 1157 (1992).

Americans came to understand the election of the sheriff as a right of the people. The 1802 Ohio Constitution was the first state constitution to formally specify that sheriffs must be elected. The large majority of American state constitutions now require that sheriffs be elected by the people of the county. Today, American sheriffs are elected in all states except Alaska (which has no counties), Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Connecticut (where the office of sheriff was abolished in 2000).

In creating what Jefferson called the "most important" of all the county offices, the American people modeled the office on the best features of the Anglo-Saxon Office of Sheriff. The Americans also included what they considered to be improvements that had taken place in the centuries after the Norman Conquest. As one historian would observe in 1930, "in America today . . . the sheriff retains many of his Anglo-Saxon and Norman characteristics. (Karraker, p. 159). Or as another historian put it, "Virtually no significant changes have occurred in the American system of county law enforcement during the past century. Most sheriffs and constables operate under the same basic laws and customs as existed at the creation of their posts." (Frank Richard Prassel, The Western Peace Officer 119 (1972)). In the American legal system of 2018, few things are so similar to 898 as the Office of Sheriff.

Today, most Americans enjoy a right that is denied almost everywhere else in the world, including England: the right of electing the chief law enforcement officers of their county. This is one application of a fundamental principle of American law: "The people, not the government, possess the absolute sovereignty." New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 274 (1964) (Justice Brennan quoting James Madison).

A modern historian of sheriffs urges that their contemporary role be recognized as a "tribune of the people" who champions their rights. (Johannes F. Spreen, The Future Shire Reeve--Tribune of the People, in Crime and Justice in America 43, 45 (John T. O'Brien & Marvin Marcus eds., 1979)). This description is consistent with the most admirable aspects of the role of sheriffs, from Anglo-Saxon times to the present. Unlike municipal police chiefs, FBI directors, or the heads of other law enforcement departments or agencies, American sheriffs are constitutional officers, directly accountable to the people through election. If an elected sheriff misuses his or her office, he or she can be replaced at the next election. Not so with abusive FBI directors, police chiefs, or the rest.

Attorney General Sessions was exactly right in praising the Anglo-American tradition of "the independently elected sheriff. . . the people's protector, who keeps law enforcement close to and accountable to people through the elected process." As in many fields of law, such as freedom of the press, America has built on its English legal foundation--taking good principles, and strengthening and extending them.

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  • Old Smokin' Egg||

    Byline?

  • Jeff_Kleppe||

    Perhaps this is a per curiam post

  • ||

    Fixed. Thank you. I'm new to the Reason blogging software. Dave

  • apedad||

    And yet the National Sheriffs' Association applauds civil forfeiture!

    http://www.sheriffs.org/sherif.....forfeiture

  • OtisAH||

    It's okay, the Sheriff of Nottingham did that kind of thing all the time.

  • Eidde||

    But the Sheriff of Tingham did the exact opposite of everything the Sheriff of Nottingham did.

  • OtisAH||

    "Suprisingly, some persons thought these remarks controversial."

    Whereas unsurprisingly, nobody seems to want to take credit for this post. Also unsurprising is the fact the author needed so many paragraphs to parse his (?) defense of JeffBo, since the general connotation of "Anglo-American" is "white person," not "based in Anglo-Saxon legal traditions."

  • the original jack||

    "The world is watching what we do today in America. They will know what we do here today, and they will treat all of us accordingly in the future—our soldiers, our diplomats, our journalists, anybody who travels beyond these borders. I hope we remember this as we go forward. I sincerely hope we can protect what has been called the "great writ"—a writ that has been in place in the Anglo-American legal system for over 700 years."

    Barry Obama -- 2006

    Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for more than a decade, said captured suspects deserve to file writs of habeus corpus. Calling it "the foundation of Anglo-American law," he said the principle "says very simply: If the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, 'Why was I grabbed?' And say, 'Maybe you've got the wrong person.'"

    Barry Obama -- 2008

    Obama would not say whether [closing Gitmo] could be achieved within the first 100 days of his term, citing the challenge of creating a balanced process "that adheres to rule of law, habeas corpus, basic principles of Anglo-American legal system, but doing it in a way that doesn't result in releasing people who are intent on blowing us up.

    CBS News

  • OtisAH||

    I guess it just sounds different in the original Confederate.

  • the original jack||

    I guess you got painted into a corner of your own making, eh. Perhaps you'll learn to take a moment to reflect on your post BEFORE you post instead of afterwards. Perhaps. But probably not.

  • OtisAH||

    Nah, I'm good. I made a bad comment on the internet. I've made plenty others. And I'll likely make more.

  • Bored Lawyer||

    " the general connotation of "Anglo-American" is "white person," not "based in Anglo-Saxon legal traditions.""

    Really? Says who?

    Among lawyers, Anglo-American clearly refers to the latter. (As opposed to the civil law tradition that dominates continental Europe.)

    And "white person" is much broader than Anglo-American. Ethnic French, Germans and Italians, to name a few, are all considered "white," but not Anglo-American.

  • BigChiefWahoo||

    I would argue that if you are an American who speaks English as your first language, you are an Anglo-American regardless of your skin color.

  • bernard11||

    You would?

    Then you would be wrong.

  • FlameCCT||

    Wrong again Bernard but I'm not surprised.

  • FlameCCT||

    The US gov't also recognizes the ethnic categories of Hispanic/Latino, Arab, & Jew to be "White" race classification.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    When anti-elite, anti-government, anti-establishment goobers are citing the U.S. government as an authority (on racial issues, no less), the Russians have succeeded in making a mess of America.

    Come on, goobers, don't forget what brung ya, or this isn't going to be much fun.

  • the original jack||

    Is this the "real" Artie posting or one of his many satirists? It is tough going thru life as a living example of Poe's Law.

  • Weagle99||

    Yet seems you want that very g'ment to enforce racial issues

  • Vandalia||

    And the general connotation of "diversity" is "hiring incompetent people." So what is your point?

  • OtisAH||

    Probably something derogatory about you.

  • damikesc||

    How is it Sessions' fault that the critics are historical imbeciles?

    This isn't even a mildly stupid "controversy". This is PROFOUNDLY stupid and the people whining are simply stating "I don't know what the hell I'm talking about"

  • albo||

    It's only his fault that he didn't anticipate that thanks to the internet and Our New Woke Hotness, imbeciles yell the loudest.

  • damikesc||

    I'd argue that if they're too dumb to grasp what Jeff Friggin' Sessions is saying, then they might want to sit down and not let everybody else know what an imbecile they are.

  • Seamus||

    This is stupider than jumping to the conclusion that the D.C. government employee who used the word "niggardly" was uttering a racial slur.

  • khm001||

    the general connotation of "Anglo-American" is "white person," not "based in Anglo-Saxon legal traditions."

    This is true for true racists, like you, who NEED to make sure everyone focuses on race, instead of culture. Racists, like you, continue to rationalize your continued degradation of the language to distort what others say, so you can maintain your fictional victimhood status.

  • Sebastian Cremmington||

    The tales of Robin Hood with the antagonist the Sheriff of Nottingham took place after Norman Conquest of England.

  • Bruce Hayden||

    And, from the stories, the Sheriff there was appointed by the king's regent and younger brother, John Lackland.

  • William_Zanzinger||

    Of course, he could have made his point just as well by saying something like "The office of sheriff is a critical part of our American tradition of law enforcement."

    Including the reference to "Anglo" *could* have been a simple acknowledgement of legal history. Or it *could* have been a racist dog whistle honoring Sheriffs like Joe Arpaio who persecute those who are not "Anglo," under color of law.

    Ignoramuses interpret things the way they want, regardless of context.

  • Kazinski||

    Joe Arpaio isn't an Anglo.

  • William_Zanzinger||

    Maybe self-hatred partly explains why he is so driven to support racial profiling and birtherism.

  • Auditpop||

    If it's a dog whistle, why do only people like you hear it?

  • William_Zanzinger||

    Racists consistently choose to ignore or rationalize signs of racism.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Anti-racism activists consistently see racism where it doesn't exist.

  • bernard11||

    Some people see racism where it doesn't exist.

    Others don't see it where it does exist.

  • Seamus||

    True, but use of the term "Anglo-American" to refer to our legal heritage is not something that intelligent people regard as racist.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I just knew Matthew Slyfield would be a color-blind, post-racial, tolerant, traditional-values-loving, sovereign American white citizen, just trying to make America great again.

  • Careless||

    If it's a dog whistle, why do only people like you hear it?

    Racists consistently choose to ignore or rationalize signs of racism.

    You see this, William? This is you admitting you're the dog.

  • Careless||

    So tell us, why do you think he would want the "anti-racists" like you to hear it, but not his supporters? what good would that do him?

  • Noscitur a sociis||

    Of course, he could have made his point just as well by saying something like "The office of sheriff is a critical part of our American tradition of law enforcement."

    If you think that, you didn't understand his point, which is that the office of sheriff isn't just an American tradition: as Prof. Kopel explains, the institution predates our country by almost a thousand years.

  • FlameCCT||

    Hate to burst your bubble of self righteous indignation however Hispanic/Latino are also White race. Duhhhh

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Not to be too picky, but this

    For a while, he fought as guerilla in the swamps and marshes, keeping alive the principle of English sovereignty and leading the English back from the brink of annihilation.

    kind of sloppy writing has always annoyed me. I doubt the author thinks the English people were literally at the brink of annihilation; it was only the nobility / sovereignty. Too often people treat elected leaders, unelected government bureaucrats, and society as just synonyms.

  • RoyMo||

    But they actually sort of were. If the Scandinavian colonization of the country had continued uninterrupted through the tenth century much of what is today England would be a more Scandinavian country linguistically and even genetically. The old Danelaw is marked by a historical dialect of English filled with Norse words, and Scots is largely distinguished from English not by gaelic words but by Norse ones. In addition the Danes settled large portions of Northumbria and did so with ordinary Norse Freemen who replaced the farmers and townsmen as much as they assimilated them, taking the better farms even as their appearance coincided with the abandonment of the poorer ones. A complete defeat would have made this far more extensive. In Southeastern Ireland, Wexford, Waterford, etc... the population is to this day genetically very similar to Eastern Norway and Southwestern Sweden. Now some of this is due to the large numbers of Irish slaves taken back to the homeland, but is 't being kidnapped into slavery not too different from annhilation as a people. The genetic evidence is very strong.

  • Michael Cook||

    I expect this comment to be expunged for being off-topic, but will make a thin attempt to justify this post because if I posted it to where it belongs it would not garner qualified legal scrutiny. My pet hobby horse is coerced confession via the plea bargain, and the stellar example of that in America today is guilty plea that Gen. Michael Flynn took for lying to the FBI.

    The sentencing on this charge will be in May. Flynn's first FBI interview was by agent Peter Strzok a year ago. Strzok and James Comey then separately testified to Congress that in their opinion Flynn had committed no crimes. Further, a Washington Post story apparently based on a transcript of a FISA unmasked phone conversation between Flynn and the Russian ambassador concluded that Flynn said nothing illegal.

    But then Flynn attended what he anticipated would be an ordinary meeting with the team of special counsel Robert Mueller that turned out to be an interrogation. Not long afterward, Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI.

    The pea was accepted by Judge Rudolf Contreras, who promptly recused himself from further involvement. The judge taking over the case is named Sullivan, and Sullivan promptly ordered that Mueller to turn over to Flynn the statements that Comey and Strzok had made to Congress.

    My info on this is only from talk radio.

  • Michael Cook||

    Is no one else a little shocked that transcripts of both parties in a government-wiretapped phone conversation make it so easily to the newspapers?

  • bernard11||

    the stellar example of that in America today is guilty plea that Gen. Michael Flynn took for lying to the FBI.

    It may be an example, but it is hardly the "stellar" example. Did Flynn not have good lawyers available to him? What punishment does he face, and how does that compare to the punishment often faced by indigent defendants represented by overworked public defenders?

  • OtisAH||

    The appearance to date is that Flynn agreed to the plea in order to keep his son out of jail.

  • swood1000||

    Ignoramuses do not know that our American legal system grew from the English legal system.

    The Root begs to differ:

    A previous report by the Washington Post, which refers to the history of the sheriff's office and the etymological origins of the term, might suggest to some that Sessions was alluding to the fact that "sheriff" combines the Anglo-Saxon words for "shire"—meaning "county"—and "reeve," meaning "guardian."

    To this I say, nah, nigga. Sessions is a well-documented white supremacist who was so hot for incendiary racist behavior that Coretta Scott King once argued successfully for him not to become a federal judge.

    In short, Sessions meant that shit exactly the way it sounded.

    The NAACP weighed in:

    The NAACP in a statement said Sessions's "latest racially-tinged comments" should give "all people reason to worry."

    "His decision to link the term Sheriff to some part 'of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement,' is an unfortunate yet consistent aspect of the language coming out of the Department of Justice under his tenure and in the opinion of the NAACP, qualifies as the latest example of dog whistle politics," NAACP officials said.

    Trump haters risk debasing their accusations.

  • albo||

    "How're words offensive? And why should I have to tolerate YOUR interpretation? I'm the one using the word. ASK me how I'm using it, don't TELL me. And if you don't like the way I'm using it, so what? It's my right. It's my freedom of expression. Without that, we're nothing but slaves" Johnny Lydon

  • Sarcastr0||

    Weird how all these Trump haters are debunking all these ridiculous Trump lies.

  • Careless||

    I can't even parse this. What lie did Trump tell here? How did they debunk what he said?

    Assuming you meant "lies about Trump's associates", well, The Root did just the opposite in humiliating fashion (but they're quite used to that), and the NAACP's statement is a deflection from the truth

  • FlameCCT||

    N ational
    A ssociation for the
    A dvancement of
    C olored
    P rogressives

  • Martinned||

    Wow, I guess you can beat the drum of American exceptionalism about any topic under the sun.

    (Although none of this explains what's so "critical" about having an elected sheriff. I guess the author got a little distracted by all his patriotism.)

  • KevinP||

    Wow, I guess our Sneering Dutchman is back.

  • Kazinski||

    You ain't American, we don't expect you to understand. Either Sheriffs or American Exceptionalism.

    Its OK, I'm sure you have your own thing.

  • Martinned||

    Of course, that's the exceptional thing about exceptionalism: every country has it. And it's annoying everywhere.

  • Careless||

    Martinned, did you miss the giant left-wing freakout about his use of the phrase? Because that's the context here: the left going batshit insane ranting about racism because he said something true and accurate

  • Careless||

    And if you didn't miss it, then how can you possibly call this "beating the drum of American exceptionalism" when it's directly refuting these lunatics?

  • M.L.||

    Even the noted leftist constitutional scholar, Barrack Hussein Obama, has praised our Ango-American legal heritage. I see someone has already provided the quotes in this thread. Just more examples of the rank idiocy and hatefulness of some on the left.

  • Martinned||

    Well, he would. No one ever hurt their chances of election by flattering the electorate.

  • Kazinski||

    Well Obama did have a degree in Law, edited the Harvard Law review, and was an adjunct Constitutional Law professor. So even though I was never a big Obama fan, I do believe he did have some appreciation for our Judeo-Christian Anglo-American legal tradition otherwise I don't think he would have spent that much time studying it and teaching it.

  • bernard11||

    What is it that makes our legal tradition Judeo-Christian?

    And what does that mean, anyway?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I congratulate my conservative friends for so enthusiastically celebrating the apparently noteworthy single occasion at which they can respond to 'Jeff Sessions said or did something backward and hideously bigoted today, bringing shame upon all of conservatism' with anything other a limp nod and a hope that the moment passes.

  • Martinned||

    Well, yes, why would conservatives object to a practice that is so wonderfully suited to keeping the brown people in their place?

  • KevinP||

    Speaking of keeping brown people in their place...

    Chicago, which has not had a Republican mayor since 1931:
    NBC News: 'Crook County' Author: Judicial System Stacked Against Blacks, Latinos


    Quote:
    Van Cleve documents how minority defendants in Chicago were referred to as "Mopes," a term with the same derogatory intent as the N-word. Fabricated police reports were overlooked.

    Rather than a case of rogue officers and "a few bad apples," Van Cleve presents a searing picture of systemic and deeply entrenched racism - including among defense attorneys. Those within the system who try to fight its defects often risk retaliation and isolation.

    Minority defendants, she writes, were often viewed as objects with no humanity. Van Cleve shows how even members of the public, such as defendants' family members, were routinely disrespected and subjected to humiliation and abuse.
  • Arthur I Kirkland||

    Actually commie Kirkland was one of the people screaming on Facebook about this, because commie Kirkland didn't know the actual meaning of "Anglo-American."

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I do not participate in Facebook.

    Are you just cranky because the action against Netanyahu today seems a precursor for belligerent right-wing elected officials from one side of our globe to the other?

  • OtisAH||

    For my money, I think "Kommie Kirkland" is what you're looking for. Regardless, you should go back to bull cow. "Commie" just doesn't have the punch it used to.

  • Arthur I Kirkland||

    Commie Kirkland can't be Bull Cow. He didn't post a picture of a bull and call it a cow.

  • OtisAH||

    Ahh, somit is Somin. I don't think that was clear the last time.

  • Kazinski||

    Arthur, I realize this isn't your real name, but I just have to ask, why would someone that thinks any mention of Anglo-American is racist would pick any name that was so comprehensively Anglo American than Arthur Kirkland? Its hard to think of a first name more British upper-crust than Arthur, and Kirkland is medieval northern English for Churchland.

    Every time you post here I think "what is this overbearing clueless Anglo-American racist overcompensating for now?"

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I never indicated that any mention of Anglo-American is racist. To the contrary, I observed that this is the single moment at which Jeff Sessions said something that isn't belligerently backward and bigoted.

    You seem unfamiliar with my background -- crusader for justice, Oscar nominee (damn that talentless hack Ted Kramer), movie star looks. Also, and perhaps most important, on the right side of history.

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    You thought his recent comments about slavery were bigoted?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    You got me. Two moments.

  • Burkhard||

    Interesting you should quote Hume's History of England - written when he was librarian to the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh - and then ignore the still extant office of Sheriff in Scotland (an appointed judge) . It's almost as if only the English colonised America, even though the first permanent English settlement in the Americas was named for a Scot. The work was a political pamphlet as much as a historical treatise, written in the context of aftermath of the Jacobite uprising that had seen some Scots allied with the French - so I'd take his account of the Norman invasion with a good pinch of salt. One thing the Normans brought with them of course was the jury, so consistency would demand to consider this too as an instrument of oppression.

    As for sheriffs, the sheriff of Nottingham has already made an appearance on this thread, so I just mention that the first act of rebellion against English domination saw William Wallace kill William Heselrig, the English Sheriff of Lanark, in the "Action of Lanark". So I'm not quite buying into the story of a continuous bulwark of freedom...

    Sheriffs had been appointed office holders in Scotland since David I, King of Scots (1124 to 1153), later the office became hereditary before the Heritable Jurisdictions (Scotland) Act 1746, abolished the heritable office, with the sheriffs-depute taking on their role. Only 2 of them were full time, the rest senior members of the Faculty of Advocates, of which Hume was the librarian.

  • RoyMo||

    Scottish law has been completely sidelined in our nation's history, Spanish law has formed a considerable portion of property law in our Western states and even French law has considerable influence in Louisiana. Of Scottish law, I have only heard it referenced when it supports Spanish law over traditional English law.

  • Careless||

    And you think this is at all relevant why, exactly? Since you yourself have pointed out the differences between the Scottish and American and English systems, I believe you know the answer is "it wasn't"

  • WJack||

    Professor Kopel,

    Thanks for the refresher.
    .
    Some of the remarks here show that some of those disadvantaged by attendance at some of the "elite" progressive institutions are oblivious to Anglo – American history . . . apparently they were kept busy learning to feel guilty.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    How are so many conservatives stupid enough to snipe at the quality of liberal-libertarian schools when damned near every conservative-controlled campus is a third-rate, nonsense-teaching, censorship-shackled, snowflake-strewn goober factory? Is it the homeschooling? Backwater religious schools? Inbreeding? Fox News?

  • Eidde||

    Fox News, homeschooling, religious backwaters...I think you achieved some kind of left-wing bingo there.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Liberal-libertarian schools like Mizzou?

  • the original jack||

    There goes Arthur (I think) ranting again. Or.... perhaps it is one of the many AK satirists? It must be tough going thru life as a living example of Poe's Law.

  • the original jack||

    There goes Arthur (I think) ranting again. Or.... perhaps it is one of the many AK satirists? It must be tough going thru life as a living example of Poe's Law.

  • RoyMo||

    Having never attended such an institution I cannot say, however I rarely hear of many who have on this blog or elsewhere. This suggests something of the dominance of progressives in running our nation's universities. Heck Baylor is more like an elite progressive institution than it is like what you are referring to.

  • WJack||

    Mr. Kirkland,

    Your comments indicate that the schools you attended owe you, or whoever paid, a complete refund.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Or maybe he should have just paid attention.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Your comment indicates you should stick with Biola, Liberty, Ouachita Baptist, Bob Jones, Franciscan, Grove City, Regent, Wheaton, Ozarks, Ave Maria, Hillsdale, Cedarbrook, and hundreds of similar third-rate, nonsense-based, right-wing goober factories, while your betters will continue to rely on Harvard, Berkeley, Williams, Stanford, Columbia, Reed, UCLA, NYU, Michigan, Yale, Washington, Wisconsin, and dozens of other strong, liberal-libertarian schools.

    Carry on, clingers.

  • the original jack||

    The "real Artie"? Or someone else posing at Artie? We'll never know from the post as Poe's Law kicks in once again.

  • Michael Cook||

    Don't know why I had this naive notion that even after a FISA court unmasked someone for conversing with a Russian there would be some type of controlled access or need-to-know protections on what the citizen actually said in a wiretapped conversation. A newspaper being given the transcript isn't that.

  • ||

    America became a superpower because of its Anglo-Protestant roots. Liberals want to replace that with the failed Catholic ideas that created Venezuela.

  • Eidde||

    Not even Pope Francis supports the socialist regime, he supports peace talks between the regime and its opponents.

  • Eidde||

    Are you familiar with the Social Gospel movement?

    Good thing Protestants aren't like that any more!

  • ||

    Only tangentially, but I've long argued that Christianity inevitably leads to socialism.

  • OtisAH||

    That's Jesus for you.

  • FlameCCT||

    I would disagree. Liberation Theology is just Socialism using cherry-picked Scripture. Started in Latin America to oppose the Roman Catholic Church. Unfortunately the current Pope is a Liberation Theologist.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Careful, FlameCCT. If you aren't a fan of cherry-picked Scripture, you can't be a genuine wingnut. I know rough-and-tumble commenting can get people confused, but you need to keep your eye on first principles.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    the failed Catholic ideas

    Uh-oh. If a conservative is riled enough to go after the Catholics, it won't be long before it's mestizos, Jews, A-rabs, atheists, and darkies.

  • ||

    The Catholic Church is a corrupt socialistic organization. It's not a friend of conservatives.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Thank God conservatives still have Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, that Jeffress guy, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye, and Paula what's-her-name to provide spiritual comfort, moral leadership, and the occasional use of a televangelism-funded private jet . . . oh, and let's not forget the miraculous living spirit of Jerry Falwell!

    Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord.

  • OtisAH||

    H, that's rich. Nobody tell Douthat!

  • KevinP||

    It's profitable to go after the darkies. In Ferguson, Missouri, an overwhelmingly black and Democratic city:

    Washington Post: Ferguson shows how a police force can turn into a plundering 'collection agency'


    Quote:
    The amount of revenue siphoned through citations rose 56 percent between 2011 and 2014 — from $1.4 million to $2.3 million — which netted the city a tidy tribute. So when the chief of police reported that his team had "beat our next biggest month in the last four years" in revenue collection, the city manager had one reaction.

    "Wonderful!" he said.
  • bernard11||

    Where would we be without all those Anglo-Protestants who worked on the Manhattan Project?

  • bernard11||

    Ignoramuses do not know that our American legal system grew from the English legal system.

    The statement: "ignoramuses do not know X" is sort of silly, because by definition an ignoramus is ignorant, though of what is undefined. So yes, some ignoramuses are ignorant of that, others are ignorant of many other things, like logic or the notion of redundancy.

  • MightyMouse||

    When idealizing the elected sheriff, it's easy to forget the plight of the minority.

    For example, how helpful was the sheriff in protecting against the abuses of the 1920s south during the rise of the KKK?

    Sure, the system protects against a tryanical sovereign who lacks majority support. However, is that the greatest risk democracy faces, now or in the future?

    Joe Arpaio is a pretty good example of how Might makes Right.

    Rules for rulers:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rStL7niR7gs

  • MightyMouse||

    It seems demagoguery is another weakness. It works when a plurality of people feels disempowered and supports a brash authoritarian so they can, vicariously, feel control. Because the people's primary motivation for their support is simply to "feel like they are winning", the more the authoritarian flaunts norms, the more empowered the supporters feel. Yes, morally disgusting, but it seems that was the dynamic at play which gave Trump the nomination.

  • ravenshrike||

    And the fact that the GOP establishment decided to support a political dynasty in the form of Jeb Bush. That was a complete nonstarter. And the fact that the media gave him oodles upon oodles of free press in the hope that he would become the GOP nominee and then lose.

  • KevinP||

    Many are concerned that Trump the authoritarian will put Muslims and gays in concentration camps, perhaps even together.

    There has already been an American President who put American citizens in concentration camps.

    Liberal Democrat and progressive icon Franklin Roosevelt.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_9066

    The dark cloud of fascism is always descending upon Republicans but it always turns out to be composed of progressives and Democrats.

  • MightyMouse||

    It's disappointing so many Americans are so adverse to the increasingly pluralized society.

  • ||

    That's because diversity is not our strength. In fact, it's death. There are zero examples of free societies that are also racially and culturally diverse. Singapore is successful economically, but it's a police state.

  • apedad||

    Actually there are zero examples of free societies that are also racially and culturally pure.

  • MightyMouse||

    Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada...

    India is the world's largest democracy, and it is very diverse. It's not the most free society, but is making progress.

    I suppose you could be right if by culturally diverse, you only mean a large part of the population does not value freedom and the other part does. But that's like trying to argue that red is blue.

  • ||

    You consider Switzerland and the Netherlands racially diverse?

  • apedad||

    TrueAmericanParrot--you're really showing your ignorance here and might want to stop.

    The Netherlands--and especially Amsterdam--is a melting pot due to it's being a major port city/country for over a 1,000 years. It welcomes and celebrates diversity.

    Switzerland, while not as diverse as the Netherlands, is still quite diverse; they have three official languages (Swiss, German, and Italian) and everyone also learns English. The country is divided by the Alps with a significant German influence in the north (German named towns, German dialect, etc) while south of the Alps, the culture is more Italian.

    Just stick to bashing gays, k?

  • ||

    I said "racially" diverse. Italians and Swiss are much closer to each other than Anglo Americans and Somali Muslims.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The Man Of Many Names is right on this one. With right-wingers, it always comes back to the darkies.

  • ||

    People are tribal and race matters, whether people like you admit it or not. If it matters to the non-whites, it should matter to whites when formulating immigration policy.

  • Seamus||

    Wow, Switzerland sure is diverse! They have three different flavors of white people (four if you count the Romansh)!

  • KevinP||

    India is the world's largest democracy, and it is very diverse. It's not the most free society, but is making progress.

    As a native of India who visits there frequently, I can testify that it is regressing. And because it has a socialistic government with almost no constraints on its power, whoever wins gets to put the screws to the other side.

  • gormadoc||

    The socialist government is driven by Hindu nationalists. They are not welcoming of diversity.

  • bernard11||

    You mean the USA is not a free society?

  • KevinP||

    Speaking of an increasingly pluralized society, in Los Angeles, Latino immigrants have to pretend that they are Mexican to get a job. Seriously.

    LA Times: In L.A., speaking 'Mexican' to fit in


    Quote:
    Juan Carlos Rivera knew that if he wanted to get a dishwashing job at the MacArthur Park hamburger stand, he would have to pretend to be Mexican...
  • Drewski||

    Rivera's job at the hamburger stand ended twenty years ago, so I don't think this is really a persuasive indication of the current social climate. I frankly suspect you didn't read the whole article.

  • RoyMo||

    In Harris County Texas, aka Houston, a Republican Sherrif lost an election to a Democratic opponent after arresting someone for filming his deputies, of course a few elections later that Democrat left office after a scandal where his deputies abused inmates at his jail. I doubt any of that would have happened if he had been appointed.

  • FlameCCT||

    Ah yes, the Progressive Plantation Houston. Where the mayor has no problem violating the Civil Rights of people especially POC, if they refuse to obey their Elitist Masters and Uncle Tom Overseers.

  • KevinP||

    In the 1920s South, it is safe to say that most Sheriffs were Democrats. So they were the abusers and tacit supporters of the KKK. As was the Democratic President at the time, Woodrow Wilson.

    Dixiecrats Triumphant: progressive Democrat President Woodrow Wilson


    Quote:
    Wilson's historical reputation is that of a far-sighted progressive… Domestically, however, Wilson was a racist retrograde, one who attempted to engineer the diminution of both justice and democracy for American blacks—who were enjoying little of either to begin with.

    One legacy of post-Civil War Republican ascendancy was that Washington's large black populace had access to federal jobs, and worked with whites in largely integrated circumstances. Wilson's cabinet put an end to that, bringing Jim Crow to Washington.

    Wilson allowed various officials to segregate the toilets, cafeterias, and work areas of their departments. One justification involved health: White government workers had to be protected from contagious diseases, especially venereal diseases, that racists imagined were being spread by blacks. In extreme cases, federal officials built separate structures to house black workers. Most black diplomats were replaced by whites; numerous black federal officials in the South were removed from their posts; the local Washington police force and fire department stopped hiring blacks.
  • Weagle99||

    I would ask the same question of 2018's Cook County sheriff as it relates to hooligans taking other peoples' cars via armed force on a multiple times per day basis or the constant shooting of people by the dozens on a daily basis. Seems the South solved its issues only to see the blue utopias revert back to the 20's.

  • ||

    Stop bothering Kopel about sheriffs. The new school shooting in Parkland, FL means that he has to get busy again writing about how the Nazis confiscated guns.

  • Michael Cook||

    Woodrow Wilson shared the view that the Radical Republican attempt to remake the South socially during "Reconstruction" was a dismal experiment. It only worked to the extent that the boot of the army was on the neck of the South and probably increased, not decreased racism.

    Wilson did wisely keep the USA out of the 1914 European war for as long as he possibly could. Improved trans-Atlantic communications helped fuel rampant anti-German propaganda in the media of the time, which was newspapers, to include the NY Times. When the US did go to war on Germany in 1917 we lost 112,000 soldiers killed in a remarkably short time.

    Wilson's high idealism side best expressed itself in the creation of the League of Nations. Unfortunately, Woodrow had a streak of arrogant condescension that crippled him in dealing with Clemenceau, the French leader, and Henry Cabot Lodge, leader of the Senate Republicans at home.

  • Michael Cook||

    I should have added that Wilson was a law professor.

  • Seamus||

    Nope. He was a lawyer for a while, but he went back to grad school, got a Ph.D., and was a professor of government.

  • captcrisis||

    "Suprisingly, some persons thought these remarks controversial."

    The VC'ers don't seem to actually know any black people, at least none that they think it appropriate to discuss legal issues with. So you being surprised by this is not surprising.

  • Careless||

    Please do explain, capt, what their arguments that aren't completely fucking moronic.

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