October 26, 2007
Llewellyn on Sales v. Constitutional Law
Posted by Gordon Smith

I am reading some old Karl Llewellyn articles, including one from the Harvard Law Review entitled "Across Sales on Horseback." Here is the first paragraph:

It is possible that there are fields of our law more fascinating than that of Sales, but I find the possibility difficult to credit. For packed into this small sector of the law is the course of our history over a century and a half, reflected with a range which the narrowness of the subject matter would seem offhand to make impossible, reflected with a precision which rivals even that of the constitutional law field. And because the work is the work of a multitude of courts, inexpert, busy chiefly on other things, average shrewd and more than average honest, but with no supreme authority over them, the picture yielded is a picture of the democratic process in law-making which the constitutional law field can never rival.

Does this resonate with you? Or do you read Llewellyn and think, "Surely he must be kidding!"? When I read the first sentence, I thought he was joking, but this passage resonates with me. I feel the same way about studying contracts and fiduciary law. During law school, I was a Con Law junkie, so I can see the attraction, but now I much prefer to read about private ordering.

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