7th Amendment: Right to a Jury

7th Amendment
  • Dollar amount absurdly low.
  • "Suits at common law."
    • What counts as a suit at common law?
    • Methodology/test for suits at common law very historical:
      • How would this lawsuit have been considered in 1789?
      • "Originalism": intent of framers, those who wrote the words, in this context.
        • Very contentious idea in constitutional interpretation generally.
        • In context of 7th Amendment, very little dissention, even by more liberal members of court who usually dislike this approach.
          • But they all buy into this idea in context of 7th Am.
      • Because 7th Amendment written textually in an odd way:
        • Unusual use of "preserves" as compared to other provisions in bill of rights.
        • Compare 7th vs. 4th Amendment.
        • Thus connotes historical approach.
        • "Preserve" (lock into place)
          • Make immune from change vs. respect this right (not "preserve" it)
        • What did they have in mind?
    • Lawsuits today are often very different from 1789,
      • If claim is the same, can simply go back and compare.
        • Thus trespass, nuisance easy.
      • But modern lawsuits have different causes of action: how to decide this? What is a "suit at common law"?
      • So must reason by analogy: why most similar to (a) vs. (b)?
        • Law vs. equity
    • Originally codified with a dual system (law vs. equity), now in almost all states and federal there are no separate cases of law and equity (FRCP merged courts).
      • Originally a way for the Crown to appease two sets of people, not a system that makes a lot of sense when comparing what the two courts actually did.
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