« Stephen Mortellaro: The Unconstitutionality of the Federal Ban on Noncitizen Voting and Congressionally-Imposed Voter Qualifications
Michael Ramsey
| Main | A Lot More from Carissa Byrne Hessick on Corpus Linguistics
Michael Ramsey »


Jed Shugerman Apologizes to Tillman and Blackman (Updated)
Michael Ramsey

At Take Care Blog, Jed Shugerman (Fordham): An Apology to Tillman and Blackman. Re-posted in full, because it deserves to be: 

On Tuesday evening, I received the proposed response by Seth Tillman and Josh Blackman explaining their treatment of the Hamilton “Condensed Letter.” I am writing separately from my co-authors on our amicus brief to offer my appreciation for the hard work by Tillman and Blackman to produce these experts’ reports, and I write to offer them an apology.

I welcome amicus’s introduction of these scholars and their interpretations. I have great respect for their expertise and their analysis. I am satisfied that Tillman and Blackman have provided support for their perspective on these documents. I note that we found the “Condensed Letter” in the archives only six weeks ago, and I will continue to examine it in light of these experts’ reports. There is much more to the arguments about the Emoluments Clauses, and I look forward to engaging them in future briefs.

Most importantly, I offer them a public and personal apology for my public questioning of their claims. I was wrong to suggest that Tillman misused sources, and I was wrong to question his credibility. I take full responsibility for my Aug. 31st blog post, which was my work alone, and solely my error in judgment. Even if my questions were reasonable and posed in good faith, I regret that I did not ask these questions by email to give Tillman an opportunity to respond directly. Tillman is a diligent, creative, intelligent, and learned scholar who deserved more respect than the way I handled these exchanges. I’m sincerely sorry for any trouble or hardship I caused for Mr. Tillman and his family.

Background on the Tillman/Blackman filing and related controversy is here.   

All scholars make mistakes at time.  The question is what comes after.  Professor Shugerman (whom I don't know personally) shows an honest and courageous way.  There's a lot to be learned from this episode.

UPDATE:  It makes the New York Times ... Adam Liptak: ‘Lonely Scholar With Unusual Ideas’ Defends Trump, Igniting Legal Storm. Despite the headline, generally complementary to Professor Tillman, including:

Five legal historians, including Professor Shugerman, filed their own friend-of-the-court brief. They said Mr. Tillman’s had “incorrectly described” the evidence in a footnote in his brief.

Mr. Tillman took none of this lightly. In a sworn statement last week, he repeated his original position. “I stand entirely behind the above footnote: behind every sentence, every phrase, every word and every syllable,” he wrote. “I made no mistake, intentional or inadvertent. I retract nothing, and I do not intend to retract anything.”

Mr. Tillman, who is represented by Josh Blackman, an energetic law professor and litigator, rounded up declarations from experts in founding-era documents and on Hamilton. They agreed that the document said to contradict Mr. Tillman’s account was not signed by Hamilton and was prepared after his death.

I asked Mr. Tillman’s critics for their reactions. Professor Shugerman responded with “a public and personal apology.”


Professor Shugerman’s fellow historians — John MikhailJack RakoveGautham Rao and Simon Stern — said they were still studying the matter.

At Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds comments:  "The last time so many legal historians embarrassed themselves was when they defended fraudulent legal historian Michael Bellesiles."

RELATED:  Professors Blackman and Tillman are guest-blogging at Volokh Conspiracy.  Here is their first post: The Emoluments Clauses litigation, Part 1: The Constitution’s taxonomy of officers and offices.