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A Common Law of Membership

A Common Law of Membership

(p.63) Three A Common Law of Membership
The Making of Tocqueville'S America
Kevin Butterfield
University of Chicago Press

This chapter will show how the Anglo-American legal culture of the early United States gave a particular shape and bent to the associational landscape that the first generations of American citizens were beginning to form among themselves. The cultural and political forces of the post-Revolutionary United States produced a jurisprudence that allowed civil rights claims to operate even within the ranks of private, voluntary associations, a jurisprudence founded on the idea that all groups comprised the same fundamental units—rights-bearing individuals. It will focus on a case decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1810, after William Duane had a competing Philadelphia newspaper editor, John Binns, expelled from the St. Patrick Benevolent Society, which had been incorporated by the state of Pennsylvania, and from four other, unchartered associations

Keywords:   writ of mandamus, Commonwealth v. St. Patrick Benevolent Society, common law, membership, civil society, John Binns, William Duane

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