Heretics in the Temple

Americans Who Reject the Nation's Legal Faith

214 pages

July, 1998

ISBN: 9780814766323



Also available in



Part of the Critical America series


David Ray Papke is Professor of Law at Marquette University. He is the author of Narrative and the Legal Discourse and Framing the Criminal: Crime, Cultural Work, and the Loss of Critical Perspective, 1830-1900.  

All books by David Ray Papke

Americans seem increasingly disenchanted with their legal system. In the wake of several high-profile trials, America's faith in legal authority appears profoundly shaken.

And yet, as David Ray Papke shows in this dramatic and erudite tour of American history, many Americans have challenged and often rejected the rule of law since the earliest days of the country's founding. Papke traces the lineage of such legal heretics from nineteenth-century activists William Lloyd Garrison and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, through Eugene Debs, and up to more recent radicals, such as the Black Panther Party, anti-abortionists, and militia members. A tradition of American legal heresy clearly emergeslinked together by a body of shared references, idols, and commitmentsthat problematizes the American belief in legal neutrality and highlights the historical conflicts between law and justice. Questioning the legal faith both peculiar and essential to American mythology, this alternative tradition is in itself an overlooked feature of American history and culture.