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Hitting All the Right Notes, Lisa A. Tucker Discusses Her New Book: “Hamilton and the Law: Reading Today’s Most Contentious Legal Issues Through the Hit Musical”

Professor Lisa Tucker

November 30, 2020

Listening to the soundtrack of Hamilton: An American Musical on repeat during a college road trip with her daughter, Professor Lisa A. Tucker realized that the musical includes some of the most complicated legal issues in American society.

Shortly thereafter, she began asking colleagues what they thought of Hamilton and found a slew of legal experts who were not only Hamilton enthusiasts but who also saw connections between their area of expertise and the musical. Tucker found that she could use the musical as an entrypoint for a broader conversation about American law. She began asking for contributors to what became her new book, “Hamilton and the Law: Reading Today’s Most Contentious Legal Issues Through the Hit Musical,” which was published by Cornell University Press on October 15 and recently reviewed by The Washington Post.

The book consists of essays from legal experts across the field, including several law professors, three of whom are faculty members at Kline Law; a former solicitor general of the United States; and the current president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. “Just as Lin Manuel Miranda really valued the idea of showing different voices, different faces in the musical, I wanted to do the same thing,” said Tucker. “I have people from all across the ideological spectrum…I think we can’t have a really vigorous conversation in today’s society without having all of those voices.”

Tucker recently spoke about why she wants “Hamilton and the Law” to provoke deep conversation and contemplation about America’s past as well as its future.

Interview Highlights

Dueling in Hamilton

“Duels are the heart of Hamilton. We see this idea of dueling all the way through. But as many of my contributors point out, dueling takes many forms. There’s verbal dueling. There’s ideological dueling. And, of course, in the hip-hop tradition, there’s hip-hop duels.”

Imagining Different Pasts

“If we can envision the Founders as something other than rich, white men, as Lin Manuel Miranda does…if we can envision that, then maybe it makes the concept of originalism a more progressive idea. And maybe we can use the concept of originalism in a progressive interpretation mode.”

On “Hamilton and the Law”

“I think it’s really important to say the book doesn’t reach any conclusions, it just asks a lot of questions. To me that’s the most fun kind of book to read. I love if I’ve read a book and then over the dinner table, I can say to my family, ‘what do you think of this?’”