USC Gould Search

Sam Erman

Sam Erman

Professor of Law

Email:
Telephone: (213) 740-6372
Fax: (213) 740-5502
699 Exposition Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90089-0074 USA Room: 438

Last Updated: August 7, 2019




Sam Erman is a scholar of law and history, whose research and teaching focuses on citizenship, the Constitution, empire, race, and legal change.

Erman is the author of Almost Citizens: Puerto Rico, the U.S. Constitution and Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2018). The book lays out the tragic story of how the United States denied Puerto Ricans full citizenship following annexation of the island in 1898. As America became an overseas empire, a handful of remarkable Puerto Ricans debated with U.S. legislators, presidents, judges, and others over who was a citizen and what citizenship meant. This struggle caused a fundamental shift in constitutional jurisprudence: away from the post-Civil War regime of citizenship, rights, and statehood and toward doctrines that accommodated racist imperial governance.

Erman’s other projects span widely. He is co-authoring a project concerning the history of birthright nationality in England, France, and the United States. In addition, Erman is part of a research team seeking to use insights from social psychology to expand access to the legal profession. He has authored and organized numerous friend-of-the-court briefs and published op-eds in news outlets, such as CNN Opinion and the Los Angeles Times.

Erman’s prize-winning work appears in leading legal and peer-reviewed journals, including Michigan Law Review, California Law Review, and the Journal of American Ethnic History.

Prior to joining the USC Gould School of Law faculty, Erman served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Anthony Kennedy and to U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland. He received his JD and PhD in American Culture from the University of Michigan. 

Books

  • Almost Citizens: Puerto Rico, the U.S. Constitution, and Empire, (Cambridge University Press, 2018) - (www)

Articles and Book Chapters

  • "Reconstruction and Empire: Legacies of the U.S. Civil War and Puerto Rican Struggles for Home Rule, 1898-1917," (Under consideration by Law and History Review). - (SSRN)
  • “Citizens of Empire: Puerto Rico, Status, and Constitutional Change,” 102 California Law Review 1181 (October 2014). - (SSRN)
  • "Affirmative Meritocracy," 7 Social Issues and Policy Review (with Walton, G., and Spencer, S.) (forthcoming 2013).
  • "Meanings of Citizenship in the U.S. Empire: Puerto Rico, Isabel Gonzalez, and the Supreme Court, 1898-1905," 27 Journal of American Ethnic History 5 (2008) (Received the Carlton C. Qualey Memorial Article Award: The best article published in the Journal of American Ethnic History during the past two years). - (www)
  • "An 'Unintended Consequence': Dred Scott Reinterpreted," 106 Michigan Law Review 1157 (2008) (reviewing Austin Allen, Origins of the Dred Scott Case (2006)). - (Hein)
  • Note, "Word Games: Raising and Resolving the Shortcomings in Accident-Insurance Doctrine that Autoerotic-Asphyxiation Cases Reveal," 103 Michigan Law Review 2172 (2005). - (Hein)

Other Works

  • Citizens of Empire: Federico Degetau, Puerto Rican Status, and the U.S. Order, 1898-1905 (manuscript).

Dissertation

  • Puerto Rico and the Promise of United States Citizenship: Struggles Around Status in a New Empire, 1898-1917 (Ph.D. dissertation). - (www)

FACULTY IN THE NEWS

Los Angeles Times
January 15, 2020
Re: Wayne Sandholtz

Wayne Sandholtz, a faculty member part of both USC Gould and USC Dornsife, wrote an op-ed discussing how Trump is “a few steps from becoming a new kind of autocrat –an elected one.” He analyzes how Trump’s strategies and actions mirror those of other elected autocrats, naming Viktor Orban, Vladimir Putin, and Rodrigo Duterte as examples.

RECENT SCHOLARSHIP

Ariela Gross
November, 2019

Ariela Gross has been elected as the new Chair of the Legal History Section of the American Association of Law Schools. 

Daniel Klerman
November, 2019

“Legal Origin from Outer Space,” Conference on Empirical Legal Studies, Claremont-McKenna College, Claremont, CA.

Thomas D. Lyon
November, 2019

Thomas Lyon commented on Roseanna Sommers’, “Commonsense Consent,” at the 14th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies, Claremont-McKenna College.