As an advance warning, this is likely to be the most law-geeky entry to date, so be prepared.
In Contracts today we went over Strong v. Sheffield, a NY Court of Appeals case in which Judge Andrews, writing for the majority, held that a contract in which there was and implied but not explicit promise on one side was without consideration and therefore unenforceable.
Next up was Wood v. Lucy, a case decided by the same court 22 years later, in which the venerable Judge Cardozo, writing for the majority, held that an implied promise was sufficient consideration, thereby rendering the contract in question A-OK.
I volunteered to explain why Cardozo upheld the Contract, and took the liberty of pointing out that Judge Andrews would disagree with the holding. The professor confirmed my Andrews comment two or three times and then had everybody look at the end of the Lucy opinion where, sure enough, Judge Andrews had concurred with Cardozo. He then turned on the overhead projector to reveal a transparency as high as an elephant's eye which read, "MATT IS WRONG. EVERYBODY LAUGH AT MATT."
That last part may have only happened in my mind. But there was definitely laughter.
I eagerly re-raised my hand to try and salvage my good name, ready to offer the explanation below, but I decided to quit while I was behind after I caught sight of Steve gravely shaking his head at me from across the classroom.
We can draw from this a number of conclusions:
(1) I'm going to keep quiet in Contracts for a few days.
(2) The legal, social, and economic landscape in 1917 was different from the landscape in 1895, and given the rise of industry and the desire of the judicial system to promote business and economic growth (especially in New York), there's nothing incongruous about a judge changing his mind and signing onto an opinion which will encourage and sanction contractual relationships among businesspeople, and if you're going to make a broad prediction about a given judge's likely opinion you should take that into account, or at least look to see if he actually did what you think he would have done.
(3) As soon as we invent time travel I'm going to go straight to 1917 and punch Judge Andrews directly in the head.
(4) I still can't draw very well.