Choice of Law: A Well-Watered Plateau
Law & Contemporary Problems
American decisional law on choice of law in conflicts cases has arrived at a level of stability, perhaps unsteady and impermanent yet very real, the like of which has not existed in the area for many years. It is a stability to be found in the opinions of appellate courts, not in the law reviews. Academic writing still stirs the ashes of recent controversy and fresh thinkers propose new approaches that might re-revolutionize the law. That is the privilege and the function of active legal minds.
... But most courts deciding choice-of-law cases have now settled down on a sort of policy plateau which is well above the level of Bealian conceptualism and which, though watered by the life-giving insights of American conflicts scholars among whom David F. Cavers stands out pre-eminently, does not conform in its features to the maps previously publicized by any one of them. Analysis of opinions handed down within the last year reveals no truly new developments, no changes in the terrain but rather a smoothing over of the plateau's surface. There are still states that repeat the old mechanical rules, 1 but there are fewer of them. Most of the current cases follow a pattern of multiple citation, seldom relying solely upon any single modern choice-oflaw theory, but combining two or more of the theories to produce results which, interestingly, can be sustained under any or nearly all of the new non-mechanical approaches to conflicts law. There are fewer choice-of-law cases reported in the advance sheets nowa-* Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Arkansas; Professor of Law, New York University. Author, AMERICAN CONFLICTS LAW (3d ed. 1977).