The Faculty Podcast

Listen to lectures by—and discussions with—the University of Chicago Law School's eminent faculty, as well as some very special guests.

January 5, 2017

One of the great Chicago Ideas is the equivalence of positive and negative incentives. The government can motivate you by rewarding some behavior or by penalizing your failure to behave in the preferred manner. Private parties rarely have the authority to hit you with sticks, so they must usually begin with carrots, or positive inducements, unless law offers torts or other negative inducements in the background. But things quickly get more complicated. Rewards might draw people to an activity, and penalties might cause them to stay away, so that the carrots and sticks are not equivalent. How does law reflect these secondary effects? When is it a good idea to mix positive and negative rewards? Should we pay people not to commit crimes? Why didn’t any lawmakers try to pay people not to enter into same-sex marriages? Why not just impose higher taxes on people who do not engage in public service? This first lecture of the year in our Chicago’s Best Ideas series introduces some of these ideas and then takes them in surprising directions.

Saul Levmore is the William B. Graham Distinguished Service Professor of Law.

December 29, 2016

Jim Zirin graduated from Princeton University with honors and received his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School where he was an editor of the Michigan Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif. For three years, he was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and served in the criminal division under Robert M. Morgenthau.

William Baude is Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, where he teaches federal courts and constitutional law. His current research projects include papers on originalism, historical practice in constitutional law, federalism, the Supreme Court, and conflicts of law.

Presented on November 28, 2016, by the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society.

November 18, 2016

With commentary by Professor William Hubbard.

Michael W. McConnell is the Richard and Frances Mallery Professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, as well as Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is a leading authority on freedom of speech and religion, the relation of individual rights to government structure, originalism, and various other aspects of constitutional history and constitutional law. He is author of numerous articles and co-author of two casebooks: The Constitution of the United States (Foundation Press) and Religion and the Constitution (Aspen). He is co-editor of Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought (Yale Univ. Press). Since 1996, he has been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Presented on November 15, 2016, by the Christian Legal Society, the St. Thomas More Society, and the Federalist Society.

October 4, 2016

In this First Monday event, Law School faculty discuss their insight and opinions on upcoming United States Supreme Court cases and the issues currently facing the Court.


Anthony J. Casey, '02, Professor of Law and Mark Claster Mamolen Teaching Scholar

Nicholas Stephanopoulos, Assistant Professor of Law

David Strauss, the Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law.

Moderated by Sarah M. Konsky, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Jenner & Block Supreme Court and Appellate Clinic.

Introduced by Dean Thomas J. Miles.

July 29, 2016

Professor Tasioulas discusses the notion of the ‘minimum core obligations’ associated with economic, social and cultural human rights, such as the rights to education and health. The idea of minimum core obligations, which is a nascent doctrine in international human rights law, is heavily contested both as to its meaning and utility.

John Tasioulas is Visiting Professor of Law and the Charles J. Merriam Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School; Yeoh Professor of Politics, Philosophy, and Law at the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London; and Director of the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy, and Law.

Presented by the International Human Rights Clinics and the Human Rights Law Society on May 5, 2016.

May 13, 2016

Today, as our capacity to prolong life increases, people dispute whether indefinite prolongation could possibly be good.  A leading bioethicist, Ezekiel Emanuel (brother of Rahm) has written that we should all want to die at 75!  I'll approach this question by drawing on ancient Greek arguments about why immortal life is undesirable -- arguments that I find fatally flawed.  I then turn to two more recent philosophers who try to reconcile us to finite and reasonably short mortal lives: "Younger Martha" (i.e. me in 1994), and my teacher Bernard Williams, who wrote about the "tedium of immortality."  I find those consolatory arguments flawed too.  But a better argument is found in the Roman philosopher Lucretius, and it applies to indefinite prolongation as well as to outright immortality.

Martha Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics.

Presented on April 5, 2016, at the University of Chicago Law School.

May 12, 2016

Michael Kirby was a Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996-2009), the nation's highest appellate and constitutional Court. In 2013-14 he served as chair of the Commission of Inquiry of the UN Human Rights Council investigating crimes against humanity in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). The commission found grave and long-standing crimes against humanity and called for referral of its report to the Security Council of the United Nations. That body has the power to refer matters to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. He warned the Supreme Leader of North Korea that, under international law, he was potentially personally accountable for failing to use his power to prevent and redress such crimes. Although the commission's report was duly sent to the Security Council by the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, so far the Security Council as failed to enliven the jurisdiction of the ICC. In recent weeks, the Council has imposed new and stronger sanctions against North Korea following the conduct of a fourth nuclear weapons test and missile tests. The report of the commission has been widely praised for its powerful description of great wrongs. But how do we move beyond another UN report into effective subjection of this dangerous state and its leadership to compulsory accountability before an international tribunal responding to the deep concerns of humanity? The speaker will outline our dilemma. He will also answer questions and suggest possible future developments.

The Ulysses and Marguerite Schwartz Memorial Lectureship at the University of Chicago Law School is held by a distinguished lawyer or teacher whose experience is in the academic field or practice of public service.

Presented on March 29, 2016, at the University of Chicago Law School.

May 2, 2016

Justin Driver is Harry N. Wyatt Professor of Law and Herbert and Marjorie Fried Research Scholar. His principal research interests include constitutional law, constitutional theory, and the intersection of race with legal institutions. Prior to joining the University of Chicago Law School faculty, Driver was a visiting professor at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Virginia. He began his career in legal academia at the University of Texas in 2009.

This Loop Luncheon was presented on April 29, 2016, as part of reunion weekend.

March 9, 2016

Recent efforts by opponents of same-sex marriage and reproductive rights to reorient their agenda around religious freedom have sparked an explosion of scholarship on religious claims for exemption from generally applicable laws. Professor Weinrib will discuss an early antecedent of this strategy: the campaign by the National Civil Liberties Bureau, the organizational precursor of the ACLU, to secure exemptions from military service for conscientious objectors during the First World War. The conception of liberty of conscience that the ACLU’s founders advanced, which they linked to an “Anglo-Saxon tradition” of individual rights, clashed with Progressive understandings of democratic citizenship and failed to gain broad-based traction. Civil liberties advocates consequently reframed their wartime work in terms that foregrounded democratic dissent rather than individual autonomy. By the Second World War, the new emphasis on expressive freedom had worked its way into American constitutional law. Even then, however, most Americans rejected a court-centered and constitutional right to exemption from generally applicable laws.

Laura Weinrib is Assistant Professor of Law and Herbert and Marjorie Fried Teaching Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School.

This Chicago’s Best Ideas talked was recorded on February 17, 2016.

March 8, 2016

Dhammika Dharmapala is the Julius Kreeger Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.

The 2016 Coase Lecture was presented on February 16, 2016.