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.

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.

February 19, 2016

Chief Judge Diane Wood presents "Making Your Voice Heard" and speaks on issues related to women's professional development and the difficulties they face. 

Judge Diane Wood is the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and a senior lecturer here at the Law School. She earned her B.A. in 1971 and J.D. in 1975 from the University of Texas at Austin, and went on to clerk for Judge Irving L. Goldberg of the Fifth Circuit and for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court. After spending time in private practice and in government, she began teaching, first at Georgetown University Law Center, and ultimately at The University of Chicago Law School, where she was the third woman to join the faculty. She was nominated to the Seventh Circuit by President Bill Clinton in 1995, and became Chief Judge on Oct. 1, 2013. She is the second woman to serve on the Seventh Circuit and the first woman to serve as Chief Judge of the Seventh Circuit.

This program was presented on January 14, 2016, by Law Women's Caucus, and sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Students as part of Diversity Month.

January 22, 2016

Suppose a court holds in the context of a habeas petition that a constitutional right is not yet “clearly established.”  Can we conclude from this that the right does not exist?  The answer, of course, is “no”—it would be error to treat this case as having held that there is no such right.  Yet in case after case, across multiple areas of law, judges (and their clerks) make precisely these types of “deference mistakes”: they rely on precedent without understanding the standard of review or burden of proof that governed that precedent.  That includes the particular mistake described here: courts regularly rely on precedents holding that a constitutional right was not “clearly established” to conclude that the right does not exist.  Nor is the problem confined to individual cases.  Deference mistakes can propagate over time, leading to systematic shifts in legal doctrine.

Jonathan Masur is the John P. Wilson Professor of Law, David and Celia Hilliard Research Scholar, and Director of the Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz Program in Behavioral Law, Finance and Economics.

Presented on January 12, 2016, as part of the Chicago’s Best Ideas lecture series.

December 31, 2015

Keynote address for the University of Chicago Law School Legal Forum Symposium 2015: Policing the Police

First published in 1985, the University of Chicago Legal Forum is the Law School’s second-oldest journal. The Legal Forum is a student-edited journal that focuses on a single cutting-edge legal issue every year, presenting an authoritative and timely approach to a particular topic.

Tracey L. Meares is the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale Law School

Recorded on November 6, 2015.

Also see the C-SPAN coverage:

December 9, 2015

"Standing Up for Marriage Equality: Insights from the Obergefell Supreme Court Arguments"

Doug Hallward-Driemeier leads Ropes & Gray’s Appellate and Supreme Court practice. He has presented more than 60 appellate arguments, including before the U.S. Supreme Court and every federal circuit court of appeals. In the 2014-2015 Supreme Court Term, he argued two cases, including the landmark Obergefell case.

Daniel Hemel’s research focuses on taxation, risk regulation, and innovation law. His current projects examine the taxation of risk-based returns; the application of cost-benefit analysis to tax administration; and the role of international law in providing innovation incentives.  As an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School, he teaches tax, administrative law, and torts.

This event was organized by the Office of the Dean of Students and sponsored by OutLaw. It was recorded on November 4, 2015.

December 3, 2015

Human Dignity has become a central value in political and constitutional thought. Yet its meaning and scope, and its relation to other moral and political values such as autonomy and rights have been elusive. The lecture will explicate the value of Human Dignity through the exploration of three distinct ways in which dignity is violated.

Moshe Halbertal is the Gruss Professor of Law at NYU and Professor of Philosophy Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

The 2015 Dewey Lecture was recorded on November 11 at the University of Chicago Law School.

November 17, 2015

It's birth control's fiftieth birthday! Professor Case will be discussing what Griswold—the landmark case that began the process of invalidating legal prohibitions on the use of birth control—looks like in the aftermath of Hobby Lobby and Obergefell.

Mary Anne Case is the Arnold I. Shure Professor of Law and convener of the Workshop on Regulating Family, Sex and Gender.

Presented by the Law Students for Reproductive Justice and the American Constitution Society on November 11, 2015.

November 10, 2015


  • Don Harmon, JD’95, Illinois State Senator
  • Dan Johnson, JD’00, Progressive Public Affairs
  • Blake Sercye, JD'11, Associate, Jenner & Block
  • Nicholas Stephanopoulos, Assistant Professor of Law

Hosted by the University of Chicago Law School’s Regional Alumni Committee at Skadden Arps in Chicago. Recorded October 13, 2015.

November 5, 2015

Lawmakers respond to constituents, seek higher office, have lofty goals, and even learn from their mistakes. But do they actually make the world a better place? In this lecture, the first of this year’s Chicago’s Best Ideas series, Professor Levmore examines some aspects of lawmaking that do not make their way into the law school curriculum. First, lawmakers may be forward-looking, but they have tools that are backward looking, or retroactive, and this combination can help us understand why some lawmaking is quite durable, while some of it falls apart both physically (like crumbling bridges) and conceptually (like conventional views about sex and marriage). Second, lawmakers might be rewarded when they innovate successfully, but they are penalized harshly for making changes that backfire. This trade-off helps us understand where we do or do not observe experiments and progress, ranging from Uber to health-care.

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

This Chicago's Best Ideas lecture was recorded on October 13, 2015.