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.

July 1, 2010

Our nation has undeniably made great progress toward fulfilling the promise of equal opportunity and equal justice.  But our remarkable achievements are milestones along the path rather than the culmination of our journey.  Discrimination and bigotry persist in blatant forms - burned crosses, burned churches, hate-fueled assaults - and in subtle, yet equally devastating, forms.  We see it in our education system, where many children still go to substandard schools. We see it in the foreclosure crisis, where communities of color were all too frequently preyed upon by lenders who used the corrosive power of fine print to transform the American dream into a nightmare.  We see it in the workplace, where glass ceilings continue to shatter opportunities despite great gains.  In 2010, the Civil Rights Division is working to tackle both the longstanding challenges to equality, and the emerging issues that stand in the way of fulfilling our nation's greatest promise.Thomas E. Perez is Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Dept. of Justice. This talk was recorded April 22, 2010 and was sponsored by the Law School.

June 17, 2010

Most of what we think about as "law" involves a background rule that conduct is legal with an exception for what lawmakers define as illegal. But there are several other ways in which law is made. The most obvious is the concept of a "safe harbor," where the background rule is that conduct is illegal with an exception for what lawmakers define as legal. In this lecture, Professor Henderson will discuss the choice between these alternatives, and introduce two new types of law: unsafe and super-safe harbors. The lecture will show their application in areas ranging from criminal law to securities law to intellectual property. M. Todd Henderson is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, and a 1998 graduate of the Law School. This talk was recorded on May 1, 2010 at the Law School's Reunion, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas Series.

June 3, 2010

In 1972-73, Geoffrey Stone served as a law clerk to Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. The 1972 Term was an eventful one for the Supreme Court, resulting in landmark decisions in such areas as obscenity, equal protection, abortion, and criminal procedure. Moreover, the 1972 Term marked a critical transition from the "liberal" era of the Warren Court to a new era, which has now lasted for almost forty years, in which the Court has been dominated by increasingly "conservative" justices. Professor Stone will discuss his experiences and insights during the Court's 1972 Term. Geoffrey R. Stone is Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded April 20, 2010 as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

May 6, 2010

The recent health care bill represents what is likely to turn out to be the most comprehensive health care reform ever, Medicare included. Yet many of its provisions were included in the last minute without serious discussion or debate. And those provisions that have been in all versions of the bill since the outset are likely to have profound, if unintended consequences. In this talk, Professor Epstein will explain why he thinks that the combined weight of these many programs is likely to produce a major implosion in health care services in both the short and the long run. Richard Epstein is James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded April 8, 2010 as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

April 22, 2010

The University of Chicago Law School is proud to welcome Gary Haugen '91 for the 2010 Ulysses and Marguerite Schwartz Memorial Lecture. The Schwartz Lectureship is held by a distinguished lawyer or teacher whose experience is in the academic field or practice of public service. Haugen is President and CEO of International Justice Mission, a human rights organization with operations in 12 countries. Haugen's lecture, entitled "A New Mandate for Human Rights: Why a Half Century of Human Rights Activism and International Development is Failing the Poor, and What Can Be Done about It," probes why significant contributions by the international development and modern human rights movements have failed to establish a platform of basic rule of law in the developing world. This lecture was recorded February 18, 2010.

April 8, 2010

International agencies used to measure the quality of life in a nation simply by looking at GDP per capita. Recently that approach has been challenged by an approach that focuses on people's "capabilities": what they are actually able to do and be, their substantial freedoms, in some central areas of life. As one of the architects of that approach, Nussbaum will discuss its origins and structure, and the arguments for and against it. Martha Nussbaum is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded March 2, 2010 as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas series.

March 25, 2010

Art. V of the Constitution makes the formal process of constitutional amendment extremely difficult - in fact far too difficult according to most constitutional scholars. But does it matter? And if so, what can we do about it? Amending Art V seems near impossible...and the idea, advanced by some Yale law professors, that we should be free to amend the Constitution via a national referendum seems equally implausible (not to mention undesirable). Professor Dixon therefore proposes a new solution to the problem: that the Supreme Court should treat failed amendments supported by a Congressional majority as "partial" constitutional amendments.

Rosalind Dixon is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded Feb. 16, 2010 as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas Series.

March 11, 2010

The 2010 Coase Lecture in Law and Economics was presented by Assistant Professor of Law Jacob Gersen. Entitled "Political Economy of Public Law," the lecture focused on economic analysis of political institutions, mainly separation of powers problems and different strategies for allocating government power in constitutional theory. It was recorded on February 10, 2010.

February 25, 2010

The subject of this year's Dewey Lecture is the political morality and wisdom of putting political leaders on trial after we have endured their leadership (and other nations, perhaps, have endured their crimes). Political trials have a long history-and the judgments we make of their judgments are highly contested. Professor Walzer will try to suggest a comparative politics of political trials; they have a very different character, and very different purposes, in different national and international settings. And, like all trials, their justice and wisdom hang on their character and purpose.

Michael Walzer is Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey.

This Dewey Lecture in Law and Philosophy was recorded January 20, 2010.

February 11, 2010

The law has always treated children differently, and these differences in treatment are largely attributed to differences in capacity. Children lack the decision making ability and the self-control of adults, the cases and commentary explains, and therefore should be given less control over their own lives, and blamed less severely for their offenses. For much of the 20th century, these developmental arguments were grounded in life experience and conventional wisdom. More recently, however, developmental psychologists and legal scholars have joined forces to argue for legal rights and responsibilities that more accurately and consistently reflect psychological (and, most recently, neuroscientific) research about how children change as they grow up. This heavy reliance on developmental science was embraced by the Supreme Court in Roper v. Simmons, the 2005 case ruling that the Constitution prohibited the imposition of the death penalty for offenses committed by juveniles. While the Roper analysis can be applauded for its careful attention to social scientists' increasingly sophisticated understanding of children's capacities, it also demonstrates certain risks that come with this inter-disciplinary approach. In her talk, Buss will consider these risks, and suggest an approach to the formulation of children's rights that rests less on our current understanding of children's capacities and more on the role we want the law to play in shaping how children grow up.

Emily Buss is Mark and Barbara Fried Professor of Law and Kanter Director of Policy Initiatives at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded January 25, 2010 as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas series.