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.

May 28, 2015

For over twenty-five years, federal courts of appeals have rebelled against every Supreme Court mandate that weakens the federal sentencing Guidelines. That rebellion has intensified since the Court dealt a blow to the Guidelines a decade ago by making them advisory, rather than mandatory. This ruling dramatically limited the courts of appeals’ authority to reverse district court sentences that deviate from the Guidelines. Rather than accepting this limitation on their power, the courts of appeals fought against it by overpolicing sentences that deviated from the Guidelines and underpolicing sentences that fell within the Guidelines. The Supreme Court has responded to these mutinies with stinging reversals that emphasize the district courts’ significant discretion and the advisory nature of the Guidelines. This talk discusses these ongoing battles between the courts of appeals and the Supreme Court, including a new revolt the courts of appeals are staging that violates not only Supreme Court precedent, but the federal sentencing statute and the Constitution as well. Because the courts of appeals are unlikely to back down, Professor Siegler calls on the Supreme Court to step in and stop this latest rebellion.

Alison Siegler is Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School.

Recorded on April 13, 2015, as part of the Chicago’s Best Ideas lecture series.

May 7, 2015

A Kreisman Housing Breakfast Series event, co-sponsored by the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago and the Coase-Sandor Institute for Law and Economics.

Led by University of Chicago environmental lawyer Mark Templeton, an expert panel will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different public and private approaches for addressing the impacts of climate change on infrastructure and housing.

Featuring panelists: -

  • Henry Henderson, Midwest Director, Natural Resource Defense Council
  • Bill Abolt, Vice President, AECOM
  • Omri Ben-Shahar, Leo and Eileen Herzel Professor of Law and Kearney Director of the Coase-Sandor Institute for Law and Economics

In conversation with Mark Templeton, Associate Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic.

Recorded on April 21, 2015.

May 4, 2015

Why does police accountability matter in this context? How does the knowledge that severe abuses—brutality, sexual assault, false arrest, even death—have gone unpunished inform and shape encounters between youth and police? What are the costs and harms of the absence of accountability? How does the lack of accountability affect the relationships between youth and police? How does it impact our effectiveness in addressing crime and violence? How could improved transparency and accountability affect youth/police relations?

  • Cathy Cohen, David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
  • Craig Futterman, Clinical Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School
  • Delores Jones-Brown, Professor of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • Chris King, Managing Editor, The St. Louis American
  • Moderator: Jamie Kalven, Invisible Institute

This panel discussion was recorded at the Youth/Police Conference at the University of Chicago Law School in April 2015.

April 6, 2015

The Supreme Court's federalism battleground has recently shifted from the Commerce Clause to two textually marginal but substantively important domains: the Necessary and Proper Clause and, to a lesser extent, the General Welfare Clause. For nearly a decade, these quieter, more structurally ambiguous federal powers – the “shadow powers” – have steadily increased in prominence. Paradoxically, the growth of shadow powers analysis has tended to narrow the permissible scope of congressional regulatory power. The invocation of the shadow powers has helped the Court find room to maneuver within its federalism analysis, while also appearing to maintain its commitment to an apparently unmoving baseline of a narrow commerce power. This maneuvering might be productive if it were carried out explicitly, with some discussion by the Court of the reasons for preferring to adjudicate federalism at its doctrinal and textual periphery rather than at its center. But the result of the growth of shadow powers analysis has in fact been to obscure the outlines of federalism’s map.

Alison LaCroix is Professor of Law and Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Teaching Scholar at the Law School. She is also an associate member of the University of Chicago Department of History. LaCroix received her BA summa cum laude in history from Yale University in 1996 and her JD from Yale Law School in 1999. She received her PhD in history from Harvard University in 2007 after earning an AM in history from Harvard in 2003. While in law school, LaCroix served as essays editor of the Yale Law Journal and managing editor of the Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities. From 1999 to 2001, she practiced in the litigation department at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York. Before joining the Law School faculty in 2006, she was a Samuel I. Golieb Fellow in Legal History at New York University School of Law.

This talk was recorded on January 28, 2015, as part of the Chicago’s Best Ideas lecture series.

March 16, 2015

At her confirmation hearing, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan said that "we are all originalists." Is that true, and what would it mean for it to be true? In Is Originalism Our Law?, I argue that there is an important sense in which Justice Kagan was right. And if originalism is our law, it provides a new and better explanation for why judges today are bound to follow the decisions of the framers.

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. His recent publications include "Rethinking the Federal Eminent Domain Power," and "Beyond DOMA: State Choice of Law in Federal Statutes." He also contributes to two legal blogs, the Volokh Conspiracy and SCOTUSBlog.

This lecture was recorded on February 13, 2015, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

March 3, 2015

This panel was moderated by Professor Siegler and included Deputy Dean Ginsburg and Professors Huq, McAdams, and Randolph Stone.

The event took place on February 4, 2015. It was presented by BLSA in partnership with the Law School and cosponsored by ACS, APALSA, Criminal Law Society, Defenders, Human Rights Law Society, LLSA, LSRJ, LWC, PILS, and SALSA.

February 11, 2015

In a conversation with David A. Strauss, Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law, US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan reflects on decision-making, persuasion, and hunting with Scalia.

This event took place on February 2, 2015, at the University of Chicago Law School.

February 4, 2015

A panel discussion with John Relman, Jeff Leslie, Lee Fennell, and Tara Ramchandani

As part of the Law School's Diversity Month, the panelists discuss the pending Supreme Court Case, "Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project."

Presented on January 21, 2015, by ACS, ACLU, BLSA and APALSA with the Kreisman Initiative on Housing Law and Policy.

January 29, 2015

Martha Minow, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law, Harvard Law School,with comments by Martha Nussbaum, Aziz Huq, and Michael Schill.

What role if any should forgiveness play in law and legal systems? By forgiveness, I mean: a conscious, deliberate decision to forgo rightful grounds for whoever has committed a wrong or harm. Law may penalize those who apologize and in so doing make forgiveness by the victim less likely. Law may construct adversarial processes that render forgiveness less likely than it would otherwise be. Or law can give people chances to meet together, in spaces where they may apologize and forgive.

This lecture was presented on January 8, 2015, at the University of Chicago Law School as part of the Brennan Center Jorde Symposium.

January 8, 2015

Although people sometimes violate the law, there is more legal compliance than we can explain by ordinary economic theory – that legal sanctions deter noncompliance. In some domains of international law and constitutional law, there is no credible threat of legal sanctions, yet there is compliance. In some historic examples, “courts” lacking any sanctioning power resolved disputes arising in medieval Iceland, among 18th century pirates, and among 19th century gold-rushers. Professor McAdams explains these and other historic and contemporary examples of compliance by focusing attention on law’s expressive power. First, legal expression provides a salient means of coordinating behavior. Second, law reveals information about risks and attitudes. These two expressive powers are distinct from law’s coercive power.

Richard H. McAdams is Bernard D. Meltzer Professor of Law and Aaron Director Research Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded on January 6, 2015, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.