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.

September 12, 2013

As Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for three years under the Obama administration, Cass R. Sunstein oversaw a far-reaching restructuring of America's regulatory state. He discusses his book "Simpler: The Future of Government," in which he pulls back the curtain to show what was done, how it works, and why government will never be the same again. This talk was recorded May 14, 2013.

August 15, 2013

Based on media reports, it appears that sexual violence against women is increasing around the world, particularly in India and Egypt. Are the rates increasing or just the reporting of the crimes?  Governments and advocates around the world have been working on eradicating gender-based violence, including domestic violence and violence in prisons, for decades.  What are the challenges and successes that remain?  Professor Manjoo is an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme.  As part of her work, Professor Manjoo conducts official missions to countries to investigate and issues recommendations to countries in an effort to address violence against women.   Since her mandate began in 2009, she has conducted missions to India, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Jordan, Zambia, the United States of America, El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan, Algeria, and Italy. This talk was recorded on May 14, 2013.

August 1, 2013

There has been an increase in the rate of women’s imprisonment in many countries around the world.  Yet many countries fail to adequately address the unique issues raised when women are deprived of their liberty.  The panelists will discuss the causes of the increase in rates of imprisonment, including the global war on drugs and drug use.  They will also address the conditions of women’s imprisonment, such as lack of gender-specific healthcare, shackling during childbirth, and sexual violence in prisons.   The increase in women's imprisonment impacts children and families.  To address this, some countries such as Argentina have prisons where children up to 4 years old can live with their mothers.  What are the benefits and challenges of this? What are the alternatives to this?  The panel will discuss issues relating to women’s imprisonment from an international and comparative perspective.  What can countries learn from each other’s practices?  To what extent are the Bangkok Rules recently adopted by the UN being implemented in women's prisons around the world?  The findings and recommendations from the human rights clinics' research on Argentina will also be discussed.  

Moderator:  Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences


  • Mikhail Golichenko, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
  • Andrea Huber, Policy Director, Penal Reform International (London)
  • Sital Kalantry, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the International Human Rights Clinic, University of Chicago Law School
  • Silvia Martinez, Director of the Prison Commission of the Public Defender’s Office in Argentina, Argentina,
  • Gail Smith, Founder and Senior Policy Director, Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers

Student speakers:

  • Jullia Park, J.D. Candidate, 2014, University of Chicago Law School
  • Jamie Stinson, J.D. Candidate 2014, Cornell Law School

This event was recorded on May 14, 2013.

July 18, 2013

Civil war is like pornography--we think know it when we see it. Yet ideas of civil war have a long and contested history with multiple meanings and contested applications. This lecture offers a critical history of conceptions of civil war, with special attention to its legal definition since the nineteenth century. The application of the term “civil war” can depend on whether you are a ruler or a rebel, the victor or the vanquished, an established government or an interested third party. It can also determine whether outside powers intervene, which provisions of international humanitarian laws, and what international aid bodies like the World Bank are willing to invest in war-torn countries. Conflict over its meaning, as well as the meaning of conflict, demand historical reconstruction to illuminate contemporary confusions about civil war.

David Armitage is is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History at Harvard University. This talk, the 2013 Fulton Lecture in Legal History, was recorded May 9, 2013.

July 8, 2013

Constitutions are quintessentially national documents, expressing the fundamental values of a sovereign people. They are traditionally interpreted and enforced by local constitutional courts. Yet increasingly constitutions must be understood in a transnational environment: they are produced with the help of international actors; they are interpreted by international bodies and foreign states; and they are even enforced from abroad on occasion. In this context, a particularly interesting development is a recent proposal by the President of Tunisia to establish a formal international court to adjudicate constitutional issues. The talk will consider this proposal.

Tom Ginsburg is Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar, and Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. This talk was recorded on May 8, 2013, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

June 20, 2013

When President Gerald Ford nominated Edward Levi to be the Attorney General, Levi took over an office that had been marred by the corruption of the Watergate scandal. Levi's efforts to bring transparency, independence and integrity back to the Justice Department restored public confidence at a pivotal stage in U.S. history. To mark the publication of the new book, "Restoring Justice: The Speeches of Attorney General Edward H. Levi" by Jack Fuller, a distinguished panel joins us to discuss his impact on the office and its evolution. Formal remarks by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder are followed by a panel discussion that included John Ashcroft, '67, former U.S. Attorney General, former U.S. Senator (R-MO), Jack Fuller, author of "Restoring Justice: The Speeches of Attorney General Edward Levi" and former special assistant, U.S. Department of Justice, 1975-76, and Geoffrey Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago Law School. IOP Director David Axelrod and Law School Dean Michael Schill provided introductory remarks.

This event was recorded on April 30, 2013 and sponsored by the Institute of Politics and the Law School.

June 6, 2013

The Constitution’s amendment rule in Article V renders the text inflexible, countermajoritarian, and insensitive to important contemporary constituencies. Comparative empirical studies show that textual rigidity is not only rare in other countries’ organic documents but highly correlated with constitutional failure. To promote our Constitution’s survival and to counteract Article V’s ‘dead hand’ effect, commentators argue, Americans have turned to informal amendment through the courts or ‘super’ statutes. Article V, the conventional wisdom goes, is a dead letter.

This CBI talk explains why the conventional wisdom moves too fast. Article V has played an important but hitherto unrecognized function in the early Republic, mitigating strategic behavior and inducing investment in new institutions such as political parties and financial infrastructure. Recognition of Article V’s amplitudinous role in the early Republic leads to a more nuanced view of the Constitution’s amendatory regime. In effect, we have a two-speed Constitution—with Article V-induced rigidity at the inception supplemented gradually over time by informal judicial or statutory amendment protocols.

This event was recorded April 23, 2013, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series. Aziz Huq is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.

May 23, 2013

Todd Henderson is Professor of Law and Aaron Director Teaching Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded on May 3, 2013, at the annual Loop Luncheon held in conjuction with Reunion.

May 9, 2013

Rate regulation today is often conceived of as an exotic topic of interest only to a select group of pointy-headed specialists. But the truth is quite the opposite.  The history of rate regulation raises some of the most fundamental challenges to the organization of a free society. This lecture will trace the evolution of the doctrine from its common law origins in Sir Matthew Hale's seventeenth century treatise, De Portis Maris (Of the Gates of the Sea) through its incorporation into American Constitutional Law to the major synthesis of rate regulation in the 1944 decision in Hope Natural Gas v. Federal Power Commission. On the one side lies the need to constrain monopoly profits; on the other lies the need to prevent confiscation of the the invested capital of the regulated industry.  The effort to achieve those twin goals gives rises to procedural and substantive challenges that in one guise or another are with us today.

Richard Epstein is James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Law and Senior Lecturer. This talk was recorded on April 9, 2013, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

April 25, 2013

Justice Albie Sachs of the Constitutional Court of South Africa discussed the Fourie case, gay rights, and the same-sex marriage decision in South Africa. This lecture was recorded on April 9, 2013.