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 17, 2013

The Supreme Court’s decision in the healthcare case has brought new prominence to Congress’s power to tax and spend for the general welfare under Article I, section 8, clause 1. Legislation under the spending power is often regarded as an artifact of the New Deal period. But the spending power has a longer history dating from the early nineteenth century. Between 1815 and 1850, a second generation of American founders grappled with the meaning of the Constitution, struggling to resolve a new and diverse array of questions. Chief among them was the scope of Congress’s power – specifically, its authority to oversee public works projects such as canals, roads, and railroads. Controversy over these “internal improvements” was a key issue in several elections, and presidents from James Madison to James K. Polk clashed with Congress, the states, and the Supreme Court over differing views of federal power in this area. The crucial issue was not so much the modern question, “What can Congress compel the states to do?,” but a distinctly early national question: “What can Congress do in the name of the states?” In answering this question, early-nineteenth-century Americans looked to factors such as state consent and distinguished among the appropriation of funds, the actual construction of internal improvements, and subsequent jurisdiction over those projects – factors that modern Supreme Court case law suggests are largely irrelevant to settling federalism disputes. The text of Article I and the Tenth Amendment have not changed since the founding, but this talk will explore the ways in which the universe of constitutional possibility in which they operate has shifted over the past two centuries. Alison LaCroix is Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded as part of the "Chicago's Best Ideas" series on October 24, 2012.

January 3, 2013

In the mid-1930s, the future of judicial review was uncertain.  Politicians, social activists, and even legal academics denounced the federal judiciary’s hostility toward New Deal legislation as a threat to democratic progress and economicrecovery.  In the face of President Roosevelt’s “court-packing plan” and competing proposals to curb judicial power, conservative lawyers sought strategies for restoring popular faith in the federal courts.  Their solution, Professor Weinrib will argue, was to embrace a cause they had long denounced as a front for radical activity: the judicial protection of free speech. Afterdecades of heated clashes, the American Bar Association joined forces with its long-time adversary, the American Civil Liberties Union, to celebrate the First Amendment. In a self-conscious attempt to improve its public image, it recast the federal judiciary as a defender of personal liberties as well as economic rights.  The new civil liberties consensus produced an unprecedented but durable commitment to a constitutional and counter-majoritarian theory of free speech. Laura Weinrib is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This Chicago's Best Ideas talk was recorded on November 7, 2012.

December 13, 2012

William J. Brodsky is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CBOE Holdings, Inc. and the Chicago Board Options Exchange. As Chairman and CEO of CBOE since 1997, Brodsky has overseen a period of tremendous growth as well as product and technological innovation at the exchange. He serves as the options industry’s leading advocate in shaping market policy and regulation. In October 2008, Brodsky was the first leader of a derivatives exchange to be named as Chairman of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) and served in that capacity for 2009 and 2010. He previously served as Vice Chairman of the WFE from 2007 to 2008.

Brodsky began his career as an attorney in the securities industry with the firm of Model, Roland and Company in 1968. In 1974, he joined the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) where he became head of options trading in 1976 and served as Executive Vice President for operations between 1979 and 1982. He also served for seven years as the AMEX representative on the board of The Options Clearing Corporation.

He serves on the Kellogg School of Management Advisory Council and as a trustee of Syracuse University. Brodsky holds an A.B. degree and a J.D. degree from Syracuse University and is a member of the Bar in Illinois and New York.

This event was recorded on November 14, 2012. Mr. Brodsky was introduced by Dean Schill.

November 29, 2012

What can law do well? It tries to “intervene” in order to control antisocial behavior, to enforce promises, and to prevent violence. But it is also called on to “intermediate” so that citizens need not confront one another directly and need not even control themselves. It solves collective action problems, to be sure, but in many cases these problems are small compared to the quest for control over one’s future self. If we can identify what it is we want law to do, rather than how we market its ever-expanding reach, we might be better at designing laws. In such diverse areas as climate change, obesity control, and neighborly (tort) disputes, this CBI Lecture aims to show that some of the most important tools of legal analysis suggest changes in law and new ways of thinking about the expanding regulatory state. This Chicago's Best Ideas talk was recorded October 9, 2012. Saul Levmore is William B. Graham Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.

November 15, 2012

From the scores of briefs to the extended oral arguments to the widely watched announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision in June, the case of National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius – more commonly known as the healthcare case – has received unprecedented attention from the media, politicians, and the general public.  In upholding most provisions of the legislation under Congress’s taxing power but striking down a key section as beyond the scope of the spending power, the Court’s decision has been viewed by commentators as, variously, a return to meaningful limits on Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce, a repudiation of the New Deal constitutional settlement, an affirmation of that settlement, and an act of judicial statesmanship by Chief Justice John Roberts.  But just how significant of a change does the decision portend – in institutions, doctrine, and federalism itself?  The talk will situate the healthcare decision in constitutional history, consider trends in the Court’s federalism case law, and speculate about the future direction of the doctrine. This talk was recorded on October 1, 2012.

November 1, 2012

In 2010 and 2011 Professors Saul Levmore and Martha Nussbaum gave several talks about the book, The Offensive Internet, a collection of essays about apparent abuses of anonymity and freedom from liability on the Internet. While those topics remain relevant, and Internet providers continue to have unusual immunity, the situation is complicated by the ubiquity of smartphones, apps, and cameras that intrude, to be sure, but also inform and monitor. The focus may have moved from the Offensive Internet to the Intrusive Internet. Should we celebrate new technologies in this regard, and be prepared to live with some offense and intrusion, or ought we be anxious and prepared to regulate?

This talk was recorded May 4, 2012 at the University's annual Loop Luncheon.

October 18, 2012

The 2012 Fulton Lecture in Legal History was given on May 2, 2012 by James C. Oldham, St. Thomas More Professor of Law and Legal History at Georgetown Law.

October 4, 2012

Geoffrey Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor and former dean (’93–’02) at the University of Chicago Law School, discusses the role of freedom and education in America today. Stone is one of the world’s foremost scholars of the Constitution. His most recent books are Top Secret: When Our Government Keeps Us in the Dark (2007) and War and Liberty: An American Dilemma (2007). His book Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism (2004) received numerous national awards. This event was recorded April 19, 2012 and is part of the University of Chicago Graham School's Great Conversations lecture series and is cosponsored by the Civic Knowledge Project.

September 20, 2012

Schools teach patriotism all the time, but many people think that this is a bad idea. Patriotic rituals may convey misplaced and hierarchical values; they may coerce conscience; and they may promote a dangerous type of uncritical homogeneity. On the other hand, it seems difficult to motivate sacrifices of self-interest for the common good without patriotic emotion. Prof. Nussbaum argues that there is a way of negotiating these difficulties and teaching a type of patriotism that is rooted in good values, protective of conscience, and friendly to critical thinking and dissent. Prof. Nussbaum illustrates her argument from the history of the U. S. and India, discussing Lincoln, King, Gandhi, and Nehru. This talk was recorded on April 10, 2012, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series and was sponsored by Winston & Strawn LLP. Martha Nussbaum is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago Law School.

September 6, 2012

A popular type of consumer transaction is called "No Contract." Businesses lure consumers with the "no contract" assurance - a promise that consumer can walk away anytime, without any commitment. This scheme is increasingly common in cable and phone services, health clubs, security services, and other transactions that used to require minimum duration. What is a “No Contract” contract? What does the misnomer “No Contract” intend to signal to consumers? What effects does the “No Contract” arrangement have on other elements of the transaction? What do consumers have to give up in order to enjoy the “No Contract” guarantee? Is it overall good for consumers? In this talk, recorded for the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series on March 27, 2012, Professor Ben-Shahar discussed the place of “No Contracts” in broader context of consumer protection, and his ongoing work on the failings – and the promise – of consumer law.