Geof Stone Elected to Prestigious American Philosophical Society

Geof Stone Elected to Prestigious American Philosophical Society
Law School Office of Communications
April 29, 2010

The University of Chicago Law School proudly congratulates Professor Geoffrey R. Stone for his election to the American Philosophical Society, making him one of only twelve living law professors who serve as members.

Stone, the Edward Levi Distinguished Service Professor, was praised by nominators for his cutting-edge insights into freedom of speech issues. He was elected to the APS Society at its April meeting.

"Geoffrey Stone is one of the nation's leading scholars and most influential voices on civil rights and civil liberties, with particular expertise on freedom of speech.  His early work explicated familiar but little-analyzed legal distinctions between laws that regulate speech for reason of its content and laws that incidentally affect speech while regulating other things," according to the election essay.

"It's a terrific honor to be in the company of such University of Chicago greats as Hanna Gray, Gary Becker, Jim Cronin, Phil Gossett, and Janet Rowley," Stone said. "The American Philosophical Society is a wonderful organization that for more than 250 years has generated original debate, discourse, and investigation."

Stone, a 1971 Law School graduate who joined the faculty two years later, served as Dean of the Law School from 1987 to 1993 and later as Provost of the University of Chicago from 1993 to 2002. He returned to First Amendment scholarship after his tenure as Provost. His APS nominator praised Stone's award-winning 2004 book Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism, his coauthored casebook on constitutional law, and his frequent op-ed contributions.

"Stone has a gift for elucidating seemingly intractable legal controversies, from government secrecy to gay marriage," the nominator wrote.

The American Philosophical Society was founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin. It is respected for its diverse membership and multi-disciplinary examination of issues. As of April, the APS had 1,001 members-833 members in the United States and 168 international members representing more than two dozen countries. Members are organized into five classes: mathematical and physical sciences; biological sciences; social sciences; humanities; and the arts, professions, and leaders in public and private affairs.

"Organizations like the American Philosophical Society are especially able to break down the boundaries of the disciplines," Stone said. "This produces greater insight and understanding than would be possible in more traditional forms of disciplinary deliberation."

Stone is one of three Law School faculty members who have been elected to the APS. Like Stone, former Law School Dean Edward Levi was elected in 1978 to the social sciences division, while Martha Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, was elected in the humanities division in 1995. Of the 12 living law professors in the APS, five, including Stone, have served at one time on the Chicago Law faculty. The others are: Gerhard Casper, Larry Kramer, '84, Larry Lessig, and Cass Sunstein.

The American Philosophical Society meets biannually in Philadelphia, where members present papers and symposia drawing from their diverse backgrounds. According to the APS, a typical three-day session might include one symposium on the diffusion of knowledge in the digital age and another on healthcare reform.

"I would love to see the Society focus in the coming years on the issue of courts and their distinctive role in the American constitutional system," Stone said. "There is widespread disagreement and uncertainty about the proper function of courts, and an organization like the American Philosophical Society is well placed to promote a thoughtful, public, and frank debate on this question."

Geoffrey R. Stone