Jurisprudence and Legal Theory Courses

The courses listed below provide a taste of the Jurisprudence and Legal Theory courses offered at the Law School, although no formal groupings exist in our curriculum. This list includes the courses taught in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. Not all of these courses are offered every year, but this list will give you a representative sample of the variety of courses we might offer over any two-year period. Other new courses will likely be offered during your time at the Law School.

PLEASE NOTE: This page does not include courses for the current academic year. To browse current course offerings, visit my.UChicago.

Advanced Topics in Moral, Political, and Legal Philosophy:  Nietzsche on Morality, Suffering, and the Value of Life

Winter 2019, Michael N. Forster and Brian Leiter

Nietzsche objects to Judeo-Christian morality (and its 'ascetic' analogues in non-Western traditions) because he argues it is a fatal obstacle to certain kinds of human flourishing and cultural excellence. This is closely connected to his opposition to Schopenhauer's pessimistic view that the inescapable fact of suffering renders life without value (a life without human excellence would, on Nietzsche's view, lack value). These issues (and others, e.g., the nature of philosophy and tragedy, the conception of Dionysus) have antecedents in his early work as a scholar of antiquity and the influence of his Basel colleague, the important historian Jacob Burckhardt. Roughly the first five sessions will be devoted to reconstructing the "mature" Nietzsche's view, as represented by the Genealogy, but also excerpts from Daybreak, Beyond Good and Evil, Twilight of the Idols, and Ecce Homo. The remaining four sessions of the seminar will explore the historical background, in Greek literature and philosophy, the reception of Greek culture in German philosophy, and in the seminal work of his colleague Burckhardt. The ultimate goal is to reconstruct Nietzsche's view from a philosophical point of view and, as importantly, in light of the historical context. Open to philosophy PhD students without permission and to others with permission; those seeking permission should e-mail Leiter with a resume and a detailed description of their background in philosophy (not necessarily in the study of Nietzsche). In the event of demand, preference will be given to J.D. students with the requisite philosophy background. (I) and (III) M. Forster; B. LeiterThis class requires a major paper of 20-25 pages.

Behavioral Law and Economics

Spring 2019, Jonathan Masur

This seminar will explore a set of frontier issues at the intersection of law and human behavior, including people's conduct under risk and uncertainty; the commitment to fairness; social influences and peer pressure; extremism; adaptation; happiness; discrimination; and judicial behavior. Some discussion will be devoted to the uses and limits of paternalism. Grades will be based on class participation and a series of short papers of 20-25 pages.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Jonathan Masur
  • Autumn 2018, Jonathan Masur

Canonical Ideas in American Legal Thought

Spring 2019, Thomas Ginsburg, Aziz Huq, and Thomas J. Miles

This year-long research seminar is the equivalent of a research colloquium in a PhD program. During the Autumn quarter, students will read, discuss, and critique some of the most influential law review articles and other forms of legal writing from the past 150 years. The readings will consist of a mix of public law and private law, and various scholarly methodologies, including critical race theory, law and economics, and the legal process school. Students will have short research and writing assignments on the readings. Students will also work with faculty to identify a topic for a substantial research paper. During the Winter quarter, the seminar will not meet in formal sessions, but each student will work on his or her research paper and will meet individually with the instructors to assess the paper's progress. During the Spring quarter, the seminar will reconvene, and students will workshop their drafts (i.e., each student will circulate his or her draft in advance and answer questions from students and faculty). Students will receive an Autumn quarter grade based on their short writing assignments, discussion facilitation, and class participation. Students will receive a separate grade for the Winter and Spring quarters based on the quality of their research papers and class participation. Every student must enroll for the entire year; students may not drop the class after the Autumn quarter. Students may only enroll with the permission of the instructors. Students interested in enrolling should email Professors Ginsburg and Huq a resume and a one-paragraph statement explaining why they would like to enroll in the seminar no later than midnight on August 31, 2018. Credits for this workshop: Autumn quarter: 3Winter quarter: 2Spring quarter 2

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, William Hubbard and Nicholas Stephanopoulos
  • Winter 2018, William Hubbard and Nicholas Stephanopoulos
  • Spring 2018, William Hubbard and Nicholas Stephanopoulos
  • Autumn 2018, Thomas Ginsburg, Aziz Huq, and Thomas J. Miles
  • Winter 2019, Thomas Ginsburg, Aziz Huq, and Thomas J. Miles

City Policing

Winter 2018, Richard McAdams

This seminar will focus on policing and police reform in large American cities, especially Chicago. We will examine the history of the Chicago Police Department and other large city police departments; recent crime levels in Chicago and other cities; municipal practices regarding hiring, training, unionizing, and deployment of police, including community policing; stop and frisk practices; police shootings and other uses of force; citizen complaints and internal discipline; Fourth Amendment doctrine relevant to policing use of force; and institutional mechanisms of accountability. Students will write a series of reaction memos and carry on a discussion regarding the readings and make a brief presentation about a suggestion for reform in one of the last classes. The grade will be based on the memos, the discussion, and the presentation. Students may qualify for an additional credit hour by writing a substantial paper.

Comparative Legal Institutions

Spring 2019, Thomas Ginsburg

This course is designed to examine a range of legal institutions from a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective. It is not a traditional course in comparative law, in that it focuses not so much on particular rules of substantive law but on the structure of different legal systems and the consequences of those structural differences for law and society. In particular, we will focus on the economic impact of legal traditions. Readings will be drawn from legal and social science literature, including works from anthropology, economics, political science and sociology. The course will explicitly cover non-Western legal traditions to an extent not found in conventional comparative law courses. Furthermore, American institutions are explicitly included in the comparison: this is not simply a course in foreign law. Assessment is by a three-hour take-home exam. There is an option to write a research paper sufficient to fulfill the substantial writing requirement; LLM, second-year and third-year students can exercise this option freely but only a limited number of first-year students may avail themselves of it.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Thomas Ginsburg

Constitutional Decisionmaking

Winter 2019, Geoffrey R. Stone

Students enrolled in the seminar will work as "courts" consisting of five "Justices" each. During each of the first eight weeks of the quarter, each court will be assigned two hypothetical cases raising issues under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. All cases must be decided with opinion (concurring and dissenting opinions are permitted). The decisions may be premised on the "legislative history" of the Equal Protection Clause (materials on that history will be provided) and on any doctrines or precedents created by the "Justices" themselves. The "Justices" may not rely, however, on any actual decisions of the United States Supreme Court. The seminar is designed to give students some insight into the problems a Justice confronts in collaborating with colleagues, interpreting an ambiguous constitutional provision, and then living with the doctrines and precedents he or she creates. Enrollment will be limited to three courts. Since the members of each court must work together closely under rigid time constraints, students must sign up as five-person courts. This seminar will not have regularly-scheduled classes (except for introductory and concluding meetings), but you should not underestimate the time demands. It is a very demanding seminar. If more than three courts sign up, I will select the participating courts by lot. To be eligible for participation in the seminar, students should send me an e-mail (gstone@uchicago.edu) including the names and e-mail addresses of all five "Justices." This seminar will not have regularly-scheduled classes (except for an introductory meeting), but you should not underestimate the time demands. It is a very demanding seminar. If more than three courts sign up, I will select the participating courts by lot and I will email you to let you know whether your court has been selected. Registration for this class required an application by November 6. Registration is full for Winter 2019.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Geoffrey R. Stone

Constitutional Law I: Governmental Structure

Spring 2019, Alison LaCroix

This course provides an introduction to federal constitutional law and constitutional theory. Topics to be covered include the function of judicial review; the role of the states and the federal government in the federal structure; and the allocation of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.Students who have taken Constitutional Law for LLMs may not register for this course.

Previously:

  • Winter 2018, Aziz Huq
  • Spring 2018, David A. Strauss
  • Autumn 2018, William Baude
  • Winter 2019, Aziz Huq

Constitutional Law VI: U.S. Constitutional Rights in Comparative Perspective

Autumn 2017, Rivka Weill

The course explores U.S. constitutional law's position regarding the complex burning dilemmas of the twenty first century. These include the death penalty, hate speech, terrorist kidnapping, immigration, secession and nullification, political boycott, the right to bear arms, torture, targeted killings, election integrity and the rights to vote and be elected, the right to marry, freedom of the press, equal protection and affirmative action, abortion, and religious free exercise (especially as it arises in the context of religious sacraments and religious dress). We will examine these issues theoretically and comparatively using Canada, Germany, India, Israel, South Africa and the United Kingdom as case studies. We will reveal fascinating dialogues within countries and between countries on these issues. Assessment for the course will be based on a combination of class participation (10%) and a take-home final examination (90%).

Corporate Theory

Spring 2018, Dorothy Lund

This course explores why American corporation law has its particular structure. In the course, we will seek to understand how the separation of ownership and control creates agency costs, and the ways in which corporate law attempts to remedy them, including disclosure, fiduciary duties, voting, and hostile takeovers. In addition to exploring the economic theory underpinning corporate law, we will consider the political context in which corporate governance operates. We will read and discuss current debates about the agency cost framework, the proper balance of decision-making authority between shareholders and managers, and the merits of legal rules. Some background in business law will be helpful, but is not a requirement. Students will be evaluated based on class participation and a series of reaction papers (two credits).

Critical Legal Studies vs. Law and Economics

Spring 2019, William Hubbard

This seminar will explore two kindred (!) schools of legal thought: critical legal studies (including critical race theory and critical legal studies scholarship on gender and status) and law and economics. We will read canonical and representative works from both schools, with special attention to their critiques of each other. We will attempt to identify the ways in which these critiques have influenced, or should influence, current research and teaching in law. Grades will be based on class participation and a series of short reaction papers (2 credits). Students may earn 3 credits with instructor approval to write an additional 10-12 page paper.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, William Hubbard

The Demagogue and Executive Power

Autumn 2018, Eric Posner

This seminar explores the question of executive power through the figure of the demagogue, and the related phenomenon of populism. Taking a historical approach, we examine the role of the demagogue at several stages of American history: the founding, the Jeffersonian era, the Jacksonian era; the populist era; the New Deal; and the modern era. We ask, What is a demagogue? What is wrong with demagoguery? What is the relationship between the demagogue and the U.S. Constitution? What is the role of the demagogue in a democracy? We also look at some international comparisons. The readings will be mainly historical.Grades will be based on class participation and reaction papers.

Emotion, Reason, and Law

Spring 2018, Martha C. Nussbaum

Emotions figure in many areas of the law, and many legal doctrines (from reasonable provocation in homicide to mercy in criminal sentencing) invite us to think about emotions and their relationship to reason.  In addition, some prominent theories of the limits of law make reference to emotions: thus Lord Devlin and, more recently, Leon Kass have argued that the disgust of the average member of society is a sufficient reason for rendering a practice illegal, even though it does no harm to others. Emotions, however, are all too rarely studied closely, with the result that both theory and doctrine are often confused.   The first part of this course will study major theories of emotion, asking about the relationship between emotion and cognition, focusing on philosophical accounts, but also learning from anthropology and psychology. We will ask how far emotions embody cognitions, and of what type, and then we will ask whether there is reason to consider some or all emotions "irrational" in a normative sense.  We then turn to the criminal law, asking how specific emotions figure in doctrine and theory: anger, fear, compassion, disgust, guilt, and shame. Legal areas considered will include self-defense, reasonable provocation, mercy, victim impact statements, sodomy laws, sexual harassment, shame-based punishments. Next, we turn to the role played by emotions in constitutional law and in thought about just institutions - a topic that seems initially unpromising, but one that will turn out to be full of interest.  Other topics will be included as time permits. Law students and Ph.D. students may register without permission. All others need instructor's permission.

Empirical Legal Studies

Spring 2019, Kyle Rozema

Lawyers constantly evaluate and make legal arguments based on facts about the world. Often, these "facts" are not universally accepted. These facts usually stem from empirical research, and the debate over the facts is usually about the debate over the empirical research. Empirical research can be difficult to understand, but a lot of today's empirical research uses only a handful of methods. In this seminar, you will learn about these methods and the main legal questions that they have been applied to address. The goal of this seminar is not to become a producer of empirical research, and students will not attempt to conduct any empirical analysis. There will be no coding in the seminar. Rather, the goal of the seminar is to become a better consumer of empirical research. Class time each week will be devoted to understanding the intuition of empirical methods. There will be no math in class, and students are encouraged to skip over all the math in the readings. With better intuition about the common empirical methods, students will be able to ask the right questions if presented with arguments based on empirical research. The method of evaluation will be a series of short reaction papers.

Evolution of Legal Doctrine

Autumn 2017, Frank Easterbrook

Legal doctrines have life cycles. They are born and mature. Many doctrines fade and die. There is a form of natural selection among doctrines, with several candidates offering to serve the same function in different ways. This seminar looks at the maturation and replacement of doctrines, posing the question why some die and others survive. Scope is eclectic: the doctrines range from "separate but equal" under the equal protection clause to the "original package doctrine" under the commerce clause, from the appointment of counsel under the Sixth Amendment to the understanding of the Rules of Decision Act (that is, why Swift gave way to Erie). The premise of the seminar is that those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.Final grade will be based on: a series of short research papers and class participation.

Fairness in Law and Economics

Winter 2019, Lee Fennell and Richard McAdams

This seminar will explore the connections between fairness and the economic analysis of law.  We will probe the standard view that fairness and the economic concept of efficiency are rival considerations, and consider the extent to which they may complement each other.  Topics will include a mix of positive analysis (how fairness perceptions influence the way parties behave), normative analysis (including questions of how best to carry out redistribution), and selected legal applications in different doctrinal areas (likely including property, contracts, torts, and criminal law, among others).   The student's grade will be based on a series of short papers and class participation.

Federal Courts

Spring 2019, William Baude

This course covers the role of the federal courts in the federal system. Topics will include the jurisdiction of the federal courts, Congress's power over those courts, litigation against federal and state governments and their officials, and the relationships between federal and state courts. Constitutional Law I is a prerequisite, though it may be waived in special circumstances. The student's grade is based on class participation and a final take-home examination.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Adam Mortara
  • Spring 2018, Aziz Huq
  • Autumn 2018, Fred O. Smith
  • Winter 2019, Aziz Huq

Feminist Philosophy

Spring 2019, Martha C. Nussbaum

The course is an introduction to the major varieties of philosophical feminism.  After studying some key historical texts in the Western tradition (Wollstonecraft, Rousseau, J. S. Mill), we examine four types of contemporary philosophical feminism: Liberal Feminism (Susan Moller Okin, Martha Nussbaum), Radical Feminism (Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin), Difference Feminism (Carol Gilligan, Annette Baier, Nel Noddings), and Postmodern "Queer" Gender Theory and trans femism (Judith Butler, Michael Warner and others).  After studying each of these approaches, we will focus on political and ethical problems of contemporary international feminism, asking how well each of the approaches addresses these problems. Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor. This class has an 8 hour take-home final exam or major paper of 20-25 pages.

Greenberg Seminar: Crime and Politics in Charm City: A Portrait of the Urban Drug War

Spring 2018, Jonathan Masur and Richard McAdams

We will explore a series of works on urban crime, politics, and policing, with an emphasis on the City of Baltimore: David Simon, "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," Sudhir Venkatesh, "Gang Leader for a Day," Jill Loevy, "Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America," and all of "The Wire." We will focus particularly on the drug war - the economics and violence of the trade; the culture of the police bureaucracy; alternative law enforcement strategies such as informants and wiretapping; the politics of race, crime rates, and legalization; and the effects of addiction. But these works also examine the effects of declining blue collar jobs and weakening labor unions; the effects of race, incumbency, and corruption on local politics; the challenges and failures of urban education and child welfare agencies; and the role of the city newspaper in self-governance. Preference is given to 3L students. Graded Pass/Fail.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Jonathan Masur and Richard McAdams
  • Winter 2018, Jonathan Masur and Richard McAdams

Greenberg Seminar: Discrimination in American Institutions

Spring 2018, Adam Chilton and Emily Buss

Although it has been over fifty years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, racial discrimination remains a major problem in America's institutions. In this Greenberg seminar, each session we will watch a documentary film that explores racial discrimination in a different institution that is central to life in America. These will include areas like criminal justice, education, housing policy, political participation, and employment. We will specifically explore the de jure and de facto drivers of discrimination, and ways that legal reforms may help to address these problems. We will also discuss the extent to which the films we watch are successful at identifying and accurately characterizing institutional discrimination, and the power of media to drive awareness and change.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Adam Chilton and Emily Buss
  • Winter 2018, Adam Chilton and Emily Buss

Greenberg Seminar: Our Algorithmic Futures

Spring 2019, Aziz Huq and Nicholas Stephanopoulos

Machine learning, and other 'artificial intelligence' tools, increasingly sculpt the regulatory, discursive, political, economic, and scientific landscapes. This Greenberg addresses the ways in which these new technologies will alter our lives and societies, or reproduce (for better or worse) entrenched elements of those societies.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2018, Aziz Huq and Nicholas Stephanopoulos
  • Winter 2019, Aziz Huq and Nicholas Stephanopoulos

Greenberg Seminar: The Complacent Class and Other Tyler Cowen Ideas

Winter 2018, Saul Levmore and Julie Roin

This Greenberg Seminar will read and discuss books by Tyler Cowen, a provocative and wide-ranging economist. Likely books include: The Complacent Class (the failure of the American Dream and why our society is static); , Average is Over, (ideas about income inequality and jobs in the New Economy);  Good and Plenty (arts funding); Creative Destruction (cultural appropriation and globalization); and What Price Fame (fame versus merit). [Books will be provided.]

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Saul Levmore and Julie Roin

Greenberg Seminar: The Trump Presidency

Spring 2018, Eric Posner and William Howell

Donald Trump is the most divisive president of the modern era. After a tempestuous electoral campaign, he entered office with weak public support, and was immediately embroiled in a series of scandals. Does his presidency change American politics and constitutional understandings, or is he a "normal" president, appearances to the contrary? We will read recent books on the Trump presidency, focusing on his election, his early tenure, and his legal and political battles.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Eric Posner and William Howell
  • Winter 2018, Eric Posner and William Howell

Greenberg Seminar: What is Racism?

Spring 2018, Daniel Abebe and Aziz Huq

This seminar explores the historical, sociological, and cultural roots of racism and racial ideologies.  It examines the relationship of racism and racial ideologies with different forms of political governance, including segregation and apartheid, and explores the legal mechanisms that have both permitted and prohibited racism in various settings.  The seminar will mainly focus on the meaning of racism most prevalent in the United States but will also, where appropriate, consider comparative examples.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Daniel Abebe and Aziz Huq
  • Winter 2018, Daniel Abebe and Aziz Huq

Hellenistic Ethics

Autumn 2018, Martha C. Nussbaum

The three leading schools of the Hellenistic era (starting in Greece in  the late fourth century B. C. E. and extending through the second century C. E. in Rome) - Epicureans, Skeptics, and Stoics - produced philosophical work of lasting value, frequently neglected because of the fragmentary nature of the Greek evidence and people's (unjustified) contempt for Roman philosophy.  We will study in a detailed and philosophically careful way the major ethical arguments of all three schools.  Topics to be addressed include: the nature and role of pleasure; the role of the fear of death in human life; other sources of disturbance (such as having definite ethical beliefs?); the nature of the emotions and their role in a moral life; the nature of appropriate action; the meaning of the injunction to "live in accordance with nature".  If time permits we will say something about Stoic political philosophy and its idea of global duty.  Major sources (read in English) will include the three surviving letters of Epicurus and other fragments; the skeptical writings of Sextus Empiricus; the presentation of Stoic ideas in the Greek biographer Diogenes Laertius and the Roman philosophers Cicero and Seneca. This course complements the Latin course on Stoic Ethics in the winter quarter, and many will enjoy doing both. Admission by permission of the instructor.  Permission must be sought in writing by September 15. Prerequisite: An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation, plus my permission.  This is a 500 level course.  Ph.D. students in Philosophy, Classics, and Political Theory may enroll without permission.

How Law & Legal Institutions Address (Or Fail to Address) the Impacts of Racial Segregation in Chicago

Spring 2019, Robert Weinstock

Chicago is among the most racially segregated major cities in America and also has one of the greatest disparities in poverty rate by race.  Racial segregation in Chicago is the product of governmental policies and socio-economic trends.  Such segregation has in turn given rise to many social justice issues that impact the Chicago communities that surround the Law School.  This two-credit seminar is designed to examine social and legal problems in Chicago that are connected to racial segregation in the city.  In doing so, the seminar will provide an opportunity to evaluate how different areas of law interact with and effect a complex web of social problems.  This seminar will meet once a week, for two hours.  The introductory session will provide an overview of the historic drivers of racial segregation in Chicago, key contemporary racial, socieo-economic, administrative and political dynamics in the City.  After that introductory meeting, each subsequent session will be led by a different faculty member and focused on exploring the ways key laws, policies, and legal institutions within a particular area of law create or exacerbate social ills related to racial segregation.  Sessions focused on criminal law, policing, environmental justice, human rights, corporate law, immigration, and housing are anticipated.  Each session will present a tailored mix of substantive legal doctrine, interdisciplinary insights, and practical perspectives on the way law and legal institutions redress or reinforce a particular social challenge in contemporary Chicago.  In particular, each session will feature either a skills-based component, to present how the law operates in reality, or a presentation conveying the real-world effect of legal institutions on a community.  Students will be assessed in the following ways:  1) weekly blog-style reactions to the readings in advance of the week's seminar; 2) a final short reaction paper; and 3) class participation.

Human Rights: Contemporary Issues

Autumn 2018, Susan Gzesh

This interdisciplinary course presents an overview of several major contemporary human rights problems as a means to explore the use of human rights norms and mechanisms. The course addresses the roles of states, inter-governmental bodies, national courts, civil society actors including NGOs, victims, and their families, and other non-state actors. Topics are likely to include universalism, enforceability of human rights norms, the prohibition against torture, U.S. exceptionalism, and the rights of women, racial minorities, and non-citizens.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Susan Gzesh, Matthew Furlong, and Kai Parker

Introduction to Law and Economics

Winter 2019, Dhammika Dharmapala

This class is an introduction to the economic analysis of law, an approach that has grown rapidly in the last thirty years and now exerts a profound influence on how law is taught and on how courts make decisions. The class will provide you with a set of tools for analyzing transactions and how they are shaped by legal rules, through systematic exposure to the economic way of thinking about law across a variety of legal contexts. These tools are intended to complement, not to challenge, the traditional doctrinal approach to law. The objective is to equip you to use economic reasoning in an informed and critical spirit to analyze cases and transactions of the sort you may encounter in practice. More generally, you should be able to understand and critically evaluate the use of economic analysis in legal scholarship, judicial opinions, and other legal contexts.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Anup Malani
  • Winter 2018, Dhammika Dharmapala

Islamic Law: Foundations and Contemporary Issues

Autumn 2018, Kamran S. Bajwa

Since its inception, Islamic Law has grown from a set of rules governing life in 6th century Arabia to a global body of law developed across time and place with application to religious, civil, criminal, constitutional, commercial, and international law. The primary objective of the seminar will be to give students a basic understanding of Islamic Law and the issues faced in applying Islamic Law in the modern context. The seminar will cover the origins and historical development of Islamic Law, Islamic legal theory, scope and application of Islamic Law, and selected current issues such as Islamic Finance. Modern constitutional law issues regarding sources of law, religious freedom, public interest, and related issues in Muslim majority countries will be reviewed as well as the debates around the application of Islamic Law for Muslim minorities living in secular states. Special attention will be paid to comparative law aspects of Western legal theory and Islamic legal theory in light of the historical introduction of Western legal systems to the Muslim world through Colonial and post-Colonial experiences. Current political debates around Shari'ah law and the concept of a Caliphate will be assessed against Islamic legal theory and constitutional law, specifically in light of the Arab Spring revolutions and the phenomenon of violent extremism. As such, in addition to a theoretical understanding of Islamic Law in the modern context, students will also develop an understanding of the practical impact of legal theory on political, social, and economic realities in the Muslim world and beyond. This is a one semester seminar for 2L and 3L students. There are no pre-requisite courses required in Islam. Weekly readings will be assigned in English language source materials. The seminar will draw on the lecturer's extensive personal experience with the subject matter and knowledge of the legal systems of Muslim majority states such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia, and elsewhere. Professor Kamran Bajwa studied classical Islamic Law and Islamic Theology at the Al-Azhar seminary in Cairo, Egypt prior to attending the University of Michigan Law School where he also took advanced courses in Islamic Law. After graduating from law school, Professor Bajwa trained as a corporate transactional lawyer at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis and then moved to the Middle East and practiced law in that region for 8 years. During his time working in the Middle East, Professor Bajwa continued his studies in Islamic Law and served as an advisor to major Islamic scholars and political leaders throughout the Muslim world involved in legal reform and intellectual projects. Professor Bajwa currently heads the Middle East regional practice for Kirkland & Ellis and travels regularly to the region. Grading will be based on student participation and a collaborative student presentation on a sub-topic of the student's choice. Non-law students who seek to enroll in this class should email Professor Bajwa at: Kamran.bajwa@kirkland.com.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Kamran S. Bajwa

Jurisprudence I: Theories of Law and Adjudication

Spring 2019, Brian Leiter

An examination of classic jurisprudential questions in and around the theory of adjudication: the theory of how judges actually do decide cases and how they ought to decide them. These questions include: Do legal rules really constrain judicial decision-making? What makes a rule (or norm) a rule of the legal system? Are principles of morality legally binding even when such principles have not been enacted into a law by a legislature? (Relatedly, are there objective principles of morality?) When no legal norm controls a case, how ought judges to decide that case? Can there be right answers to legal disputes, even when informed judges and lawyers disagree about the answer? Are there principles or methods of legal reasoning that constrain judicial decision-making, or is legal reasoning essentially indeterminate, such that a skillful judge can justify more than one outcome for any given dispute? Is judicial decision-making really distinct from political decision-making of the sort legislators engage in? Readings drawn exclusively from major twentieth-century schools of thought - especially American Legal Realism (e.g., Karl Llewellyn, Jerome Frank), Natural Law (e.g., Ronald Dworkin, John Finnis), and Legal Positivism (e.g., H.L.A. Hart, Joseph Raz) - supplemented by other pertinent readings (from Leslie Green, Richard Posner, and the instructor, among others). No familiarity with either jurisprudence or philosophy will be presupposed, though some readings will be philosophically demanding, and the course will sometimes venture into (and explain) cognate philosophical issues in philosophy of language and metaethics as they are relevant to the core jurisprudential questions. Attendance at the first session is mandatory for those who want to enroll. Take-home essay exam. Non-JD students must get instructor permission to enroll.

Previously:

  • Brian Leiter

Law and Advances in Medicine

Spring 2018, Julie Palmer

This seminar will address the intersection of medicine, science, and law, focusing on issues related to human research, informed consent, genetic technologies, and other advances in biotechnology. Enrollment is limited to 10 students. Students will write a significant research paper, submitted in three stages, which can be used to satisfy the Writing Project requirement and which will count for 50 percent of the grade. A Writing Project paper can be submitted on the first day of the following quarter.  The other 50 percent of the grade will be based on class participation.

Law and Economic Development

Spring 2019, Anup Malani

Why do some nations perform better than others, whether measured by income, happiness, health, environmental quality, educational quality, freedom, etc.?  We explore the proximate causes of inequality across countries, including the role of human capital, natural resources, technology and market organization.  We also explore the root causes of long term differences in welfare.  We will consider the role of geography (e.g., location in tropical areas) and technological development (e.g., the impact of plow agriculture) on welfare.  We will spend a substantial amount of time on the role of institutions, broadly defined, on development.  We will explore the value of state capacity, democracy, and the common law.   We will study the impact of disruptions such as the slave trade, colonialism and war.  Ultimately, we will try to understand the implications of each explanation for development policy.  Time permitting, we will also consider consider optimal, second-best rules for countries with weak state capacity and limited rule of law.Students will be required to complete a review and critical analysis of the literature on a specific topic in development (20-25 pages).  The topic must be approved by the professor.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Thomas Ginsburg and Anup Malani

Law and Politics: U.S. Courts as Political Institutions

Winter 2019, Gerald Rosenberg

The seminar aims to introduce students to the political science literature on courts understood as political institutions. In examining foundational parts of this literature, the seminar will focus on the relationship between the courts and other political institutions. The sorts of questions to be asked include: Are there interests that courts are particularly prone to support? What factors influence judicial decision-making? What effect does congressional or executive action have on court decisions? What impact do court decisions have? While the answers will not always be clear, students should complete the seminar with an awareness of and sensitivity to the political nature of the American legal system. In addition, by critically assessing approaches to the study of the courts, the seminar seeks to highlight intelligent and sound approaches to the study of political institutions. Particular concern will focus on what assumptions students of courts have made, how evidence has been integrated into their studies, and what a good research design looks like.

Previously:

  • Winter 2018, Gerald Rosenberg

Law and Public Policy:  Case Studies in Problem Solving

Autumn 2018, Stephen Patton

This class examines the intersection of law and public policy and the lawyer's role in helping to formulate and defend public policy choices, using recent, real-world problems based on the instructor's experience as Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago and senior legal advisor to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  While the course will be conducted in a seminar/discussion format, a significant portion of each class will be devoted to hands-on role-playing in which students will play the role of legal advisors to an elected official, grappling with and proposing solutions to vexing issues of public policy.While this course may be of particular interest to students who are interested in public service and public policy-making, its emphasis on developing students' analytical and problem-solving skills and on providing hands-on, practical experience in advising clients on complex issues should be of benefit to any student, regardless of interests and career objectives.  Providing legal analysis and advice and counseling clients on available options are a critical part of almost every legal career, whether as a litigator or transactional lawyer in a private firm or as in-house counsel for a corporation or not-for-profit.Assigned reading will include press articles, proposed legislation, briefs and pleadings, and other materials concerning the case studies/public policy issues that will be examined.  Students will be expected to identify and analyze  legal issues and limits, competing legal and policy interests, and possible policy alternatives and advise their "client" accordingly. Grades will be based on class participation and performance in role-playing exercises and short  (5 page) reaction papers concerning three of the case studies that will be examined.

Law and Society

Autumn 2018, Anna-Maria Marshall

This seminar offers an introduction to the central themes and major debates in the field of Law and Society. The field of sociolegal studies is an interdisciplinary one, and reflecting this, the course will emphasize research in sociology, political science, psychology, anthropology, and legal studies. We will explore classic readings from the Law and Society canon as well as more contemporary research and theory. We will analyze the readings for both their theoretical and empirical contributions, as well as for the methodologies the authors deploy. The themes we will consider over the course of the quarter include the tension between state or "official" law and nonlegal norms for ordering everyday life; the factors that influence who mobilizes the law (and who doesn't); and what it means to use law in contexts other than courtrooms, such as in families, neighborhoods, workplaces, social movements, and mass media. We will explore the debate about the value of rights and litigation strategies in efforts to produce social change, and we'll examine the ubiquitous role of law in popular culture. The course will conclude with a look forward at future directions in law and society research. Final grade will be based on a major paper.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Anna-Maria Marshall

Legislation

Winter 2019, Ryan Doerfler

This course is an introduction to lawmaking in the modern administrative state. It will examine how Congress and administrative agencies adopt binding rules of law (statutes and regulations, respectively) and the ways that implementing institutions - courts and administrative agencies - interpret and apply these rules. The course will consider the structure of the modern administrative state, the incentives that influence the behavior of the various actors, and the legal rules that help to structure the relationships among Congress, the agencies, and the courts. The text for the course is MANNING & STEPHENSON EDS., LEGISLATION AND REGULATION, 3D EDITION (Foundation Press 2017). Grades will be based on an examination at the end of the semester.

Legislation and Statutory Interpretation

Spring 2018, Richard A. Epstein

Much legal work today involves the close reading and interpretation of statutes or similar texts. This class considers current theories and problems related to the production and interpretation of statutes. The class encompasses political theory and public choice approaches to the legislative process as they relate to legal interpretation. It aims to bolster students' ability to work with statutes in law school and beyond. At the end of the class, students will have a thorough grasp of the production of statutes by the legislative branch and their use by the courts.

Life (and Death) in the Law

Spring 2019, Herschella G. Conyers

This seminar will explore the various definitions and valuations of life across diverse areas of the law. Readings will include seminal cases in reproductive rights, assisted suicide, right-to-die, and capital punishment. Background readings in related areas, i.e., scientific journals, papers, etc. will also be required. The seminar will discuss policy decision-making including actuarial analysis and social, medical and religious values inherent, implicit or ignored in the legal analysis. Students will be required to write two response papers, co-draft a statute in one area of law, and participate in jury deliberations. Grade will also be based on class participation.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Herschella G. Conyers

Poverty Law

Spring 2019, Andrew Hammond

This seminar offers an introduction to the substantive law and procedure of public benefit programs in the United States. The seminar will identify persistent controversies in poverty law, including means-test design, funding structure, federalism issues, and behavioral rules, as well as how poverty law interacts with immigration enforcement and disability law. Throughout, we will examine to what extent the agencies that administer these public benefits are vulnerable to federal litigation and what remedies may result from such litigation. Final grade will be based on: a series of short reaction papers and class participation (2 credits). Student who wish to earn 3 credits will be writing an additional long paper.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Andrew Hammond

Precedent

Spring 2019, William Baude

In this seminar we will consider several different aspects of the doctrine of precedent. Do lower courts have to obey the precedents of higher courts? If so, why, and when? Does the Constitution permit the Supreme Court to follow precedent, even when that precedent misinterprets the Constitution? If so, why? And under what circumstances can or should precedents be overturned? Is it possible to have a principled doctrine of precedent? We will consider both examples from case law and arguments from text, structure, and history.A previous constitutional law class is recommended, but not required. A major paper of 20-25 pages is required. Class participation may also be considered in final grading.

Public Choice

Winter 2019, Saul Levmore

This course focuses on the relationship between modern perspectives on voting and interest groups on the one hand and legislation and judicial interventions on the other. Public choice is essentially the science of collective decision-making, and it comes with several well developed tools of analysis. With these tools, and that perspective, we revisit the interactions between legislatures and judges, democracy's attempt to solve certain problems, and the roles played by a variety of legal doctrines and constitutional institutions (from takings law to the meaning of precedents and to the way we structure appeals). As the course proceeds, we explore specific topics in law, such as the possibility of judicial vote-trading, the role of referenda in some jurisdictions but not others, and the role of precedent itself. Grades will be based on a final examination.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Saul Levmore

Public International Law

Autumn 2018, Mary Ellen O'Connell

International law is the system of rules, principles and procedures that regulate activity at the inter-state level. The system plays a critical role in contemporary life, effecting issues of war and peace, the global economy, human rights, and the natural environment. International law is a complete system of law, distinctive from national legal systems.  The main objective of the course is to provide a comprehensive overview of the system by introducing how international law is made, applied, and enforced. The course will also introduce the four major subfields. Additional objectives include:•    Learning about the nature and purpose of international law by comparing international law to other legal systems and by reviewing various theories of law;•    Understanding the relationship between the general principles and processes that characterize the system as a whole and the subfields of war/peace, economy, human rights, and environment;•    Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the systems as well as creatively considering how to enhance the effectiveness of the international legal system; and  •    Preparing for the practice of international law.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, James Gathii

Racism, Law, and Social Sciences

Spring 2019, Christopher Fennell

The domains of racism, law, and the social sciences impact one another in myriad ways. At times, a system of racism is deployed through law, which in turn shapes questions asked in the social sciences. In other instances, the sciences articulate conceptual frameworks that lead to the creation of new forms of racism within society and law. Particular systems of racism have operated across a spectrum from incidents of overt violence to the daily impacts of implicit biases. Our readings and class discussions will consider a sample of case studies from across the globe in addition to past and present dynamics in the United States. Analyses of the social construction of racial and ethnic identities have facilitated studies of the ways in which social differences are created, maintained, and masked. Subjects to be addressed in this course include the interrelation of racial ideologies with other cultural and social dimensions, such as class, ethnicity, gender, political and legal structures, and economic influences. At an international scale, policy makers confront the challenge of balancing calls for multicultural tolerance with demands for fundamental human rights. We will also consider the related histories of biological, genetic, and epigenetic concepts of different races within the human species. Requirements for this course include thoughtful class participation and a final, take-home examination.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Christopher Fennell

The Social and Legal Construction of Race

Spring 2018, LaToya Baldwin Clark

This seminar will examine the role of law in creating and recreating race in our decidedly non-post-racial society. Topics covered will include racial identity, reproduction, and criminal justice. Readings will include cases to understand the "law on the books;" law review articles to understand how legal academics interact the law and its implications; and social science research to understand "law in action."Final grade will be based on: a major paper (3 credits), a series of short reaction papers (2 credits), and class participation.

Stoic Ethics Through Roman Eyes

Winter 2019, Martha C. Nussbaum

 The major ideas of the Stoic school about virtue, appropriate action, emotion, and how to live in harmony with the rational structure of the universe are preserved in Greek only in fragmentary texts and incomplete summaries. But the Roman philosophers give us much more, and we will study closely a group of key texts from Cicero and Seneca, including Cicero's De Finibus book III, his Tusculan Disputations book IV, a group of Seneca's letters, and, finally, a short extract from Cicero's De Officiis, to get a sense of Stoic political thought. For fun we will also read a few letters of Cicero's where he makes it clear that he is unable to follow the Stoics in the crises of his own life. We will try to understand why Stoicism had such deep and wide influence at Rome, influencing statesmen, poets, and many others, and becoming so to speak the religion of the Roman world. Prerequisite: ability to read the material in Latin at a sufficiently high level, usually about two-three years at the college level. Assignment will usually be about 8 Oxford Classical Text pages per week, and in-class translation will be the norm. Note: This class has a final exam that will be scheduled by the instructor.

U.S. Supreme Court: Theory and Practice

Autumn 2018, Sarah Konsky and Michael Scodro

This seminar will provide an in-depth look at the U.S. Supreme Court, with particular emphasis on the skills required to practice successfully in that forum. Students will not only discuss the Court as an institution, but they will also hone skills needed to navigate the certiorari process and to brief and argue before the Court. In addition to class participation, students will be graded on a legal brief (generally 15-25 pages in length) and on their performance in a moot court. Students interested in enrolling should email Mr. Scodro (mscodro@mayerbrown.com) and Professor Konsky (konsky@uchicago.edu), a resume and short statement of interest explaining why they would like to enroll in the seminar.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Sarah Konsky and Michael Scodro

Workshop: Judicial Behavior

Spring 2019, Lee Epstein, Frank Easterbrook, and William M. Landes

The Workshop on Judicial Behavior provides students with a unique opportunity to read and analyze cutting-edge scholarship that focuses on how judges reach their decisions. In a case law system such as that of the United States, a realistic understanding of judicial behavior, which conventional legal instruction does not convey, is essential to the understanding and practice of law. Over the course of the academic year, six scholars from the fields of law and the social sciences will present their work.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Lee Epstein, Frank Easterbrook, William M. Landes, Richard Posner, and Dennis J. Hutchinson
  • Winter 2018, Lee Epstein, Frank Easterbrook, William M. Landes, Richard Posner, and Dennis J. Hutchinson
  • Spring 2018, Lee Epstein, Frank Easterbrook, William M. Landes, Richard Posner, and Dennis J. Hutchinson
  • Autumn 2018, Lee Epstein, Frank Easterbrook, and William M. Landes

Workshop: Law and Economics

Spring 2019, Todd Henderson and William Hubbard

This workshop, conducted over three sequential quarters, is devoted to the intensive examination of selected problems in the application of economic reasoning to a wide variety of legal questions. Workshop sessions will be devoted to the presentation and discussion of papers by faculty. In addition to workshop sessions, which occur approximately every other week, there will be discussion sessions, which will serve as opportunities for students to engage in in-depth, informal discussion of topics in law and economics with the instructor. This workshop does not require a research paper, but students interested in academic writing in law and economics are encouraged to use this workshop to develop their ideas. Grading is based on the completion of a series of reaction papers. Students enrolled in the workshop receive three credits; one in Autumn, one in Winter, and one in Spring.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Omri Ben-Shahar
  • Winter 2018, Omri Ben-Shahar and William Hubbard
  • Spring 2018, Omri Ben-Shahar and William Hubbard
  • Autumn 2018, Todd Henderson and William Hubbard
  • Winter 2019, Todd Henderson and William Hubbard

Workshop: Law and Philosophy

Spring 2018, Martha C. Nussbaum and Nicolas Delon

The theme for 2017-18 is "Animal Rights and Environmental Ethics." About half of the sessions will discuss philosophical and legal issues related to animal rights, and the other half will discuss issues of environmental ethics, focusing on the ethics of climate change. This is a seminar/workshop many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors. Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The course satisfies the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit. Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students. For winter and spring, continuing students only.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Martha C. Nussbaum and Nicolas Delon
  • Winter 2018, Martha C. Nussbaum and Nicolas Delon

Workshop: Law and Philosophy: Enlightenment Liberalism and its Critics, Left and Right

Spring 2019, Brian Leiter and Nethanel Lipshitz

The topic for 2018-19 will be "Enlightenment liberalism and its critics," the critics coming from both the left and the right. Enlightenment liberalism was marked by its belief in human freedom and the need for justifications on any infringements of that freedom; by its commitment to individual rights (for example, rights to expression or to property); and by its faith in the rational and self-governing capacities of persons and their basic moral equality. The Workshop will begin in the fall with several classes just for students to discuss foundational readings from liberal thinkers like Locke, Kant and Mill (Jeremy Waldron and David Brink will also visit the Workshop to discuss, respectively, Locke and Mill). In the Winter quarter, we will consider critics from the left, notably Marx and Frankfurt School theorists like Herbert Marcuse. (Steven Lukes is a confirmed outside visitor.) In Spring, we will turn to critics from the "right" such as Nietzsche (who rejects the moral equality of persons) and Carl Schmitt. There will be sessions with the students discussing primary texts and then sessions with outside speakers (some still being scheduled) sometimes interpreting the primary texts, sometimes criticizing the critics of liberalism, and sometimes developing their ideas. Open to PhD students in philosophy, and to J.D. students and other graduate students who submit an application to Prof. Leiter detailing their background in philosophy. This class will require a major paper (20-25 pages). Only continuing students from winter will be registered.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2018, Brian Leiter and Nethanel Lipshitz
  • Winter 2019, Brian Leiter and Nethanel Lipshitz

Workshop: Public Law and Legal Theory

Spring 2019, Jonathan Masur

Working from a variety of methodological orientations, the workshop examines questions arising at the intersections of public law, legal theory, and interdisciplinary work in law and the social sciences, with an emphasis on politics, legal history, and legal theory. Sessions are devoted to the presentation and discussion of papers by faculty members from other institutions. Students must enroll for the entire year and will receive one pass/fail credit. Students are required to read the papers, attend the workshop, ask questions, and to post questions to the online discussion board.The Public Law Workshop will meet on alternating Tuesday afternoons throughout the year.  Enrollment in the Public Law Workshop is compatible with enrollment in the Law & Economics Workshop, because the two will never meet on the same day.  However, students enrolling in the Public Law Workshop should check to make sure that they do not intend to take other Tuesday afternoon courses that would overlap with the Workshop.Short reaction papers will be required.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Jonathan Masur, Richard H. Helmholz, Adam Chilton, Daniel Hemel, and Genevieve Lakier
  • Winter 2018, Jonathan Masur, Richard H. Helmholz, Adam Chilton, Daniel Hemel, and Genevieve Lakier
  • Spring 2018, Jonathan Masur, Richard H. Helmholz, Adam Chilton, Daniel Hemel, and Genevieve Lakier
  • Autumn 2018, Jonathan Masur
  • Winter 2019, Jonathan Masur

Wrongful Discrimination: Legal and Philosophical Perspectives

Spring 2019, Nethanel Lipshitz

As human beings, we make distinctions all the time. We cannot get by in the world without discriminating. Yet, some forms of discrimination are wrongful, and when discrimination is wrongful, it is typically considered to be a central case of injustice and unfairness. The question of what makes an incidence of discrimination wrong is thus a topic of heated social debate. This is the main question we will take up in this seminar. We will read philosophical literature on discrimination, and use legal cases as our cases studies. We will look in more detail at one case of discrimination in particular - discrimination against the disabled - and discuss the contentious topic of affirmative action.A major paper of 20-25 pages is required for this class. Class participation may be considered in final grading.