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The University of Chicago Law School 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.

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Brian Leiter, "Why Tolerate Religion?"

Is there a principled reason why religious obligations that conflict with the law are accorded special toleration while other obligations of conscience are not? In Why Tolerate Religion? (Princeton, 2013), Professor Leiter argues there are no good reasons for doing so, that the reasons for tolerating religion are not specific to religion but apply to all claims of conscience. He also argues that a government committed to liberty of conscience is not required by the principal of toleration to grant burden-shifting exemptions to laws that promote the general welfare.Brian Leiter is Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence and Director, Center for Law, Philosophy, and Human Values at the University of Chicago Law School.This talk was recorded on November 19, 2013, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.


20 Feb 2014

Rank #1

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A Conversation With Elena Kagan

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.

1hr 14mins

11 Feb 2015

Rank #2

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David Strauss, "Does the Constitution Always Mean What It Says?"

The U.S. Constitution is "the supreme Law of the Land." Of course some of its provisions are vague and must be interpreted. But when the Constitution says something clearly, we follow it. Don't we?Actually things are not that simple. There are several important examples of clear language in the Constitution that we do not follow. (For an example, look at the first word of the First Amendment.) Sometimes, in fact, it would be essentially unthinkable to follow themost obvious meaning of apparently clear language.These are not just slips of the pen by the Framers of the Constitution.Things are more interesting than that: the Framers made deliberate choices that we do not always accept, even though those choices are reflected in the text. The ways in which we ignore apparently clear language in the Constitution can teach us a lot about how American constitutional law actually works.This talk was recorded on February 26, 2014, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas Lecture Series. David Strauss is Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.


13 May 2014

Rank #3

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Richard Posner, Empirical Legal Studies Conference keynote

Richard A. Posner, Senior Lecturer in Law and a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, devoted a lunchtime keynote to discussing how judges might receive and view empirical research.Richard A. Posner is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School. Following his graduation from Harvard Law School, Judge Posner clerked for Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. From 1963 to 1965, he was assistant to Commissioner Philip Elman of the Federal Trade Commission. For the next two years, he was assistant to the solicitor general of the United States. Prior to going to Stanford Law School in 1968 as Associate Professor, Judge Posner served as general counsel of the President's Task Force on Communications Policy. He first came to the University of Chicago Law School in 1969, and was Lee and Brena Freeman Professor of Law prior to his appointment in 1981 as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He was the chief judge of the court from 1993 to 2000.This talk was recorded on October 23, 2014.


13 Nov 2014

Rank #4

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Anthony J. Casey, "The Short Happy Life of Rules and Standards"

The choice between rules and standards in lawmaking is a central question. But the line between the two forms is not as clear as most scholars presume. This talk argues that the lack of a coherent unifying principle in the rules-and-standards distinction is becoming more evident as technologies behind lawmaking evolve. It will explore the leading accounts of rules and standards, the insights they have provided into the process and meaning of law, and why the distinction may be reaching the end of its useful life. The talk will conclude with thoughts on how we should think about forms of law going forward.This lecture is in honor of Ronald Coase. Coase, who spent most of his academic career at the University of Chicago Law School, helped create the field of law and economics through groundbreaking scholarship that earned him the 1991 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and through his far-reaching influence as a journal editor.Anthony J. Casey is Professor of Law and Mark Claster Mamolen Teaching Scholar. This Coase Lecture was presented on February 21, 2017.

1hr 18mins

28 Feb 2017

Rank #5

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Nicholas Stephanopoulos, "The South After Shelby County"

In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court dismantled one of the two pillars of the Voting Rights Act: Section 5, which had barred southern jurisdictions from changing their election laws unless they first received federal approval. The burning question now is what will happen to minority representation in the South in the absence of Section 5. In this talk, Prof. Stephanopoulos explores the differences between the defunct Section 5 and Section 2 of the VRA, which continues to apply nationwide. His sobering conclusion is that Section 2 provides substantially less protection with respect to both redistricting and franchise restrictions. The demise of Section 5 is therefore likely to reverse decades of progress for voting rights in the South.Nicholas Stephanopoulos is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This Chicago's Best Ideas talk was recorded on November 13, 2013.


20 Feb 2014

Rank #6

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Supreme Court Preview 2017: Highlights and Perspectives

On the first Monday in October, the Supreme Court session opens. Professors Adam Chilton, Aziz Huq, and Daniel Hemel offer insight into some of the issues the Court will hear in the upcoming year.Recorded on September 18, 2017, in Washington, DC.

1hr 8mins

20 Sep 2017

Rank #7

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Saul Levmore, "Carrots and Sticks in Law (and Life)"

One of the great Chicago Ideas is the equivalence of positive and negative incentives. The government can motivate you by rewarding some behavior or by penalizing your failure to behave in the preferred manner. Private parties rarely have the authority to hit you with sticks, so they must usually begin with carrots, or positive inducements, unless law offers torts or other negative inducements in the background. But things quickly get more complicated. Rewards might draw people to an activity, and penalties might cause them to stay away, so that the carrots and sticks are not equivalent. How does law reflect these secondary effects? When is it a good idea to mix positive and negative rewards? Should we pay people not to commit crimes? Why didn’t any lawmakers try to pay people not to enter into same-sex marriages? Why not just impose higher taxes on people who do not engage in public service? This first lecture of the year in our Chicago’s Best Ideas series introduces some of these ideas and then takes them in surprising directions.Saul Levmore is the William B. Graham Distinguished Service Professor of Law.

1hr 5mins

5 Jan 2017

Rank #8

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John Tasioulas, "Minimum Core Obligations: Human Rights in the Here and Now"

Professor Tasioulas discusses the notion of the ‘minimum core obligations’ associated with economic, social and cultural human rights, such as the rights to education and health. The idea of minimum core obligations, which is a nascent doctrine in international human rights law, is heavily contested both as to its meaning and utility.John Tasioulas is Visiting Professor of Law and the Charles J. Merriam Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School; Yeoh Professor of Politics, Philosophy, and Law at the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London; and Director of the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy, and Law.Presented by the International Human Rights Clinics and the Human Rights Law Society on May 5, 2016.


29 Jul 2016

Rank #9

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Emily Buss, "Court Reform in the Juvenile Justice System"

Over 100 years ago, Chicago led the way in establishing separate courts for young people who committed crimes. These Juvenile Courts, soon in operation in every state, had two interrelated aims: The first was to separate adolescent offenders from adult criminals. The second aim was to help young offenders to grow up to become law-abiding citizens, although we knew much less than we thought we did about how to do this. In recent years, we have learned a great deal from psychologists and brain scientists about how young people develop and what affects that development, and that knowledge has increasingly been reflected in law and practice within the juvenile justice system. These insights have not, however, been brought to bear on the court process itself. The focus of my research is on young people's experience with the court process, and how that experience can foster or impair their development.A substantial body of social science focused on adults suggests that their experience in court had an important impact on their attitude about the law, generally, and their obligation to obey the law. Stated very simply, if adults believe they have been shown respect in court and have had an opportunity to participate meaningfully in a fair process, they are more likely to think of the law and law enforcement as legitimate, and are more likely to feel obligated to obey the law. Our understanding of child development, in general, and children's social development, in particular, predict that these "procedural justice" effects should be even stronger in children, and the limited studies looking at this effect, to date, offer some support for this prediction. If a court experience can have any developmental impact on young people, however, we should be very concerned about young people's current experience in juvenile court. Even in courtrooms filled with conscientious professionals, the juvenile court process conveys a disregard for young people and prevents their meaningful engagement in a process purportedly designed to address their needs. I bring together the optimism created by the procedural justice literature with a pessimistic portrayal of the current juvenile court process to argue for some experimentation with substantial reforms.Emily Buss is Mark and Barbara Fried Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded February 28, 2014, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.


13 Mar 2014

Rank #10

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Barbara Herman, "The Moral Side of Non-Negligence"

Legal discussions of negligence focus on issues of harm, fault, and remedy in the context of failure to exercise reasonable care. The point of orientation is the negligent event. In this talk I want to investigate a related moral duty, the duty of due care. Its orientation is ex ante; it is an imperfect duty that ranges across private and public morality; its content is not restricted to injury and loss. The wrongful failure of due care need not increase the risk of a negligent event. An agent acting negligently in the moral sense has failed to take on the full burden of some other duty. The argument for this view of due care will lend support to three more general theses: about the nature and importance of imperfect duties, about the primacy of non-negligence, and about the rationale for different schemes of remedy on the legal side.Barbara Herman is Griffin Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law at UCLA. This talk was recorded on February 26, 2014, as the Dewey Lecture in Law and Philosophy.

1hr 40mins

10 Apr 2014

Rank #11

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Laura Weinrib, “Freedom of Conscience and the Civil Liberties Path Not Taken”

Recent efforts by opponents of same-sex marriage and reproductive rights to reorient their agenda around religious freedom have sparked an explosion of scholarship on religious claims for exemption from generally applicable laws. Professor Weinrib will discuss an early antecedent of this strategy: the campaign by the National Civil Liberties Bureau, the organizational precursor of the ACLU, to secure exemptions from military service for conscientious objectors during the First World War. The conception of liberty of conscience that the ACLU’s founders advanced, which they linked to an “Anglo-Saxon tradition” of individual rights, clashed with Progressive understandings of democratic citizenship and failed to gain broad-based traction. Civil liberties advocates consequently reframed their wartime work in terms that foregrounded democratic dissent rather than individual autonomy. By the Second World War, the new emphasis on expressive freedom had worked its way into American constitutional law. Even then, however, most Americans rejected a court-centered and constitutional right to exemption from generally applicable laws.Laura Weinrib is Assistant Professor of Law and Herbert and Marjorie Fried Teaching Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School.This Chicago’s Best Ideas talked was recorded on February 17, 2016.


9 Mar 2016

Rank #12

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Gillian Thomas, "Title VII and Women in the Workplace"

Gillian Thomas, staff attorney at the ACLU Women's Rights Project, will discuss issues in her recently-published book, Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases, and Fifty Years about Title VII and its effects for women in the workplace. The book details ten important Supreme Court cases for women's equality, and spends as much time on the personal details as the legal ones for an extremely compelling read. As Title VII is one of the most important safeguards for women and helps ensure gender diversity in the workplace, we believe it will be a valuable addition to the Law School's Diversity Month.Presented on January 25, 2017, by If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, Labor and Employment Law Society, Public Interest Law Society, Employment Law Clinic, and Law Women's Caucus.


7 Mar 2017

Rank #13

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Jonathan S. Masur, "The Behavioral Law & Economics of Happiness"

A central question in law and economics is how people will behave in the presence of legal rules. An essential part of that inquiry is what makes people happy or unhappy – what increases or decreases their “subjective well-being.” There is ample evidence that individuals make decisions based in part on what they believe will improve their well-being. In order to understand how legal rules will influence behavior, it is thus vital to understand how those rules will affect happiness. More generally, viewing law through a hedonic lens can help legal policymakers determine whether (or not) a given law or policy will be beneficial for the individuals affected by it.Jonathan S. Masur is John P. Wilson Professor of Law, David and Celia Hilliard Research Scholar, and Director of the Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz Program in Behavioral Law, Finance and Economics. The 2018 Coase Lecture in Law and Economics was presented on February 6, 2018.


19 Feb 2018

Rank #14

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M. Todd Henderson, "Lawyer CEOs"

Does legal education matter? In this lecture, Professor Todd Henderson presents some data on this question, using the behavior of corporate executives as an instrument. Looking at the 10% of large, public company CEOs who are lawyers, the talk tries to determine whether CEOs trained as lawyers act differently than CEOs trained in other ways. Do lawyer CEO firms get sued more or less or the same as other firms? Do they manage litigation differently? And, if they do, what is the impact on the bottom line? There is a burgeoning literature on how personal characteristics, from physical traits to birth order to education, impact CEO decision making. The lecture discusses this literature as well, and situates legal education in it.This Loop Luncheon talk was presented on May 4, 2018.Download the slides (PDF): https://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/2018-05/loop_luncheon_2018_slides.pdf

1hr 1min

30 May 2018

Rank #15

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Mary Anne Case, “Fifty Years of Griswold v. Connecticut"

It's birth control's fiftieth birthday! Professor Case will be discussing what Griswold—the landmark case that began the process of invalidating legal prohibitions on the use of birth control—looks like in the aftermath of Hobby Lobby and Obergefell.Mary Anne Case is the Arnold I. Shure Professor of Law and convener of the Workshop on Regulating Family, Sex and Gender.Presented by the Law Students for Reproductive Justice and the American Constitution Society on November 11, 2015.


17 Nov 2015

Rank #16

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Martha Minow, "Forgiveness, Law and Justice"

Martha Minow, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law, Harvard Law Schoolwith comments by Martha Nussbaum, Aziz Huq, and Michael SchillWhat 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.

1hr 39mins

29 Jan 2015

Rank #17

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Justin Driver, "The Southern Manifesto in Myth and Memory"

Justin Driver is Harry N. Wyatt Professor of Law and Herbert and Marjorie Fried Research Scholar. His principal research interests include constitutional law, constitutional theory, and the intersection of race with legal institutions. Prior to joining the University of Chicago Law School faculty, Driver was a visiting professor at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Virginia. He began his career in legal academia at the University of Texas in 2009.This Loop Luncheon was presented on April 29, 2016, as part of reunion weekend.


2 May 2016

Rank #18

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Moshe Halbertal, "Three Concepts of Human Dignity"

Human Dignity has become a central value in political and constitutional thought. Yet its meaning and scope, and its relation to other moral and political values such as autonomy and rights have been elusive. The lecture will explicate the value of Human Dignity through the exploration of three distinct ways in which dignity is violated.Moshe Halbertal is the Gruss Professor of Law at NYU and Professor of Philosophy Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.The 2015 Dewey Lecture was recorded on November 11 at the University of Chicago Law School.

1hr 26mins

3 Dec 2015

Rank #19

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M. Todd Henderson, "Do Judges Follow the Law?"

In a naïve model of judging, Congress writes statutes, which courts know about and then slavishly apply. But a Chicago lawyer might doubt this model, believing judges are maximizing something other than compliance with the law. In this CBI, Professor Henderson examines judicial compliance with a mandatory Congressional command, and uses it to offer a richer and more nuanced model of judicial behavior.M. Todd Henderson is Professor of Law and Aaron Director Teaching Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded on April 15, 2014, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

1hr 4mins

3 Jun 2014

Rank #20