Jamal Greene, Columbia Law School

(Anti)Canonizing Courts

Date: 
Mon, 10/07/2013
Location: 
4:30-6 PM, Kerstetter Room, Marx Hall

Please join us for a LAPA Seminar with Jamal Greene,  Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, who will present "(Anti)Canonizing Courts." His commentator is James R. Stoner, Jr., Garwood Visiting Professor & Visiting Fellow (2013-14) in the James Madison Program in American Ideals & Institutions and Professor of Political Science at Louisiana State University.

As always, the LAPA format asks that seminar participants familiarize themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator will open the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception in the Kerstetter Room, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.

Abstract:  "Within U.S. constitutional culture, courts stand curiously apart from the society in which they sit. Among the many purposes this process of alienation serves is to "neutralize" the dissonance produced by inconsistency between Americans' self-conception and the role our forebears' social and political culture played in producing historic injustice. The legal culture achieves dissonance in part by structuring American constitutional argument around anticanonical cases: most especially Dred Scott v. Sandford, Plessy v. Ferguson, and Lochner v. New York. Understanding these decisions as wrong the day they were decided enlarges the role of independent courts in producing them and diminishes the role of social movements in overcoming them. This Essay argues for approaching these decisions as ordinary products of political capture rather than extraordinary products of judicial malfeasance. Doing so honors those who struggled for progress and may invigorate our political imagination in the present."

Jamal Greene is a Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where he teaches constitutional law, the First Amendment, federal courts, and constitutional theory. Professor Greene's research focuses on the sociology of legal and constitutional argument. He is the author of more than 20 law review articles and book chapters, with works appearing in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, and the Columbia Law Review, among other publications. Prior to joining the Columbia faculty, Professor Greene served as an Alexander Fellow at New York University School of Law. Professor Greene has served as a law clerk to the Hon. Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Hon. John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Greene is a graduate of Yale Law School and Harvard College.

James R. Stoner, Jr., 2013-14 Garwood Visiting Professor and Visiting Fellow, is Professor of Political Science at Louisiana State University. He is the author of Common-Law Liberty: Rethinking American Constitutionalism (Kansas, 2003) and Common Law and Liberal Theory: Coke, Hobbes, and the Origins of American Constitutionalism (Kansas, 1992), as well as a number of articles and essays. A Senior Fellow of the Witherspoon Institute, he has co-edited two books, The Social Costs of Pornography: A Collection of Papers (with Donna M. Hughes, 2010), and Rethinking Business Management: Examining the Foundations of Business Education (with Samuel Gregg, 2007). He served on the National Council on the Humanities from 2002 to 2006, chaired his department at LSU from 2007-2013, and served as acting dean of the LSU Honors College in Fall 2010. He earned a B.A. from Middlebury College and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University.

Funded by the Bouton Law Lecture Fund