Ralf Poscher, Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg

The Common Error in Theories of Adjudication: an Argument for a Doctrinal Approach

Tue, 05/08/2012
Noon, Kerstetter Room, 301 Marx Hall
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Please join us for a lunctime discussion with Ralf Poscher, Professor, Faculty of Law Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg and the Director of the Institute for Political Science & Philosophie of Law.  The commentator is Keith Whittington, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics.

Professor Poscher writes:  "Adjudication is in the centre of the law as a social system. Adjudication in turn is all about hard cases. With adjudication being the centre of law and hard cases the centre of adjudication, it is disturbing that there is widespread theoretical disquiet about adjudication in hard cases. To varying degrees, adjudication in hard cases is seen not as a legal, but rather as a non-legal, political, moral or otherwise discretionary practice. The talk aims to expose the misleading assumption this curious tendency rests upon and develop a doctrinal theory that reclaims adjudication in hard cases as a specifically legal enterprise."

Ralf Poscher is director at the Institute for Staatswissenschaft and Philosophy of Law at the University of Freiburg, Germany. His research focuses on constitutional law, national security law and legal theory. He received his Ph.D. in law and his habilitation in public law and legal philosophy at the Humboldt-University Berlin. After holding a chair for public law, legal sociology and philosophy of law at the Ruhr University Bochum he joined the Law Faculty in Freiburg. For the academic year of 2007-2008 he was a member of the School of Social Sciences at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton. During his time as a visitor to the LAPA-program in spring 2012 he focuses on research for a book on theories of adjudication. The book project is part of a larger interdisciplinary research agenda “Dealing reasonably with blurred boundaries” supported by a research grant from the Volkswagen-Foundation in its program “Key Issues in the Humanities”. The theoretical aim is to identify and systematize phenomena of vagueness and indeterminacy in different fields of study with philosophy and law as the central disciplines. The practical aim is to develop and implement procedures of dealing reasonably with blurred boundaries in fields of reference like national security, environmental protection and health.

Keith E. Whittington is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University and currently director of graduate studies in the Department of Politics. He is the author of Constitutional Construction: Divided Powers and Constitutional Meaning, and Constitutional Interpretation: Textual Meaning, Original Intent, and Judicial Review, and Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy: The Presidency, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Leadership in U.S. History , and editor (with Neal Devins) of Congress and the Constitution and editor (with R. Daniel Kelemen and Gregory A. Caldeira) of The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics. He has published widely on American constitutional theory and development, federalism, judicial politics, and the presidency. He is editor (with Gerald Leonard) of the New Essays on American Constitutional History and editor (with Maeva Marcus, Melvin Urofsky, and Mark Tushnet) of the Cambridge Studies on the American Constitution. He is currently completing a two-volume casebook American Constitutionalism (with Howard Gillman and Mark Graber) and working on a political history of the judicial review of federal statutes.