A Theory of First Amendment Academic Freedom

David Rabban, LAPA Fellow; University of Texas School of Law

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 4:30pm
301 Marx Hall
Event Category: 

LAPA’s seminar format assumes that seminar participants have familiarized themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator opens 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, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.

Abstract:  The Supreme Court first identified academic freedom as a distinctive First Amendment right in 1957.  Since then scores of Supreme Court decisions and over a thousand lower court decisions have referred to academic freedom.  I am currently writing a book that attempts to organize and classify the existing case law and to elaborate a theory of First Amendment academic freedom.  The excerpts that I am distributing for my LAPA seminar include an overview of the book, my central argument linking academic freedom to expert professional speech by professors, and applications of this argument beyond scholarship and teaching to speech about university affairs and political speech.

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David Rabban
LAPA Fellow
University of Texas School of Law

David M. Rabban is the Dahr Jamail, Randall Hage Jamail, and Robert Lee Jamail Regents Chair in Law and University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas School of Law. His areas of expertise include the First Amendment, higher education and the law, labor law, and legal history.  He is the author of Law’s History:  American Legal Thought and the Transatlantic Turn to History (2013), which was designated a “notable title in American intellectual history” by the Society for U.S. Intellectual History, and Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years (1997), which received the Morris D. Forkosch Prize from the Journal of the History of Ideas and the Eli M. Oboler Award from the American Library Association Intellectual Freedom Round Table.  He has published numerous articles about labor law, the history of free speech, and academic freedom.  He was General Counsel of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) from 1998 to 2006 and Chair of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure from 2006 to 2012.  Rabban is a graduate of Wesleyan University and Stanford Law School.  Rabban was named a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow.

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Robert Post
Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law at Yale Law School

Robert Post is Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Before coming to Yale, he taught at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.  He has written and edited numerous books, including Citizens Divided: A Constitutional Theory of Campaign Finance Reform (2014), which was originally delivered as the Tanner Lectures at Harvard in 2013. Other books include, Democracy, Expertise, Academic Freedom: A First Amendment Jurisprudence for the Modern State (2012); For the Common Good: Principles of American Academic Freedom (with Matthew M. Finkin, 2009); Prejudicial Appearances: The Logic of American Antidiscrimination Law (with K. Anthony Appiah, Judith Butler, Thomas C. Grey & Reva Siegel, 2001); and Constitutional Domains: Democracy, Community, Management (1995).  He is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Law Institute and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the American Constitution Society.