Walter Murphy, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Emeritus

Thu, 02/14/2008
12-1:30 PM, by invitation only

Walter Murphy was the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton for many years before his retirement. He is a legendary scholar and teacher, who has had multiple books on the "required classics" list in law and social sciences. Elements of Judicial Strategy was the first book to apply insights from soft rational-choice theory to the study of judicial politics, though the main sources that he uses for the book are the papers of US Supreme Court justices. His casebook on comparative constitutional law was ahead of his time (so much so that the only sales were in Europe at first - other Americans hadn't gotten around to studying the topic at the time). His classic book Wiretapping on Trial has become again eerily relevant to current events. And he has published three novels exploring the relationship between law, authority and Catholicism. The Vicar of Christ follows his main character through the unlikely combination of offices from Marine officer, through Supreme Court justice to Pope. The new book, Constitutional Democracy: Creating and Maintaining a Just Political Order, merges fiction and political theory -- starting with a hypothetical constitutional convention for which Professor Murphy constructed the characters and wrote the script. He ranges over the world for his examples, and raises important questions about how constitutions are bargained into existence and how they are maintained in the face of serious challenges. He believes that we live presently in a time of constitutional crisis, and worries for the fate of the US constitutional order. He has lots of fascinating things to say about the times in which we live.

For more on Walter Murphy and his recent book, see his LAPA profile.