Monday, January 2, 2017

The 25 best books I read in 2016 (by Prof. Aristides N. Hatzis)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Provocative Life of Judge Richard Posner

by John Fabian Wittoct

New York Times

October 7, 2016

Once in every great while, nature and nurture combine in a single person the qualities of erratic genius, herculean work ethic and irrepressible ambition. Think of Picasso in art, Ali in boxing or Roth in literature. Add a penchant for provocation untethered to the constraints of conventional human interaction and you get, in the law, Judge Richard Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago.

In the past half-century there has been no figure more dominant or more controversial in American law than Posner. He has written more than 50 books, over 500 articles and nearly 3,000 majority opinions for his court. Not even Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. — to whom he is often compared — matches his productivity and range.

William Domnarski’s biography, the first such book on Posner, draws on extensive interviews and on access to Posner’s correspondence at the University of Chicago. “Richard Posner” portrays a man who aims self-­consciously to be (in his words) a “Promethean intellectual hero,” remaking the world of the law by sheer will. The questions Domnarski asks are, What makes this extraordinary character tick — and to what end?

Posner was born in New York City in 1939 to parents who were Communists, or at least fellow travelers. He held traditionally left-liberal views into adulthood, including the time of his clerkship on the Supreme Court with a liberal lion, Justice William Brennan. But he was restless and sometimes even bored. He considered leaving the law for graduate training in literature. In the late 1960s, however, he discovered economics. Legal thought has never been the same.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Illiberal Democracy of Ancient Athens

by Aristides N. Hatzis
University of Athens
July 15, 2016


Ancient Athenians introduced democracy, majoritarianism and popular sovereignty. They also introduced populism and rent-seeking. Moreover, Athenians didn’t invent the rule of law. The power of demos was almost unlimited, there were no constitutional guarantees, checks and balances. The laws were subjected to the whims of the majority of citizens or judges. Most importantly, individual rights were not recognized in Athens. The concept of liberty in Ancient Athens was very different from the concept of liberty that prevailed after the Great Revolutions of the late 18th and the early 19th century which led to the contemporary liberal democracies. We will discuss these issues with reference to famous historical episodes and trials. However, we will also see that the liberal ideas of individuality, toleration and the rule of law, appeared in a not-so-embryonic way, in three important works of the period (a tragedy, a comedy and a history book). These ideas were remarkably original but at the same time marginal. They didn’t exert any significant influence on the Athenian democratic institutions.

This is the text of a Keynote Lecture at the international conference: “Ancient Greece and the Modern World: The Influence of Greek Thought on Philosophy, Science and Technology” (Ancient Olympia, August 2016)

Download the Lecture (PDF)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Richard A. Posner’s ‘Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary’

by Kermit Roosevelt

New York Times

January 29, 2016

If Richard Posner did not exist, who would dare invent him? The most-cited legal scholar of all time, who is arguably America’s greatest living judge; a man who publishes a book a year while writing all his own judicial opinions; an icy ration­alist who once confessed to unrequited love for his cat. . . . It’s all a bit too much to believe. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Gene Roddenberry’s Mr. Spock are probably the closest anyone has come.

Fortunately, Posner does exist. A judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit since 1981, he remains a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School and from these dual positions continues to produce an astounding amount of work. He made his reputation as a scholar by pioneering the economic analysis of law in the 1970s and since then has ranged widely, covering topics like the relationship between law and literature, the regulation of sex, the 2000 election and antiterrorism. Recently he has turned his attention to the federal judiciary and written two books, “How Judges Think” and “Reflections on Judging.”

His latest, “Divergent Paths,” continues that trend, though its aim is less illumination than critique and reform. The book has two parts. The first, and longer, identifies problems facing the modern federal judiciary; the second offers suggestions for how law schools might alleviate them. Both display Posner’s characteristic clearheaded insights. “Divergent Paths” is a valuable contribution to debates over the future of federal courts and law schools alike.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Law and Economics: Philosophical Issues and Fundamental Questions

Edited by Aristides N. Hatzis & Nicholas Mercuro

London/New York: Routledge, 2015

The Law and Economics approach to law dominates the intellectual discussion of nearly every doctrinal area of law in the United States and its influence is growing steadily throughout Europe, Asia, and South America. Numerous academics and practitioners are working in the field with a flow of uninterrupted scholarship that is unprecedented, as is its influence on the law.

Academically every major law school in the United States has a Law and Economics program and the emergence of similar programs on other continents continues to accelerate. Despite its phenomenal growth, the area is also the target of an ongoing critique by lawyers, philosophers, psychologists, social scientists, even economists since the late 1970s. While the critique did not seem to impede the development of the field, it certainly has helped it to become more sophisticated, inclusive, and mature. In this volume some of the leading scholars working in the field, as well as a number of those critical of Law and Economics, discuss the foundational issues from various perspectives: philosophical, moral, epistemological, methodological, psychological, political, legal, and social.

The philosophical and methodological assumptions of the economic analysis of law are criticized and defended, alternatives are proposed, old and new applications are discussed.

The book is ideal for a main or supplementary textbook in courses and seminars on legal theory, philosophy of law, jurisprudence, and (of course) Law and Economics.

Aristides N. Hatzis is an Associate Professor of Legal Theory at the University of Athens, Greece.

Nicholas Mercuro is Professor of Law in Residence ath the Michigan State University College of Law and Member of the faculty of James Madison College, Michigan State University, USA.

Here you can find the Preface, the Table of Contents and Two Chapters (by Judge Richard Posner and Prof. Martha Nussbaum)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Ends of Privacy

by Jack Goldsmith

The New Rambler

April 5, 2015

“Over the past twenty years,” complained Newsweek, the United States has become “one of the snoopiest and most data-conscious nations in the history of the world.” Part of the problem is that “the average American trails data behind him like spoor through the length of his life.” Another part of the problem is that the government and private firms “have been chasing down, storing, and putting to use every scrap of information they can find.” These “vast reservoirs of personal information” are “poured into huge computers” and “swapped with mountains of other data from other sources” with “miraculous speed and capacity.” As a result of these forces, “Americans have begun to surrender both the sense and the reality of their own right to privacy – and their reaction to their loss has been slow and piecemeal.”

The Newsweek article – published in 1970, and entitled The Assault on Privacy– nicely captures the thesis of Bruce Schneier’s new book, Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World. That doesn’t mean that Schneier’s book isn’t valuable – it is. It just means that there is something to be learned about Schneier’s argument from the fact that it was made 45 years ago. (Disclosure: I gave Schneier comments on a draft of his book and he and I are teaching a class together on Internet power and governance.)

Data and Goliath is an informed, well-written, accessible, and opinionated critique of “ubiquitous mass surveillance” by governments and corporations – how it happens, its costs, and what to do about it. Mass surveillance is made possible because “everything is turning into a computer.” The average individual interacts with hundreds (and soon thousands) of computers everyday – smartphones, laptops, web pages, social media, automobiles, cameras and recorders and others sensors, payment mechanisms, and so on. Soon pets, food containers, and appliances will all have chips and sensors – this is the Internet of things, where everything is computerized. These computers collect, record, store, generate, and emit an astounding amount and variety of data about us: what we say and write and like and want and do (including our vices and secrets); where we are, who we are with, and who we communicate with; the state of our health and finances and personal lives; and much more.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Για μιαν «εντοπισμένη» και ειλικρινή αναθεώρηση

του Νίκου Κ. Αλιβιζάτου


11 Μαΐου 2014

Πιστός σε μια παλιά συνήθεια της συνταγματικής μας ιστορίας, ο πρωθυπουργός δεν αρκέσθηκε την περασμένη Τετάρτη στην αναγγελία μιας ακόμη συνταγματικής αναθεώρησης. Εν χορδαίς και οργάνοις, μίλησε για το «νέο Σύνταγμα» που έχει τάχα ανάγκη η χώρα, αφού το ισχύον, όπως είπε, «έκλεισε τον κύκλο του».

Ευτυχώς, οι 30 προτάσεις που εν συνεχεία παρουσίασε (πλην μιας, της τελευταίας, που ενδίδει σε παλιά φαντάσματα του κ. Σαμαρά) δεν επιβεβαιώνουν τη νεφελώδη αυτή εξαγγελία: προσεκτικά διατυπωμένες οι περισσότερες, δεν αγνοούν το δημοκρατικό κεκτημένο της Μεταπολίτευσης, που με τόση απρονοησία ορισμένοι λοιδορούν. Θα μπορούσαν ως εκ τούτου να αποτελέσουν τη βάση για έναν ανοιχτό διάλογο, ώστε η επόμενη συνταγματική αναθεώρηση να ανταποκρίνεται σε πραγματικές ανάγκες και όχι σε ιδεολογήματα.

Αναφέρομαι, πρωτίστως, στα τρία μείζονα ζητήματα, για τα οποία η ιδέα της αναθεώρησης έχει ωριμάσει: ποινική ευθύνη των υπουργών, βουλευτική ασυλία και κατ’ ουσίαν αχρήστευση των ανεξάρτητων αρχών, μέσω της ατυχούς ρύθμισης του ισχύοντος Συντάγματος που απαιτεί ομοφωνία ή πλειοψηφία των 4/5 ενός οργάνου της Βουλής –της Διάσκεψης των Προέδρων– για την ανάδειξη των μελών τους. Για τα ζητήματα αυτά, όλα τα κόμματα του δημοκρατικού τόξου συμφωνούν ότι το Σύνταγμα πρέπει να αλλάξει. Και θα ήταν κρίμα εάν λόγοι σκοπιμότητας ή διαφωνίες για τα δευτερεύοντα απέτρεπαν τη συμπόρευσή τους.


Δεν παίζουμε με το Σύνταγμα

του Σταύρου Τσακυράκη

Το Βήμα

11 Μαΐου 2014

Φαντάζομαι ότι δεν υπάρχει νοήμων άνθρωπος που να μην αντιλαμβάνεται ότι το πολιτικό προσωπικό της χώρας «παίζει» επικοινωνιακά με το Σύνταγμα, τον θεμελιώδη νόμο του κράτους. Τι άλλο μπορεί να είναι η πομπώδης εξαγγελία ευρείας αναθεώρησης από τον Πρωθυπουργό λίγες ημέρες πριν από τις εκλογές για την Αυτοδιοίκηση και την Ευρωβουλή; Επιδιώκει μήπως σοβαρό διάλογο για συγκεκριμένες προτάσεις; Επιθυμεί να διεξαχθεί ο διάλογος στα τηλεοπτικά παράθυρα, όπου οι υποψήφιοι δήμαρχοι και ευρωβουλευτές, μεταξύ άλλων, θα πετούν και καμιά κουβέντα για το Σύνταγμα;

Το χειρότερο είναι ότι έτσι συνεχίζεται μια κάκιστη παράδοση. Το 2001, πάλι για λόγους πολιτικής σκοπιμότητας, χωρίς κανένας να ενδιαφέρεται και χωρίς οι ίδιοι οι βουλευτές να γνωρίζουν τι ψηφίζουν, πραγματοποιήθηκε μια σαρωτική αναθεώρηση (άλλαξε 79 διατάξεις), η οποία ήταν μνημείο προχειρότητας και πολυλογίας. Το Σύνταγμά μας κατέληξε να περιέχει πάνω από 27.000 λέξεις, να είναι δηλαδή διπλάσιο σε μέγεθος από το μέσο Σύνταγμα της Ευρώπης των «28» που είναι περίπου 15.000 λέξεις. Μόλις πέντε χρόνια αργότερα εξαγγέλθηκε νέα εκτεταμένη αναθεώρηση που τελικά κατέληξε το 2008 στην αναθεώρηση τεσσάρων μόνο διατάξεων.

Στο ερώτημα γιατί αρέσει στους πολιτικούς μας να «παίζουν» κάθε λίγο και λιγάκι με το Σύνταγμα η απάντηση είναι απλή: Επιχειρούν να καλύψουν την απροθυμία και την ανικανότητά τους να πραγματοποιήσουν οποιαδήποτε σημαντική μεταρρύθμιση με την εξαγγελία αναθεώρησης που λειτουργεί σαν πανάκεια για τη λύση όλων των προβλημάτων μας. Δεν υπάρχει κανείς σοβαρός άνθρωπος που να θεωρεί το Σύνταγμα τροχοπέδη στις αλλαγές που έχει ανάγκη η χώρα.


Monday, May 5, 2014

The U.S. Constitution Is Impossible to Amend

by Eric Posner


May 5, 2014

In his new book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, John Paul Stevens argues for amending the Constitution to promote democracy and rights. Stevens, who served on the Supreme Court from 1975 to 2010, knows a lot about the nation’s founding document and thinks that it needs a major retooling. He’s right that there are many problems with it. But he’s wrong to think that amending the Constitution is the solution. He’s wrong because it is nearly impossible to enact new amendments. That is the problem that needs a solution.

Stevens wants to abolish the death penalty, allow for more gun control and campaign finance regulation, and give judges the power to block gerrymandering. He would also allow the federal government to order around state officials and enable people to sue state governments for damages. The six amendments he proposes would overturn Supreme Court decisions, many of which Stevens dissented from when he served on the court.

In most countries, we could seriously consider the changes to the Constitution that Stevens proposes—or, for that matter, a different set of amendments from the Tea Party. But in our country, we can’t. Any proposal to amend the Constitution is idle because it’s effectively impossible.

The problem starts with Article 5 of the Constitution. It provides that an amendment can be proposed either by a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate or by a convention, called into being by Congress, after a request from two-thirds of the states. That’s version A and version B of step one. If an amendment makes it through either one, then comes step two: ratification by three-quarters of the states. In other words, an amendment requires a supermajority twice—the pig must pass through two pythons. By contrast, ordinary legislation requires the approval of a simple majority in each house.

The founders made the amendment process difficult because they wanted to lock in the political deals that made ratification of the Constitution possible. Moreover, they recognized that, for a government to function well, the ground rules should be stable. But they also understood that the people will need to change those ground rules as new challenges and problems surface with the passage of time. They didn’t mean for the dead hand of the past to block necessary progress.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ενισχύει η δημοκρατία τους εχθρούς της;

της Λίνας Παπαδοπούλου


27 Φεβρουαρίου 2014

Τα ευρωπαϊκά πολιτικά κόμματα είναι (συν)ομοσπονδίες εθνικών πολιτικών κομμάτων με όμοιο ιδεολογικό προσανατολισμό. Διαθέτουν νομική προσωπικότητα και διεκδικούν την ψήφο μέσω των εθνικών κομμάτων που είναι μέλη τους. Σύμφωνα με τον σχετικό κανονισμό της ΕΕ, αναγνωρίζονται ως τέτοια και δικαιούνται χρηματοδότησης από τον ευρωπαϊκό προϋπολογισμό, εφόσον έχουν μια παρουσία σε τουλάχιστον επτά κράτη και συμμετέχουν στις ευρωεκλογές.

Πρέπει όμως να πληρούν και μία ακόμη προϋπόθεση: να σέβονται, στο πρόγραμμά τους και με τη δράση τους, τις θεμελιώδεις αρχές της ΕΕ. Δηλαδή τις αρχές της ελευθερίας, της δημοκρατίας, του σεβασμού των δικαιωμάτων του ανθρώπου και των θεμελιωδών ελευθεριών, καθώς και του κράτους δικαίου. Κρίσιμο είναι ότι η συνδρομή της προϋπόθεσης αυτής μπορεί να ελεγχθεί και να επαληθευτεί από το Κοινοβούλιο, εάν αυτό ζητηθεί από το ένα τέταρτο των μελών του, που εκπροσωπούν τρεις τουλάχιστον πολιτικές ομάδες. Το Κοινοβούλιο αποφασίζει με την πλειοψηφία των μελών του, αφού ακούσει εκπροσώπους του κόμματος και συμβουλευτεί ειδική γνωμοδοτική επιτροπή απαρτιζόμενη από ανεξάρτητες προσωπικότητες. Κόμμα που διαπιστωμένα δεν υπηρετεί τις παραπάνω αρχές χάνει την ιδιότητά του αυτή και αποκλείεται από τη χρηματοδότηση.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Judge Posner and Judicial Humility

by Eric Segall

Huffington Post

October 30, 2013

There has been a huge hoopla over comments made by Judge Richard Posner during a HuffPost Live interview with Mike Sacks, and in various other media outlets, that he likely made the wrong decision upholding Indiana's Voter ID law in Crawford v. Marion County. This decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court in a decision written by Justice Stevens. Most of the commentary on Posner's out-of-court statements has been negative. Legal scholars and political commentators have argued judges should speak through their opinions not in after the fact writings and interviews. Ed Whelan of the National Review went so far as to say that "Posner's vacillation and contradictions on the Indiana voter ID case provide further evidence that he is wrong to advocate an open-ended judicial approach in which it is desirable to have the soundness of a decision turn on the judge's estimation of its 'likely consequences.'"

Is there something wrong with a judge admitting he may have been or even was wrong in a case he decided six years ago? Judge Posner admits that, if he had a similar case before him today, such out-of-court commentary might be inappropriate because the comments might suggest prejudging of the result. But, assuming no similar case pending, a judge who admits he made a mistake is performing a valuable service that is all too rare among our judiciary-displaying great humility about hard judicial decisions.

Far too many judges write opinions as if pre-existing law generates clear answers to hard cases. The truth is that in Crawford, as in most difficult cases where there is no clear precedent, results are generated much more by values and taste than logic and legal analysis. This "realist" way of understanding how judges reach legal decisions is crucial to understanding the role of the judiciary in our system of government. Whether the right to abortion is protected by the Constitution; whether affirmation action violates the rights of white people; whether Congress has the power to make you buy health insurance; and whether Voter ID laws violate the Fourteenth Amendment are all questions that can only be answered with reference to the political values and personal experiences of judges not by resort to law and logic. The great discretion judges, especially appellate judges, have to decide cases explains why Justices Ginsburg and Scalia, both brilliant lawyers and judges, disagree on virtually every contested issue of constitutional law.



Friday, October 11, 2013

Κοινοβουλευτικό κόμμα και εγκληματική οργάνωση

του Σταύρου Τσακυράκη

Liberal Sociability

11 Οκτωβρίου 2013

Κατά το ισχύον Σύνταγμα δεν προβλέπεται διαδικασία διάλυσης ενός κόμματος. Στην Αναθεωρητική Βουλή υπήρξε πρόταση για τη δυνατότητα απαγόρευσης πολιτικού κόμματος αλλά αυτή απορρίφθηκε. Βέβαιο είναι ότι στις λίγες χώρες (Γερμανία, Τουρκία) που το Σύνταγμα προβλέπει τη διάλυση πολιτικού κόμματος, την σχετική απόφαση παίρνουν ανώτατα δικαστήρια (συνταγματικά δικαστήρια). Μπορούμε να έχουμε ως δεδομένα δύο πράγματα: πρώτον, ότι η διάλυση ενός κοινοβουλευτικού κόμματος σε μια δημοκρατία είναι αμφιλεγόμενο ζήτημα και δεύτερον, αν, εν πάση περιπτώσει προβλέπεται, είναι αδιανόητο να γίνεται χωρίς δικαστική απόφαση.

Πριν από λίγες μέρες, συνελήφθησαν και φυλακίστηκαν ο αρχηγός της Χρυσής Αυγής, ο κοινοβουλευτικός εκπρόσωπος, βουλευτές και μέλη της. Διατάχθηκε έρευνα σε διάφορα γραφεία του κόμματος, συμπεριλαμβανομένων των γραφείων του στη Βουλή. Προτάθηκε η νομοθετική πρόβλεψη για τη διακοπή χρηματοδότησης κόμματος που βουλευτές του διώκονται για κακουργήματα. Όλα αυτά δεν έγιναν κατόπιν μιας δικαστικής απόφασης αλλά με την απόφαση δίωξης που έλαβε ο εισαγγελέας. Αν ισοδυναμούν με de facto διάλυση ενός κοινοβουλευτικού κόμματος έχουμε μια σοβαρή παραβίαση λειτουργίας της δημοκρατίας μας.

Υποστηρίζεται ότι δεν πρόκειται για διάλυση κόμματος αλλά για δίωξη εγκληματικής οργάνωσης, σύμφωνα με το άρθρο 187 του ΠΚ. Με απλά λόγια, ο εισαγγελέας, με βάση τις ενδείξεις που είχε, έκρινε ότι η Χρυσή Αυγή πρέπει να διωχθεί ως εγκληματική οργάνωση, κάτι ανάλογο της Μαφίας, με συνέπεια να διώκονται οι κατηγορούμενοι για το διαρκές και αυτόφωρο κακούργημα της συμμετοχής σε εγκληματική οργάνωση και να μην χρειάζεται για τους βουλευτές άδεια της Βουλής για άρση της ασυλίας τους.


Monday, August 12, 2013

The Problem is Authoritarianism, Not Islam

by Dani Rodrik

Project Syndicate

August 12, 2013

Is Islam fundamentally incompatible with democracy? Time and again events compel us to ask this question. And yet it is a question that obscures more than it illuminates.

Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia are very different countries, but one thing that they share are Islamist governments (at least until recently in Egypt’s case). To varying degrees, these governments have undermined their democratic credentials by failing to protect civil and human rights and employing heavy-handed tactics against their opponents. Despite repeated assurances, Islamist leaders have shown little interest in democracy beyond winning at the ballot box.

So those who believe that the removal of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s government was justified have a point. As the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule became increasingly authoritarian, it trampled on the ideals and aspirations of the Tahrir Square revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Nonetheless, the support that the military coup received from many Egyptian liberals is difficult to fathom. Clever word games cannot hide the essence of what happened: a government that came to power in a fair election was overthrown by the army.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Democracy Loses in Egypt and Beyond

by Noah Feldman


July 4, 2013

The framers of the U.S. Constitution feared that democracy could devolve into rule of the mob. Events in Egypt are a reminder of why that concern was justified. Essentially the same pro-democracy activists who enabled Hosni Mubarak to be removed from power in February 2011 have now done the same to his democratically elected successor, Mohamed Mursi. In both cases it was the protesters who made the government vulnerable. And in both cases it was the army that delivered the coup de grace in the form of a coup d’etat.

Even acknowledging that Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood-backed party did a poor job over their year in power, failing to win over opponents or broaden their base of support, the latest coup is a tragic setback for democracy, constitutionalism and the rule of law. The first protests of the Arab Spring were calls to replace a dictator who had no democratic right to govern. The protests were inspiring not just because they said “enough” to a bad system, but also because the protesters aspired to replace that bad system with democracy. Many of the original protesters were themselves secular or wanted a secular government. But by calling for free elections, they opened themselves to the possibility that the majority of Egyptians wouldn’t agree with them. That, in essence, is democracy: The majority gets to choose the government it wishes, subject to the guarantee of minority rights.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Rule of Law, Individual Rights and the Free Market in the Liberal Tradition: The Case of Greece

by Aristides N. Hatzis

Bridging the Gap: Arab-European Dialogue on the Basics of Liberalism, Ronald Meinardus, ed.
Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty
Cairo, 2013

The western liberal tradition is closely connected with the idea of rights and the rule of law. Rule of law is the idea of a civil society governed by a Constitution which sets limits to government power and protects individual rights against any authority, even against the political will of a majority. The development of the western democratic theory from Ancient Athens to the British parliamentary system, the American Constitution and the French Revolution is mostly a development of two different and often contrasting principles: the democratic principle of people’s sovereignty and the liberal principle of the protection of individual rights. The balance between these two principles defines the quality of constitutional democracy. Greece was one of the first liberal democracies of the modern era. Nevertheless, contemporary Greece lags behind modern liberal democracies in many respects. The experience of Greece could be most useful for the new Arab democracies and Egypt in particular.

Keywords: Liberalism; Rights; Rule of Law; Free Market; Democratic Principle; Liberal Principle; Liberal Democracy; Harm Principle; Personal Autonomy; Greece; John Stuart Mill; James Madison

Download the Paper

Monday, May 13, 2013

Justice Ginsburg, Roe v. Wade and Same-Sex Marriage

by Geoffrey R. Stone

Huffington Post

May 12, 2013

I had the honor of having a public "conversation" yesterday with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before a large audience at the University of Chicago Law School. The topic of the event was the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Justice Ginsburg offered many interesting observations about the women's rights movement, in which she herself was a pivotal actor. But I suspect some of her reflections on Roe v. Wade must have surprised the audience.

Because Justice Ginsburg has always been a strong proponent of a woman's right to choose, members of the audience undoubtedly expected her to celebrate Roe v. Wade as one of the great achievements in the history of the Supreme Court. Instead, she was quite critical of the decision.

Justice Ginsburg's critique of Roe is especially interesting at this moment because it has implications for the same-sex marriage cases currently pending before the Court. Of course, Justice Ginsburg did not herself draw any such parallel, and it would have been inappropriate for her to do so. But the connection could not have been lost on the audience.