Constitutional Law Expert Geoffrey Stone Delivers Annual Hugo Black Lecture April 18

Geoffrey Stone, the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, delivered the 22nd annual Hugo L. Black Lecture on Freedom of Expression on April 18.

Geoffrey Stone, the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, delivered the 22nd annual Hugo L. Black Lecture on Freedom of Expression on April 18. (Photo by Bill Tyner ’13)

Geoffrey Stone, the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, delivered the 22nd annual Hugo L. Black Lecture on Freedom of Expression on April 18.

The topic of this year’s event was “Justice Alito’s First Amendment.”

Stone explored the current state of constitutional jurisprudence, with a particular eye on the approach of the most “conservative” of the current justices. How they undertake the challenge of interpreting the often vague and open-ended guarantees of the Constitution? What explains their decisions in the most controversial cases, involving such issues as the constitutionality of campaign finance regulation, affirmative action, and gun control? He then turned  to Justice Samuel Alito’s approach to interpreting the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment to illustrate more general observations about the conservative justices and to illuminate Justice Alito’s own “vision” of the First Amendment.

Stone was admitted to the New York Bar in 1972 and has been a member of the University of Chicago’s law faculty since 1973. He served as a law clerk to Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and to Justice William J. Brennan Jr. of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Professor Stone teaches and writes primarily in the area of constitutional law. His most recent books are Speaking Out! Reflections on Law, Liberty and Justice (2010); Top Secret: When Our Government Keeps Us in the Dark (2007) and War and Liberty: An American Dilemma (2007). He’s currently working on a new book, Sexing the Constitution, which will explore the historical evolution in western culture of the intersection of sex, religion and law.

Among his many public activities, Professor Stone is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Constitution Society, a member of the National Advisory Council of the American Civil Liberties Union, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society, a member of the American Law Institute and a member of the Straight for Equality Project.

The lecture, endowed by Leonard S. Halpert, Esq., ’44, is named in honor of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. The series is designed to bring to the Wesleyan campus distinguished public figures and scholars with experience and expertise in matters related to the First Amendment and freedom of expression. Former Hugo Black Lecture speakers have included U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Lawrence Tribe, Jack Balkin, Lawrence Lessig, Justice Harry Blackmun and others.

A commentary on “Professor Stone’s First Amendment Views and Its Jurisprudence,” written by Halpert for this lecture, is online here. (To download Halpert’s essay, open the link and save it to your desktop.)