2023 Hallows Lecture: In Praise of Complexity and Contradiction in American Law

Open to Public
2023 Hallows Lecture: In Praise of Complexity and Contradiction in American Law
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Eckstein Hall
1215 W. Michigan St
Milwaukee, WI 53233
United States


In Praise of Complexity and Contradiction in American Law

Hon. Gerard E. Lynch
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Columbia Law School

Tuesday, March 7, 2023
4:30 to 5:30 pm ~ Lecture (1 CLE)
5:30 pm ~ Public Reception 
Ray and Kay Eckstein Hall  |  Lubar Center 

 — RSVP BY March 2 —

Ronald Dworkin maintained that the ideal judge should decide cases by finding the resolution best fitting with the overall structure of the law. Judge Lynch is not onboard. His critique is not that this is an impractical assignment—a task at which even Dworkin’s “Hercules” of a judge would fail. Rather, it is a categorically impossible assignment: There is no such structure, as American law is inherently the product of multiple forces interacting through widely diverse decisionmakers, who themselves are the products of different eras, regions, and philosophies. And this is a good thing: We should be cautious about trying to enforce unitary methodologies or a singular theory of legal decisionmaking on what is, beneath the level of the Supreme Court, a politically diverse judiciary.

The Hon. Gerard E. Lynch serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He was previously (2000–2009) a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and the Paul J. Kellner Professor of Law at Columbia University, where he joined the faculty in 1977 and has continued regularly to teach since taking the bench. His legal career began as a law clerk to Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the Second Circuit and to Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., of the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a lifelong New Yorker, graduating from Columbia Law School, Columbia College, and Regis High School, first in his class in each instance.

This annual lecture remembers E. Harold Hallows, a Milwaukee lawyer and a faculty member at Marquette Law School from 1930 to 1958 and a justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court from 1958 to 1974 (chief justice the last six years).

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