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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Legal History Workshop on October 21

The Legal History Workshop will take place on Monday, October 21 in room 15 of Mondale Hall from 2:00-3:25pm. At this session, Laura Weinrib , Associate Professor of History, University of Chicago Law School will be presenting a "From Left to Rights" (the final chapter of her book project, The Taming of Free Speech).

Abstract: The Taming of Free Speech traces the emergence between World War I and World War II of a constitutional concept of civil liberties, enforced by the courts, which protected speakers and ideas regardless of their popularity or perceived legitimacy. When the ACLU was founded in the aftermath of the First World War, it declared itself an adjunct of the radical labor movement and championed a "right of agitation" that encompassed the rights to organize, picket, and strike. During the 1920s and 1930s, the organization's work in such fields as academic and artistic freedom made civil liberties palatable to conservative proponents of individual rights. When the judiciary came under attack in the 1930s, conservatives justified judicial review by celebrating the ACLU-sponsored civil liberties victories they had previously denounced. This chapter, "From Left to Rights," picks up in the aftermath of West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish and the failure of the court-packing plan. As business groups and the bar reluctantly accepted judicial deference to economic regulation, they asked the courts to ensure open channels for opposition to New Deal programs in the workplace and in the public sphere. Faced with NLRB restrictions on employers'anti-union speech, corporate lawyers exchanged the discredited language of substantive due process for the very vocabulary that the ACLU had supplied. In other words, the"constitutional revolution" was marked by constitutional compromise. The ACLU had succeeded in making civil liberties a neutral commitment, not an adjunct of economic rights. In the process, it had made free speech an effective tool for the Right.
Light snacks and refreshments will be served. A full schedule of the workshops for the fall semester is available here:LHW FALL 2013.Speaker Schedule.doc along with Professor Premo's paper:Weinrib Paper.pdf. Hard copies of the paper can be obtained from Stephanie McCauley in the Dean's Suite of the Law School.