Yale Law Professor Jack M. Balkin calls himself a constitutional originalist, but he doesn’t mean a Justice Antonin Scalia style of originalist who looks to the founders when confronting modern legal conundrums.
Balkin talks about “living originalism,” provocatively merging two supposedly antagonistic perspectives on constitutional interpretation. Besides, he has said, the late Scalia was a “fair-weather originalist” who would ignore that philosophy when it was inconvenient.
Balkin brings his insights to Tulane University Law School Feb. 22 for the Dermot S. McGlinchey Lecture on Federal Litigation, titled “Constitutional Time.“ The event, at 5 p.m., is open to the public in the Wendell H. Gauthier Moot Court Room 110 in John Giffen Weinmann Hall, 6329 Freret St.
A frequent writer and speaker on issues from freedom of speech and reproductive rights to Internet law, Balkin is Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale. He co-founded and directs Yale’s Information Society Project, an interdisciplinary center that studies law and new information technologies. And he directs the Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression and the Knight Law and Media Program at Yale.
He’s a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and author of more than 100 articles. He also started and edits the Balkinization blog and has written for publications including The New York Times, the New England Journal of Medicine, the American Prospect, the Atlantic Online, Washington Monthly, the New Republic Online and Slate. Among his books are Living Originalism; Constitutional Redemption: Political Faith in an Unjust World; The Constitution in 2020 (with Reva Siegel); Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking (5th ed. with Brest, Levinson, Amar and Siegel); Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology; The Laws of Change: I Ching and the Philosophy of Life; What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said; and What Roe v. Wade Should Have Said.
Balkin received his PhD in philosophy from Cambridge University and his AB and JD degrees from Harvard University. He served as a clerk for 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Carolyn D. King and practiced at Cravath, Swaine and Moore in New York City. He has been a law faculty member the University of Texas and the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a visiting professor at Harvard University, New York University, the Buchman Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University and the University of London.
The lecture honors Dermot S. McGlinchey (A&S ’54, L ’57), who was a leading lawyer and civic activist who devoted much of his adult life to promoting equal access to the courts. In 1986, he led the effort to revitalize the Louisiana Bar Foundation and was instrumental in forming the foundation’s Pro Bono Project. An ardent supporter of Tulane Law School, he served on the Dean’s Council, chairing its Development Committee, and was vice chairman of the Maritime Law Center endowment program and chairman of the law school’s building fund.
The McGlinchey Lecture is permanently endowed and sponsored by the McGlinchey Stafford firm, which Dermot McGlinchey co-founded with Graham Stafford in 1974. McGlinchey Stafford has offices in eight states and Washington, D.C.