2020 David C. Baum Memorial Lecture on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
“The Forging of the First Amendment”
Laura Weinrib, Professor of Law
Harvard Law School and Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
January 29, 2020
Max L. Rowe Auditorium
Dissenting from the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME, Justice Elena Kagan accused the conservative justices of “weaponizing the First Amendment.” In this lecture, Laura Weinrib will argue that the judicial deployment of free speech to invalidate economic and regulatory policy is part and parcel of the First Amendment—not only, as Justice Kagan put it, “now and in the future,” but also in the past. Focusing on the 1920s and 1930s, when the Supreme Court first extended constitutional protection to free speech, Weinrib will explain why radical labor activists allied themselves with corporate lawyers to weaponize the First Amendment, and how their efforts backfired.
Free and open to the public. Lunch provided to lecture attendees.
Laura Weinrib is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. A legal historian, her scholarship explores how social movements have transformed constitutional categories to pursue political and economic change. She is the author of The Taming of Free Speech: America’s Civil Liberties Compromise (Harvard University Press, 2016), which traces the emergence during the first half of the twentieth century of a constitutional and court-centered concept of civil liberties as a defining feature of American democracy.
David C. Baum Memorial Lecture on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
The family and friends of David C. Baum endowed the David C. Baum Memorial Lecture on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights not only in his memory, but at his request.
Deep concern for the dignity and rights of all people was central to Professor Baum’s character and activities. After receiving his undergraduate and legal education at Harvard University, Professor Baum served as law clerk for Justice Walter V. Schaefer of the Illinois Supreme Court, 1959-60. He then practiced law with the Chicago firm of Ross, McGowan, Hardies and O’Keefe until he joined the faculty of the University of Illinois College of Law in 1963.
Professor Baum was an inspiration to his student and colleagues, not only because of the excellence of his teaching, scholarship, and public service, but because of his remarkable human qualities. Conscientious and judicious, blending passion for justice with dispassionate objectivity, he inspired the highest level of discourse and endeavor in all who had the privilege of knowing and working with him.
It is hoped that the David C. Baum Memorial Lecture on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights will constitute a fitting memorial to a man whose unrelenting intellectual vigor and moral commitment made his presence in the world of law invaluable.