Law review


In the lobby of the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum downtown, about 60 people took their seats Thursday evening for a discussion with U of C Law professors Geoffrey Stone, JD’71, and Richard Epstein. The program involved a broad discussion of the John Roberts-led Supreme Court and more specific reflections on some of the 100-plus cases heard in the last year. “We have an extraordinarily conservative Supreme Court,” Stone said—despite, he conceded, what some feel are politically balanced outcomes decided by a 5–4 vote.

Epstein saw the Court’s future differently. “It’s a court that’s going to move further to the left,” he said, referring to the influential role of liberal Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy, Stone agreed, “is a coalition builder.”

Stone and Epstein discussed one of the year’s most controversial cases, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (.pdf), in which the court ruled that President Bush’s military commissions to try Guantanamo Bay detainees were illegal and violated the Geneva Conventions. The case was so important, Stone said, because the Bush administration’s use of “secret evidence to prosecute” detainees “was never before done in Anglo-American law.”

While taking several questions from the audience, Stone and Epstein discussed the Supreme Court’s decisions on affirmative action, eminent domain, and gay marriage. “Gay marriage is going to be accepted in the U.S. in the not too distant future,” Stone predicted. “It’s just a matter of when.”

Drawing laughter after a relatively serious discussion, Epstein commended the audience for its interest and attentiveness. “These are issues,” he admitted, “that put most people to sleep when you talk about them.”

Hassan S. Ali, ’07

Photo: Stone and Epstein discuss the Supreme Court at the Freedom Museum.

July 17, 2006