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Spring 2023 Reading Group

Competing Values: Freedom, Equality, Property, & Democracy

Prerequisite: None

Exam Type: No Exam

This reading group will cover a variety of current and enduring questions involving fundamental issues of freedom, equality, property, and democracy. We will focus on legal issues involving race, sex, sexual orientation, religious liberty, tribal sovereignty, the American rejection of titles of nobility, and inequality in access to income and wealth. Issues addressed include conflict of laws about slavery and abortion, religious and free speech claims to exemptions from antidiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ persons, federal limitations on tribal courts, the historical legal changes connected to the Constitution’s rejection of titles of nobility. Each of these issues reflects fundamental normative clashes between competing values and between competing groups and ways of life. How does American legal discourse structure debates about political and legal issues in the face of fundamental disagreements? What resources can help specify the meaning of shared values when society is confronted with conflicting interpretations of those shared values? What does it mean to have the rule of law in a free and democratic society that shows equal concern and respect for all persons? 

There will be no exam or written work required but reading will include several legal history books, and some cases and law review articles.

Note: This reading group will meet on the following dates: 1/24, 2/7, 2/21, 3/7, 3/21, 4/4.