Constitutional scholar to address free speech on campus Nov. 20

Erwin Chemerinsky

Controversial speakers and their opponents have entangled campuses across the country in fraught, sometimes violent clashes. When speakers with provocative or biased viewpoints come knocking, should universities welcome them and safeguard their right to speak?

Constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law at the University of California, Berkeley, will address that question and more when he speaks on “Free Speech on Campus” Nov. 20, 6:30-8 p.m. at Statler Hall’s Alice Statler Auditorium. The lecture will be livestreamed on CornellCast.

Chemerinsky, co-author of the book “Free Speech on Campus,” argues that institutions of higher learning must find a way to create supportive academic environments for all students while also steadfastly upholding the value of free expression and a willingness to engage across the boundaries of opposing viewpoints.

His talk is the first in a series initiated by President Martha E. Pollack that will address the climate of university campuses across the nation. The Free Speech series is co-sponsored by the Cornell Law School.

“Erwin Chemerinsky is one of the most knowledgeable and articulate scholars of free speech on college campuses today,” Pollack said. “His work has helped to inform my own thinking on this critical topic, and I am delighted that he is coming to Cornell to share his insights with our campus community.”

Chemerinsky became the 13th dean of Berkeley Law in 2017. Previously he was the founding dean, distinguished professor of law and the Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law at University of California, Irvine, School of Law, with a joint appointment in political science. Before that he was the Alston and Bird Professor of Law and Political Science at Duke University from 2004 to 2008, and from 1983 to 2004 was a professor at the University of Southern California Law School, including as the Sydney M. Irmas Professor of Public Interest Law, Legal Ethics and Political Science. He also has taught at the DePaul University College of Law and UCLA School of Law. He teaches constitutional law, First Amendment law, federal courts, criminal procedure and appellate litigation.

He is the author of 10 books, including “The Case Against the Supreme Court” (2014) and two books published in 2017: “Closing the Courthouse Doors: How Your Constitutional Rights Became Unenforceable” and “Free Speech on Campus,” co-written with Howard Gillman, chancellor and professor of law, political science and history at the University of California, Irvine. He also is the author of more than 200 law review articles. He writes a weekly column for the Sacramento Bee, monthly columns for the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal and the Daily Journal, and op-eds in newspapers across the country. He frequently argues appellate cases, including in the United States Supreme Court.

In 2016, Chemerinsky was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In January 2017, National Jurist magazine named him the most influential person in legal education in the United States.

The next event in the Free Speech Presidential Speaker Series will be a conversation between two speakers with differing viewpoints on the limits of free speech, planned for April 10, 2018.

This article is written by Susan Kelley and was originally published in the Cornell Chronicle on 

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