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Geoffrey R. Stone
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Geoffrey R. Stone is the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. From 1987 to 1994 he served as Dean of the University of Chicago Law School and from 1994 to 2002 he served as Provost of the University of Chicago. He is currently Chair of the Board of the American Constitution Society. His most recent book is Speaking Out: Reflections on Law, Liberty and Justice (2010). Stone's other recent books include is Top Secret: When the Government Keeps Us in the Dark (2007), War and Liberty: An American Dilemma (2007) and Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime (2004), which received the Robert F. Kennedy National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for the Best Book of the Year in History, the Political Science Association's Award for the Best Book of the Year in Political Science, and Harvard University's Award for the Best Book in the Year in Public Affairs. Stone is currently chief editor of a fifteen-volume series, Inalienable Rights, which is being published by Oxford University Press between 2006 and 2013. Among the authors in this series are Richard Posner, Alan Dershowitz, Larry Tribe, and Martha Nussbaum. Stone is currently working on a new book, Sexing the Constitution. You can email him at

Entries by Geoffrey R. Stone

What I Told the NSA

(7) Comments | Posted March 31, 2014 | 5:55 PM

Because of my service on the President's Review Group last fall, which made recommendations to the president about NSA surveillance and related issues, the NSA invited me to speak today to the NSA staff at the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, about my work on the Review Group and...

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Celebrating Sullivan: The Central Meaning of the First Amendment

(19) Comments | Posted March 9, 2014 | 2:54 PM

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in New York Times v. Sullivan, perhaps the most important First Amendment case in American history. In the words of the great First Amendment scholar Alexander Meiklejohn, the decision was "an occasion for dancing in the streets." Why was...

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The Noose, Ole Miss, and Free Speech

(128) Comments | Posted February 20, 2014 | 6:54 AM

A few days ago on the campus of the University of Mississippi, someone (reportedly two males) draped a Confederate flag on a statue honoring James Meredith and hung a noose around its neck. Meredith was the African-American student who courageously desegregated the University of Mississippi in 1962, weathering a storm...

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The President and the NSA

(35) Comments | Posted January 19, 2014 | 12:45 AM

In his January 17 speech on the NSA, President Obama observed that, "In our rush to respond to a very real and novel set of threats" after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, "the risk of government overreach -- the possibility" that we might inadvertently "lose some of our...

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The NSA's Telephone Metadata Program Is Unconstitutional

(34) Comments | Posted January 9, 2014 | 5:59 PM

In my last post, I concluded that the NSA's bulk telephony metadata program is a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. But because the Fourth Amendment prohibits only unreasonable searches, the next question is whether the program is "unreasonable." This turns out to be a rather...

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Is the NSA's Bulk Telephony Meta-Data Program Constitutional: PART II

(44) Comments | Posted January 6, 2014 | 11:12 AM

In my last post, I described the evolution of Fourth Amendment doctrine to set the stage for analysis of the constitutionality of the NSA's bulk telephony meta-data program. As we saw, in thinking about the Fourth Amendment the initial question turns on the meaning of the word "search."

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Is the NSA's Bulk Telephony Metadata Program Constitutional?

(125) Comments | Posted January 3, 2014 | 2:17 PM

In my last three posts, I described the NSA's bulk telephony meta-data program, examined its pros and cons, and explained the recommendations of the President's Review Group.

In this post, I consider the constitutionality of the bulk telephony meta-data program, as it currently exists. This issue has garnered considerable attention...

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The NSA's Telephone Meta-Data Program: Part III

(25) Comments | Posted December 31, 2013 | 10:47 AM

In my last post, I explored the pros and cons of the NSA's bulk telephony meta-data program. As I reported, after considering all the competing interests and perspectives, the Review Group concluded that, in light of the availability of other means by which the government could achieve its...

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The NSA's Telephone Meta-Data Program: Part II

(49) Comments | Posted December 28, 2013 | 9:58 AM

In my last post (The NSA's Telephone Meta-data Program: Part I) I explained the nature and operation of the NSA's bulk telephony meta-data program. In this post, I will examine the government's arguments for the meta-data program and the Review Group's analysis of those arguments.

In defending...

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The NSA's Telephone Meta-data Program: Part I

(49) Comments | Posted December 25, 2013 | 9:04 AM

In my last post I explained a bit about what it was like to serve as one of the five members of the President's Review Group that was charged this fall with the responsibility of making recommendations about NSA surveillance and related issues. At the end of that...

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Inside the President's Review Group: Protecting Security and Liberty

(23) Comments | Posted December 21, 2013 | 8:59 AM

On August 27, President Obama met in the White House Situation Room with the five members of his newly appointed Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies.

The members were Richard Clarke, a former member of the National Security Council; Michael Morell, a former Deputy Director and Acting Director...

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The Nuclear Option: A Sad Day for America

(1003) Comments | Posted November 23, 2013 | 9:53 AM

Why did the Democrats in the Senate enact the so-called "nuclear option"? In the Senate, unlike the House of Representatives, a minority of Senators can prevent a vote on proposed legislation, presidential nominations or other legislative action by engaging in a filibuster. Traditionally, as in the wonderful James Stewart movie...

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The Difference Between Conservative and Liberal Justices

(207) Comments | Posted November 2, 2013 | 6:21 PM

This is just a tidbit, but it is revealing. Each Justice of the United States Supreme Court has four law clerks. Law clerks are recent law school graduates who serve for one year as a legal assistant to a Supreme Court Justice. Law clerks are very important to the work...

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House Republicans and the Betrayal of Democracy

(2701) Comments | Posted October 1, 2013 | 11:37 PM

A threat is an expression of intention to inflict harm on others unless the target of the threat agrees to do what the person making the threat demands. A threat uses coercion rather than persuasion to effect change. As a general rule, democratic governments do not negotiate with those who...

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Stop-and-Frisk: Why We Have Courts

(974) Comments | Posted August 13, 2013 | 12:27 AM

Every once in a while, I burst with pride in the American legal system. It doesn't happen as often as I would like, but Monday was such a day.

On Monday, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, a federal judge in New York City, handed down her decision in Floyd v. The...

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Understanding Cause and Effect

(194) Comments | Posted July 27, 2013 | 1:38 PM

How do we know when to abandon a successful policy? At first blush, this might seem a contradiction in terms. Why would one ever abandon a successful policy? But most policies have costs as well as benefits, and at a certain point one might decide that the ongoing costs outweigh...

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Race in America: A More Perfect Union?

(865) Comments | Posted July 21, 2013 | 2:19 AM

In his eloquent remarks the other day about Trayvon Martin, President Barack Obama closed by noting that, although we have a long way to go before we resolve the issue of race in America, we have made progress. We are not yet, he said, a "perfect Union," but we have...

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Reflections on the FISA Court

(304) Comments | Posted July 5, 2013 | 4:50 PM

Before 1978, the federal government assumed that agencies like the NSA and the FBI could legally carry out wiretaps and other forms of electronic surveillance against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the United States without any prior judicial approval. The assumption was that the invocation of "national security" was sufficient...

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Same-Sex Marriage as of... Now

(262) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 8:19 PM

What did the Supreme Court do in its decisions on same-sex marriage?

First, in a five-to-four decision, the Court, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, held that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. In reaching this result, Justice Kennedy emphasized that he was focusing on the peculiarity that...

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Affirmative Action and the Future

(24) Comments | Posted June 25, 2013 | 7:52 PM

What follows is a condensed version of a statement by a group of constitutional scholars offering an explanation and assessment of the Supreme Court's decision on affirmative action in Monday's decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin:

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Fisher...

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