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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

A Sensible Anti-Abortion Policy

(82) Comments | Posted December 18, 2014 | 10:33 AM

Each year in the United States, there are approximately 6.7 million pregnancies. Of these, roughly half are unintended. More than a third of all unintended pregnancies end in abortion. As a result, approximately 1 million women in the United States have an abortion each year.

Unmarried women are five...

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Obama Africanus the First

(349) Comments | Posted December 6, 2014 | 7:42 PM

I've been thinking lately about the persistently vituperative and insulting attacks on President Obama since 2008. It is, of course, commonplace in American politics for presidents to be lambasted for their policies, their programs, their values, and even their personal quirks. Sometimes the tone crosses the line. John Adams was...

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Are the President's Actions on Immigration Legal?

(148) Comments | Posted November 21, 2014 | 10:38 AM

Questions have been raised about the legality of the executive actions recently taken by President Obama in the domain of immigration policy. A group of legal and constitutional scholars, from such institutions as Harvard, Yale, Chicago, and Columbia, have looked into this question. Without expressing any view on the merits...

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Enact the USA Freedom Act

(6) Comments | Posted November 14, 2014 | 10:53 PM

Next week, the Senate is scheduled to take up the proposed USA Freedom Act. It is imperative that the Senate approve this legislation.

The USA Freedom Act addresses many of the issues raised by the NSA's program of bulk telephone metadata collection. This program, which has caused such consternation, was...

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The Senate: A Republican 'Landslide'?

(224) Comments | Posted November 6, 2014 | 3:44 PM

The news has been filled lately with assertions that the Republicans won the Senate in "a landslide" and that the 2014 Senate election was "a complete repudiation of President Obama." If one looks at the change in the makeup of the Senate, this seems a fair assessment.

Going into...

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The Imitation Game

(1) Comments | Posted November 6, 2014 | 12:05 AM

The other day I had the privilege of attending an advance screening of the forthcoming movie The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. I am not a movie reviewer, so I will not offer an evaluation of the movie -- other than to say that it is superb.

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Same-Sex Marriage and the Dangers of Dawdling

(24) Comments | Posted October 7, 2014 | 9:27 AM

Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided not to decide any of the pending cases involving the constitutionality of laws denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry. In all of these cases, federal courts of appeals had held the challenged state laws unconstitutional. What does it mean that the Supreme Court declined...

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Our Politically Polarized Supreme Court?

(107) Comments | Posted September 25, 2014 | 8:58 AM

In a recent public appearance, Chief Justice John Roberts expressed concern about the extreme polarization and partisanship that have gripped the other branches of the federal government. He was particularly concerned that, because of the increasingly partisan nature of the Supreme Court nomination and confirmation process, Americans might get the...

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The Rift in the ACLU Over Free Speech

(80) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 9:13 PM

In the context of ongoing deliberations over a proposed amendment to the Constitution to authorize the government to enact laws regulating campaign expenditures and contributions, a sharp, even bitter, rift has emerged between different generations of the ACLU's leadership over the ACLU's understanding of the First Amendment. The rift is...

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Religious Tests for Public Office and the Constitution

(37) Comments | Posted July 14, 2014 | 12:56 PM

A recent Washington Post article reported that the state constitutions of eight states -- Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas -- expressly prohibit individuals who do not believe in God from holding public office.

The Arkansas constitution, for example, provides that "no person who...

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Understanding the Supreme Court's Abortion-Protest Decision

(76) Comments | Posted June 27, 2014 | 5:12 PM

In yesterday's decision in McCullen v. Coakley, the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of a Massachusetts statute that made it a crime for any person knowingly to stand on a "public way or sidewalk" within 35 feet of an entrance or driveway to any place, other than a hospital, where...

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Justice Scalia, Religion, and the Failure of Legal Reasoning

(63) Comments | Posted June 17, 2014 | 2:11 PM

One of my former law professors, Harry Kalven, liked to say that "law is the process of choosing among competing analogies." At its core, legal reasoning is about trying to find insight, or logic, or common sense by comparing different situations and then striving to identify the most important similarities...

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Life in the Most Religious States

(228) Comments | Posted June 14, 2014 | 11:48 AM

I recently came across a list of the ten most religious states in America. They are, in order: Mississippi, Utah, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Oklahoma.

One might assume that life in the most religious states in the nation would approximate the idealized "City upon...

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Do We Need the Supreme Court?

(345) Comments | Posted May 22, 2014 | 9:50 AM

In our system of government, the Supreme Court has the authority to declare laws unconstitutional. In our nation's formative years, this authority -- the power of "judicial review" -- was seen as an essential check against the dangers of unrestrained democracy. As James Madison explained when he proposed the Bill...

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The National Review, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Affirmative Action

(114) Comments | Posted April 24, 2014 | 2:48 PM

In a stunningly insulting editorial, the National Review attacked Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor for her opinion dissenting from the Supreme Court's recent decision upholding the constitutionality of a state's ban on affirmative action. The National Review decried Sotomayor's opinion as "Orwellian," as "legally illiterate and logically indefensible," and as...

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Politics, the Constitution and the Roberts Court

(155) Comments | Posted April 20, 2014 | 1:49 AM

When I was a law student at the University of Chicago in the late 1960s, I had the great privilege as having Philip Kurland as one of my constitutional law professors. Kurland was one of the most distinguished constitutional scholars of his generation. He was also, by the standards of...

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What I Told the NSA

(7) Comments | Posted March 31, 2014 | 6:55 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 | 3:54 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 | 7:54 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 | 1:45 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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