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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

Academic Freedom and the Meaning of Courage

(11) Comments | Posted August 25, 2015 | 5:07 PM

Sometimes, it takes courage to stand up for academic freedom.

Three months ago I posted an article addressing academic freedom issues that had arisen at Northwestern University. In that piece, I related an incident involving Alice Dreger, William Peace, and an issue of the journal Atrium.


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Dump the Trump

(266) Comments | Posted August 6, 2015 | 12:08 AM

The American news media love Donald Trump. He gets them ratings. If they show him waving his arms and ranting, they get viewers. They therefore pretend that Trump is a serious candidate because putting him on the airwaves making moronic and offensive comments is entertaining. But presidential elections are not...

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The Same-Sex Marriage Decision: What to Make of the Dissenters

(199) Comments | Posted June 27, 2015 | 6:37 PM

A central complaint of the four justices who dissented from the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized a constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry, was their repeated assertion that the five justices in the majority were unabashedly -- and illegitimately -- distorting the "true" meaning of...

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Texas License Plates, the Confederate Flag and the Supreme Court

(81) Comments | Posted June 20, 2015 | 2:23 PM

Back in March, on the day the Supreme Court heard arguments in Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, I wrote a piece examining the "intriguing" First Amendment issue posed by the case. See here.

This week, the Court decided Walker in a sharply-divided five-to-four decision. Like many states,...

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Academic Freedom Under Siege

(56) Comments | Posted June 1, 2015 | 12:08 AM

Six weeks ago, Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro wrote a fine op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he offered a ringing endorsement of academic freedom. As he observed, a university must have "a compelling reason to punish anyone -- student, faculty member, staff member -- for expressing his...

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How to Find Common Ground on One of the Most Pressing Issues of Our Time

(24) Comments | Posted May 23, 2015 | 5:18 PM

During the five months that I worked on the five-member Review Group that President Obama appointed in August 2013 to review and make recommendations about the nation's various surveillance programs, I came to know General Keith Alexander, who served as Director of the NSA from 2005 to 2014. General Alexander...

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The Supreme Court in 2025

(47) Comments | Posted May 11, 2015 | 8:10 AM

The Supreme Court plays a central role in the American legal and political system. In recent years, it has decided profoundly important cases involving such issues as campaign finance regulation, the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the death penalty, the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, voting rights,...

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Intelligence Gathering, Secrecy and the Congress Problem

(15) Comments | Posted May 8, 2015 | 4:48 PM

In an important decision, a federal court of appeals held yesterday that the NSA's bulk collection of telephone metadata could not be squared with the legislation that was said to authorize it.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act authorizes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to issue orders requiring such...

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Getting to Same-Sex Marriage

(30) Comments | Posted April 25, 2015 | 5:58 PM

On April 22, I delivered the University of Chicago's annual Nora and Edward L. Ryerson Lecture on the subject of same-sex marriage. Because the Supreme Court will hear arguments on this issue on Tuesday, I thought I would post the core of the lecture here. It quite a bit longer...

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Texas License Plates and the Confederate Flag

(101) Comments | Posted March 23, 2015 | 1:10 PM

The Supreme Court heard arguments today in the case of Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans. The case poses an intriguing First Amendment question.

Like many states, Texas permits drivers to design specialty license plates bearing messages they want to promote. The states that do this do it largely as...

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Racist Rants and the University of Oklahoma: Getting It Wrong

(387) Comments | Posted March 11, 2015 | 8:05 AM

University of Oklahoma President David Boren has expelled two students, members of SAE fraternity, for participating in a racist rant on a bus. The rant included the following:

There will never be a nigger at SAE
There will never be a nigger at SAE
You can hang him...

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A Deadly Assault on Academic Freedom

(52) Comments | Posted February 28, 2015 | 4:38 PM

Recent events in the state of North Carolina pose a serious threat to academic freedom in our nation. America's universities are, by any measure, the best in the world. What has made that possible is our deep commitment to academic freedom. The recent decision of the Board of...

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Charlie Hebdo and the First Amendment

(106) Comments | Posted February 17, 2015 | 10:57 AM

After the murderous attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, one might wonder whether a newspaper that published the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in the United States would be protected by the First Amendment. The government might make two primary arguments in support of a law prohibiting the publication...

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Campus Sexual Assault

(68) Comments | Posted January 31, 2015 | 3:18 PM

The issue of campus sexual assault has received a great deal of attention in the media in recent months. This is warranted. There is a real problem on college and university campuses, and it is a problem that must be taken seriously. Rape and other forms of sexual violence and...

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Free Speech on Campus

(4) Comments | Posted January 7, 2015 | 7:40 AM

In light of recent events that have tested the commitment of colleges and universities across the nation to free and open discourse on campus, University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer appointed a faculty committee, chaired by me, to prepare a statement articulating the University of Chicago's commitment "to free,...

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A Sensible Anti-Abortion Policy

(84) Comments | Posted December 18, 2014 | 9:33 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

(345) Comments | Posted December 6, 2014 | 6:42 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 | 9:38 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 | 9:53 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'?

(225) Comments | Posted November 6, 2014 | 2:44 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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