Top Legal Scholars to Speak at HWS – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Top Legal Scholars to Speak at HWS

On April 5 and 6, Yale Law School Professor Jules Coleman and former American Civil Liberties Union President Nadine Strossen, two of the nation’s top legal scholars, will speak about responsibility and fundamental freedoms.

“Having Jules Coleman and Nadine Strossen come to campus will provide the HWS community with a rare opportunity to hear from two of the nation’s preeminent legal scholars,” says Assistant Professor of Philosophy Eric Barnes. “Not only will these two speakers provide insight into the very foundations of our legal system, but they will also provide engaging and entertaining talks. They are both an absolute delight to listen to.”

Coleman, who is the Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld Professor of Jurisprudence and Professor of Philosophy at Yale Law School, will offer the first talk, titled “Puzzles about Responsibility,” on Thursday, April 5. The talk will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center.

“Jules Coleman will be investigating several tensions in our legal system regarding responsibility and financial liability,” explains Barnes, noting that Coleman will explore the nature of fairness and when people ought to be required by the government to pay compensation. 

Educated at Brooklyn College with a Ph.D. in philosophy from Rockefeller University and an M.S.L. from Yale Law School, Coleman teaches in the areas of philosophy of law; torts; law, language and truth; political philosophy; and rational choice. He is the author of “Hart’s Postscript,” “The Practice of Principle;” and co-author of “Oxford Handbook of Jurisprudence and the Philosophy of Law.”

Strossen, a professor of law at New York Law School, was the first woman ever to lead the ACLU. She will offer a talk, titled “Advocating for Fundamental Freedoms,” on Friday, April 6. The talk will take place at 4:45 p.m. in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center.

“Nadine Strossen will be surveying a wide range of issues concerning individual liberty, defending the rights of those with unpopular opinions, restrictions on rights in the post 9/11 world, and hate speech,” says Barnes. “She will also be discussing her experiences as the director of the American Civil Liberty Union from 1991 to 2008, and reflecting on the responsibility of lawyers and citizens in general.”

Strossen served as the president of the ACLU for nearly 18 years. Prior to becoming a law professor, she practiced law for nine years in her hometown of Minneapolis and in New York City. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Both speakers are being brought to campus in connection with the upcoming international Round Robin Invitational that the HWS Debate team is hosting for the sixth year in partnership with the International Debate Education Association (IDEA).

The event annually brings together an elite and internationally diverse group of debaters and adjudicators for a weekend of debate at the highest level. Previous winners include teams from Oxford, Harvard, Yale and Loyola Marymount University.

This year’s HWS/IDEA Round Robin Debate Tournament will be held from Thursday, April 5 – Saturday, April 7 with the final debate held at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center. The Colleges have received a grant from the Open Society Institute to support the event.

“This tournament has quickly become a very prestigious event on the collegiate debating circuit, attracting many of the best teams from across the country and around the globe,” says Assistant Professor of Philosophy Eric Barnes, coach and adviser to the HWS debate team.

The speakers, and the debate tournament, are cosponsored by the HWS Debate Team and Open Society Foundations.