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Speaker Series: Genevieve Lakier, University of Chicago Law School

  • When: April 18, 2018, 12–1:30 pm
  • Where: ABF Woods Conference Room, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor, Lakeside, Chicago IL 60611

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The Contested Conception of Equality in First Amendment Law

Although the text of the First Amendment speaks only of liberty, not equality, since the early twentieth century, the Supreme Court has recognized that implicit in the guarantee of freedom of speech is a guarantee of expressive equality. Today, equality plays a tremendously important role in First Amendment law. There is significant debate, however, both on and off the Court, about what it means to say that the First Amendment guarantees to individuals not only expressive liberty but expressive equality—or what the Court described at one point as “equality of status in the field of ideas” In this talk, I discuss the two conceptions of equality that inform free speech law and argue that one of the most important features of the Roberts Court’s approach to First Amendment questions is its embrace of a formal, as opposed to a substantive, conception of expressive equality. The formalism of the Court’s conception of expressive equality helps explain, I argue, many of the curious features of its free speech jurisprudence, but remains highly contested. 

Courtesy of the University of Chicago

Genevieve Lakier’s research explores the connections between culture and law. She is currently engaged in a long-term project exploring the cultural history of the First Amendment, and another project exploring the changing role of the state in the regulation of sex.

Genevieve has an AB from Princeton University, a JD from New York University School of Law, and an MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago. Between 2006 and 2008, she was an Academy Scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International and Area Studies at Harvard University. After law school, she clerked for Judge Leonard B. Sand of the Southern District of New York and Judge Martha C. Daughtrey of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Before joining the faculty, Genevieve taught at the Law School as a Bigelow Fellow and Lecturer in Law.

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