Harvard Law School's Joseph Singer on "Judging as Judgment"

  • 04 Oct 2018
  • 5:30 PM
  • Jenner & Block, 353 N. Clark St.

a lecture by

Joseph Singer
Bussey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School


Jenner & Block, 353 N. Clark St.

Free and open to the public. Registration is required.
Presented by the Lumen Christi Institute.
Cosponsored by the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago and Jenner & Block LLP.



5:00pm  Registration & Refreshments

5:30pm  Welcome & Introduction

5:35pm "Judging as Judgment"

6:20pm Audience Q&A 

6:30pm  Reception

7:30pm End

When a case is easy, judges can act like umpires. But when a case is hard, judges cannot simply apply the rules - they have to exercise judgment. We pretend that judges don’t make law in order to ensure that they are sufficiently responsive to social and political norms and to elected representatives. But contrary to popular belief, the rule of law does not require judges to refrain from judgment. What the rule of law requires is that judges give impartial reasons for their decisions. And judges can only do that if they attend carefully to the normative arguments on both sides of hard cases and give reasons that could or should be accepted by the losing side.

Joseph William Singer is the Bussey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he has taught since 1992. He holds a BA from Williams College, an AM in political science from Harvard, and a JD from Harvard Law School. He teaches and writes about property law, conflict of laws, and federal Indian law. He also writes about legal theory with an emphasis on moral and political philosophy. Singer has published more than 80 law review articles, and is one of the executive editors of the 2012 edition of Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law (with 2015 Supplement). Singer has written a casebook and a treatise on property law, as well as No Freedom Without Regulation: The Hidden Lesson of the Subprime Crisis (2015), Entitlement: The Paradoxes of Property (2000), and The Edges of the Field: Lessons on the Obligations of Ownership (2000).