Annual Kissel Lecture in Ethics with Linda Greenhouse


Thursday, February 7, 2019, 5:00pm to 6:30pm


Langdell North - 225 Vorenberg, Harvard Law School

updated greenhouse poster

Title: The Supreme Court's Threat to Civil Society.  

Abstract: Greenhouse looks critically at recent decisions including Janus v. AFSCME; Masterpiece Cakeshop; Hobby Lobby; and the Little Sisters of the Poor Litigation, in which the Supreme Court empowered -- indeed, invited -- individuals to opt out of the rules by which the rest of us have agreed to be governed. Respecting claims of conscience is of course an essential element of civil society. But honoring such claims selectively, while failing to give weight to the foreseeable burdens on third parties, can accelerate the descent into the tribalism with which American society is threatened today.

Linda Greenhouse is the Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law and Knight Distinguished Journalist-in-Residence at Yale Law School. She assumed this position in 2009 after a 40-year career at the New York Times, including 30 years covering the United States Supreme Court. At Yale, she is a member of the faculty of the Supreme Court Advocacy Clinic and teaches other Supreme Court-related courses. She writes a bi-weekly op-ed column on the Supreme Court and law for the New York Times web site as a contributing columnist. In her extracurricular life, she is president of the American Philosophical Society and serves on several nonprofit boards. She is a graduate of Radcliffe College, Harvard, and earned a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School.

She received numerous journalism awards for her reporting, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1998 (beat reporting); the Carey McWilliams Award from the American Political Science Association in 2002 for “a major journalistic contribution to our understanding of politics”; and the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism from Harvard University’s Kennedy School in 2004. Her newest book, published in October 2017 by Harvard University Press, is a brief memoir, Just a Journalist. Other books include The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right (with Michael J. Graetz), The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press); a biography of Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Becoming Justice Blackmun; and Before Roe v. Wade: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling (with Reva B. Siegel).

The Kissel Lecture in Ethics is named for the late Lester Kissel, a graduate of Harvard Law School and longtime benefactor of Harvard University's ethics programs and activities.