On March 14, Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law welcomed Richard A. Epstein, Inaugural Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law, as a guest speaker for the 2016 Chapman Dialogue Lecture Series. His presentation, “Justice Scalia’s Jurisprudential Legacy of Property Rights,” was followed by a discussion with Fowler School of Law Associate Dean Donald Kochan, and a lively question and answer session with the approximately 100 student and faculty guests.
Professor Epstein opened with some remarks on the jurisprudence and influence of the late Justice Scalia, who had a substantial influence on the development of takings law and property rights during his tenure on the United States Supreme Court, before moving toward a more particularized study of his influence in property rights cases.
To fully understand Justice Scalia’s decisions, Professor Epstein noted that all of Justice Scalia’s property rights decisions were in some way influenced by his philosophy of judicial restraint and his study as a public law lawyer rather than developing expertise with private law. Each tendency served to constrain his view of property rights in his decisions more so than Professor Epstein might in deciding those cases. Professor Epstein began his analysis of the jurisprudence by describing the historical antecedents presented to Justice Scalia as he and other members of the court have struggled to make sense of property rights law across the years.
After describing this “state of play” present when Justice Scalia joined the court, Professor Epstein dissected several of Justice Scalia’s property rights opinions, including those issued in
Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council
Nollan v. California Coastal Commission
Pennell v. San Jose
. Professor Epstein analyzed the cases and Justice Scalia’s reasoning in them to help the audience better understand his jurisprudential legacy. Professor Epstein also delighted the audience with his own critique of each of these cases. Along the way, Professor Epstein articulated what he believes is a more coherent view of the takings clause (including its related effects on exactions law and unconstitutional conditions), focusing on the ways in which it acts as a price system that seeks the right resource allocation, with costs to the public that deter bad actions (those the public values less than the private owners) and yet also lead to compensation when actions are taken that the public values more than the private owner.
Richard A. Epstein is the inaugural Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at NYU School of Law. He has served as the Peter and Kirstin Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution since 2000. Epstein is also the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law Emeritus and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago. His initial law school appointment was at the University of Southern California from 1968 to 1972. Epstein received an LLD,
, from the University of Ghent in 2003. He has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1985 and has been a senior fellow of the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago Division of Biological Sciences, also since 1983. He served as editor of the
Journal of Legal Studies
from 1981 to 1991, and of the
Journal of Law and Economics
from 1991 to 2001. From 2001 to 2010, he was a director of the John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics at the University of Chicago.
He has written more than a dozen books, the newest being
The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government
(Harvard U. Press, 2014). Epstein has also written numerous articles on a wide range of legal and interdisciplinary subjects. He has taught courses in administrative law, antitrust law, civil procedure, communications law, constitutional law, contracts, corporations, criminal law, employment discrimination law, environmental law, food and drug law, health law and policy, legal history, labor law, property, real estate development and finance, jurisprudence, labor law, land use planning, patents, individual, estate and corporate taxation, Roman Law, torts, water law and workers’ compensation.
About the Chapman Dialogue Lecture Series
The Chapman Dialogue Lecture Series is a special lineup of distinguished lectures by innovative and thought-provoking legal scholars as well as some of the nation’s most prominent legal practitioners. Invited speakers present their research and ideas to a wide audience of faculty, students, alumni and special guests. Each Dialogue concludes with a lively Question and Answer session, typically led by one or two discussants from among the Fowler School of Law faculty.