Justin Driver - "The Schoolhouse Gate" - Martha C. Nussbaum

Thursday, October 4, 2018 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Justin Driver

“Justin Driver’s extraordinary book, The Schoolhouse Gate, deeply probes the many ways in which our constitutional law, as interpreted by America’s judges, shapes the crucial world of public education—but fails the students for whom that education exists. No one who cares about our nation’s children and thus our country’s future can afford not to read this riveting work.” —Laurence Tribe, Harvard Law School, author of Uncertain Justice: The Roberts Court and the Constitution

“It's pretty unusual to be moved to tears by a closely argued book on constitutional law. But Driver's The Schoolhouse Gate is a most unusual book. Written with elegance and passion, Driver's account of the role of the U. S. Supreme Court in defining the rights of students in our public schools is also an uncompromising work of meticulous scholarship, which will define our understanding of its topic for years to come. But there's something more: there's an indefinable quality of hope and love in this book, for our flawed yet aspiring processes of constitutional adjudication, as well as for the millions of children whose futures they shape.” —Martha C. Nussbaum, University of Chicago, author of The Fragility of Goodness

Justin Driver discusses The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind. He will be joined in conversation by Martha C. Nussbaum. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

Presented in partnership with the Chicago Lawyer and Law School Chapters of the American Constitution Society.

At the Co-op

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested, not required.)

About the book: Judicial decisions assessing the constitutional rights of students in the nation’s public schools have consistently generated bitter controversy. From racial segregation to unauthorized immigration, from antiwar protests to compulsory flag salutes, from economic inequality to teacher-led prayer: these are but a few of the cultural anxieties dividing American society that the Supreme Court has addressed in elementary and secondary schools. The Schoolhouse Gate gives a fresh, lucid, and provocative account of the historic legal battles waged over education and illuminates contemporary disputes that continue to fracture the nation.

Justin Driver maintains that since the 1970s the Supreme Court has regularly abdicated its responsibility for protecting students’ constitutional rights and risked transforming public schools into Constitution-free zones. Students deriving lessons about citizenship from the Court’s decisions in recent decades would conclude that the following actions taken by educators pass constitutional muster: inflicting severe corporal punishment on students without any procedural protections; searching students and their possessions without probable cause in bids to uncover violations of school rules; random drug testing of students who are not suspected of wrongdoing; and suppressing student speech for the viewpoint it espouses. Taking their cue from such decisions, lower courts have upheld a wide array of dubious school actions, including degrading strip searches; repressive dress codes; draconian “zero tolerance” disciplinary policies; and severe restrictions on off-campus speech.

Driver surveys this legal landscape with eloquence, highlights the gripping personal narratives behind landmark clashes, and warns that the repeated failure to honor students’ rights threatens our basic constitutional order. This magisterial book will make it impossible to view American schools—or America itself—in the same way again.

About the author: Justin Driver is the Harry N. Wyatt Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. A graduate of Oxford (where he was a Marshall Scholar) and Harvard Law School (where he edited the Harvard Law Review), Driver clerked on the Supreme Court for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Justice Stephen Breyer. A recent recipient of the American Society for Legal History's William Nelson Cromwell Article Prize, Driver has a distinguished publication record in the nation's leading law reviews. He has also written extensively for lay audiences, including pieces in Slate, The Washington Post, and The New Republic, where he was a contributing editor. Driver serves on the Academic Advisory Board for the American Constitution Society, a leading progressive legal organization and counterweight to the Federalist Society. His work has been cited in many popular publications, including The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, USA Today, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Driver also received a master's degree in education from Duke, and has taught civics and American history to high school students.

About the interlocutor: Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Philosophy Department and the Law School of the University of Chicago. She gave the 2016 Jefferson Lecture for the National Endowment for the Humanities and won the 2016 Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy, which is regarded as the most prestigious award available in fields not eligible for a Nobel. She has written more than twenty-two books, including Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions; Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice; Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities; and many more.

Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637