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Owen J. Roberts Lecture

The Owen J. Roberts Memorial Lecture in Constitutional Law

A memorial to the esteemed jurist and former Law School dean, the Owen J. Roberts Lecture in Constitutional Law established an annual lectureship to be delivered by “a nationally prominent person, in either public or academic life, who might be expected to make a significant contribution in legal thought.”

At its formation in 1956, the lecture series was jointly sponsored by the Law School and its Chapter of the Order of the Coif. The sponsorship group later expanded to include the Law School’s Alumni Society. Since 1974, the law firm of Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, LLP, which Roberts founded, has funded an endowment to assure the long-term continuation of the lecture series.

The Roberts Lecture is considered the foremost endowed lectureship at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. Over the years the Roberts Lectureship has brought to the Law School such distinguished jurists and scholars as Felix Frankfurter, Antonin Scalia, William Hastie, Louis Pollak, Herbert Wechsler, Archibald Cox, Paul Freund, Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, Guido Calabresi, and Kathleen Sullivan.


2021-2022 Owen J. Roberts Lecture

“Implicit Bias, Structural Bias, and Implications for Law and Policy” The Hon. Goodwin Liu

Wednesday, April 13, 2022
4:00 PM
Fitts Auditorium


The Honorable Goodwin H. Liu

Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court; former Professor of Law and Associate Dean of UC Berkeley School of Law


Past Roberts Lectures

2020 “Abolition Constitutionalism”
Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology; the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights; Professor of Africana Studies
2018 “A Celebration of 25 Years on the Supreme Court of the United States”
A Conversation Between Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and National Constitution Center President & CEO Jeffrey Rosen
2017 None
2016 None
2015 “To Adjust These Clashing Interests”: Negotiation and Compromise as Core Constitutional Values
Larry Kramer, President of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Former Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School
2014 The Puzzling Place of Coercion in Constitutional Analysis: From the Lindbergh Kidnapping to Obamacare to Fighting HIV/AIDS Without Protesting Prostitution
Laurence H. Tribe, Carl M. Loeb Professor of Harvard University
2013 Language, Law and Human Rights
Amartya Sen, Thomas W. Lamont University Professor & Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University
2012 Standing in Law and Standing in Politics: The Rules That Determine Who Gets Heard
Professor Michael Ignatieff, Massey College at the University of Toronto
2011 The Decline and Fall of the American Republic
Bruce Ackerman, Yale Law School, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science
2010 Judge Henry Friendly and the Craft of Deciding Cases
The Honorable Michael Boudin
Lecture Program
2008 The National Security Constitution in an Age of Globalization
Dean Harold Hongju Koh
Lecture Program
2007 The Battle Against Terror: The Judicial Role
Justice Aharon Barak
Lecture Program
2006 Tells of South Africa’s Journey from Apartheid to Democracy
Justice Richard J. Goldstone
Lecture Program
2005 Constitutional Scholar Cautions Against Bending the Constitution to Fight Terrorism
Professor Kathleen M. Sullivan
Lecture Program
2004 Reflections on Judging: At Home and Abroad
The Honorable Patricia M. Wald
2003 Defend the Constitution from Revisionists
Justice Antonin Scalia
2002 The Current Subtle—and Not So Subtle—Rejection of an Independent Judiciary
The Honorable Guido Calabresi
2000 On Being a Religious Professional: The Religious Turn in Professional Ethics
Professor Martha L. Minow
1999 Diversity
Professor Sanford V. Levinson
1998 Impeaching the President
Professor Cass Sunstein
1997 Must Judges Really Be Philosophers?
Professor Ronald Dworkin
Philadelphia Lawyer: A Cautionary Tale
The Honorable Louis H. Pollak
Professor Stephen L. Carter
1994 The Civility Required in Public Discourse and the Ideals of Reason in Political Life
Professor John Rawls
1993 Human Rights, Rationality and Sentimentality
Professor Richard Rorty
1992 Convention for a Democratic South Africa
The Honorable Ismail Mohomed
1991 Intentionalism, History, and Legitimacy
The Honorable John J. Gibbons
1989 Local Rules as Experiments: A Study in the Division of Power
Professor A. Leo Levin
1988 Can Lawyers Be Trusted?
Professor Sissela Bok
1987 The Religion Clauses — The Past and the Future
The Honorable Arlin M. Adams
1986 Justice, Expediency, and Beauty
Professor Louis B. Schwartz
1985 Rising Above Principle
Professor Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr.
1984 Party Government under the American Constitution
Lloyd N. Cutler, Esquire
1983 Striking the Balance: Congress and the President Under the War Powers Resolution
The Honorable Cyrus R. Vance
1982 The Uses of Ambivalence: Reflections on the Supreme Court and the Constitutionality of Affirmative Action
Professor Paul J. Mishkin
1981 A French Lawyer Looks at American Corporation Law and Securities Regulation
Professor Andre Tunc
1980 Bureaucratic Justice: An Early Warning
The Honorable Wade H. McCree, Jr.
1979 The Pathology of a Legal System: Criminal Justice in South Africa
Sydney Kentridge, S.C.
1978 Invisible Searches for Intangible Things: Regulation of Governmental Information Gathering
The Honorable Shirley M. Hufstedler
1977 The Jurisprudence of Foreign Electronic Surveillance
Professor Edward Levi
1976 Fundamental Rights in the United Kingdom: the Law and the British Constitution
Anthony Lester, Q.C.
1975 Some Kind of Hearing
The Honorable Henry J. Friendly
1974 Executive Privilege
Professor Archibald Cox
1973 Judicial Role and Judicial Image
The Honorable William H. Hastie
1972 Lawyers and Civilization
Mr. Anthony Lewis
1971 The Due Process Revolution and Confrontation
The Honorable Erwin N. Griswold
1970 Unmet Challenges of Inequality in the World Community
Professor Covey T. Oliver
1969 Can We Afford Liberty?
The Honorable Arthur J. Goldberg
1967 Fundamental Rights and the Prospect for Democracy in Nigeria
Chief F.R.A. Williams
1966 Multilateral Diplomacy in the Nuclear Age
The Honorable Abba Eban
1965 The Unguarded Affairs of the Semikempt Mistress
The Honorable Roger Traynor
1964 New Vistas in Constitutional Law
Professor Paul Freund
1963 The Rule of Law in the World Community
Dean Andrew Cordier
1962 Law, Democracy, and Morality
Lord Patrick A. Devlin
1961 Sentencing, Correction, and the Model Penal Code
Professor Herbert Wechsler
1959 Problems Facing the West
The Honorable Paul Henri Spaak
1958 The Rule of Law and Absolute Sovereignty
Professor Arthur L. Goodhart
1957 The Supreme Court in the Mirror of Justices
The Honorable Felix Frankfurter

OJ Roberts Owen Josephus Roberts was an extraordinary jurist whose devotion to law and to the Constitution marked every stage of his career. After earning his AB in 1895 and LLB in 1898 from the University of Pennsylvania, Roberts served for 20 years on the Law School faculty. He developed a highly successful private practice during this time, but chose to spend most of his career in service to the public sector: as assistant district attorney of Philadelphia County, special U.S. prosecutor in the Teapot Dome cases, chairman of the commission appointed by President Roosevelt to investigate the Pearl Harbor attack, chairman of the Clemency Board following World War II, and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1930 to 1945. From 1948 through 1951, Roberts served as dean of the Law School, where he taught a seminar in constitutional law.

The justices of the United States Supreme Court, circa 1937:
L to R standing: Owen J. Roberts, Pierce Butler, Harlan Fiske Stone, Benjamin Cardozo. L to R sitting: Louis D. Brandeis, Willis VanDevanter, Charles Evans Hughes, James McReynolds, George Sutherland.

Justice Aharon Barak delivers the 2007 Roberts Lecture on “The Battle Against Terror: The Judicial Role.”