How Rights Went Wrong

Date of Event



Rights are a sacred part of American identity, yet they are the source of some of our greatest divisions.

We believe that holding a right means getting a judge to let us do whatever the right protects. And judges, for their part, seem unable to imagine two rights coexisting—reducing the law to winners and losers. The resulting system of legal absolutism distorts our law, debases our politics and exacerbates our differences rather than helping to bridge them.

This lecture offers a different approach that is consistent with our history and points the way to a more just, more civil society.

Jamal Greene is the Dwight Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where he teaches courses in constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, and the law of the political process. He is the author of How Rights Went Wrong: Why Our Obsession With Rights Is Tearing America Apart, as well as numerous articles and book chapters on constitutional law and theory. Greene is also a co-chair of the Oversight Board, an independent body that reviews content moderation decisions on Facebook and Instagram. He served as a law clerk to the Hon. Guido Calabresi on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for the Hon. John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court. Greene earned his JD from Yale Law School and his AB from Harvard College

Lecture Series

Frank J. Battisti Memorial Lecture

Subject Headings

rights; civil rights: civil rights and the courts; rights and the jusiciary


CWRU School of Law, A59, Mootcourt Room

Document Type