The Law School 2006
The 2006 issue of the magazine of the New York University School of Law.
AUTUMN 2006 THE LAW SCHOOL 57 dated Sitkoff’s research agenda by encour- aging his interest in T&E, “so all the pieces came together. ” In September 2000, just three days after his 26th birthday, Sitkoff became an assistant professor of law at Northwestern University, the youngest on the faculty. “The only deci- sion that was easier” than going into legal academia, he says, “was marrying Tamara.” He was at a friend’s barbecue one sum- mer during law school when he met Tamara, 33, who worked in the Chicago public school system. In May 2001, they went on their first date. Three weeks later it was obvious to both that they would marry. They tied the knot in March 2003 (their rabbi and Judge Posner both officiated), and last winter their first child, Deborah Eve, was born. Says Sitkoff of the dramatic changes in his life: “These are wonderful, exciting, happy times.” Jeremy Waldron University Professor F or a scholar who’s been described as a dynamo, a live wire, an enormously ener- getic intellect, Professor Jeremy Waldron had a quite uneventful upbringing. He was raised in New Zealand’s Invercargill, a small city in a farming district—“the southern- most city in the British Empire!”—where his father, an Anglican clergyman, served in the same parish for Waldron’s entire childhood. Indeed, Waldron didn’t leave New Zealand until he was 25. But since then, Waldron, 52, often con- sidered one of the world’s leading contem- porary political philosophers, has rocketed through the academic world—to Oxford, to Edinburgh, to Berkeley, to Princeton, to Columbia, and now this fall, to NYU. “In the area of legal philosophy,” he says, “NYU has a hugely successful, vigorous intellectual community. In legal theory, it has people like Ronald Dworkin, Tom Nagel, Liam Murphy, Lewis Kornhauser, David Richards, Sam Issacharoff, David Garland, Philip Alston and my countryman Ben Kingsbury. It’s a very rich community.” Waldron has visited the Law School before, presenting papers at the Colloquium in Legal, Political and Social Philosophy, run by Dworkin and Nagel. Indeed, his rela- tionship with Dworkin dates back to Oxford, where Dworkin had been his academic adviser. But though they’ve remained close through the years, Waldron hasn’t always followed in his mentor’s footsteps. He wasn’t tempted by the world’s leading legal philosophy chairs that had been Dworkin’s— the Chair of Jurisprudence at Oxford and the Quain Professor of Jurisprudence at University College London. “He turned down two of my chairs, so I’m lucky he’s coming to NYU,” jokes Dworkin. So, does Waldron’s much-heralded appointment mean he is finally set to inherit the unofficial mantle of the world’s top legal philosopher from Dworkin? Not according to Waldron. “I think that’s nonsense,” he says. “First of all, Dworkin shows no signs of giv- ing away the mantle. And things don’t work like that. Everyone works in his own areas. People may use that phrase but it would be wrong.” Professor Liam Murphy agrees: “He doesn’t need to inherit Dworkin’s mantle. He’s famous in his own right.” A lively, animated teacher, Waldron is a highly prolific writer of books and academic papers. “He’s not just writing more than some of us, he’s writing more than most of us!” Murphy says, laughing. Waldron, who made his mark at 35 in the area of property rights with the book The Right to Private Property, isn’t reticent about policy issues, either, taking strong, sometimes controver- sial stands on judicial review (should be weakened); torture as a way of eliciting infor- mation (should be banned absolutely); and multiculturalism (wrong and silly). His stud- ies take him to the very center and conver- gence of political philosophy, legal philoso- phy and political theory. “I’m as comfortable teaching historical political theory—Locke, Hobbes, Aristotle—as I am teaching mod- ern constitutional jurisprudence or as I am abstract political philosophy,” he says. Even as a teenager, Waldron had an inter- est in law and history. He earned degrees in philosophy and law from New Zealand’s University of Otago, and went to Oxford in 1978 to do graduate work. He first read about Dworkin in a 1977 Time magazine profile drawn to his attention by his mentor and “philosophical godmother,” Professor Gwen Taylor of the University of Otago in New Zealand. She had written to H.L.A. Hart for advice on whom Waldron should study with at Oxford. Hart wasn’t taking new students but suggested Dworkin, and the relation- ship began. “He was very glamorous, quite intimidating intellectually, but a good per- son to work with,” Waldron recalls. Dworkin would, typically, shred Waldron’s papers— courteously, of course—and Waldron says he now owes a great debt to Dworkin for his rigorous workings-over. Dworkin, in turn, remembers Waldron then as “engaging, informal, funny, very fast and quick.” From 1980 to 1982, Waldron was a fel- low at Lincoln College, Oxford. Anxious to get on a tenure track, he decided to quit Oxford and go to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He stayed there until 1987, when he left for the Boalt Hall School of Law. Nearly 10 years later, he and his companion, Carol Sanger, then a law professor at Santa Clara Law School, were recruited separately by Columbia Law School. “I didn’t like New York so much, so I succumbed to an offer from Princeton and Carol accepted Columbia.” But he wasn’t happy at Princeton, and after just one year he moved to Columbia. He stayed for “a glorious nine years”—just last year he was named University Professor. Waldron has several projects in the works, including collecting historical writ- ings on the rule of law. That will be the topic for a course he will teach in the spring. This fall, he’ll help conduct the demanding Colloquium in Legal, Political and Social Philosophy with Nagel and Dworkin. One thing Waldron will be doing less of this year is administrative work. He ran a cen- ter on law and philosophy at Columbia and chaired the University Senate Committee on Libraries and IT there. He says that he won’t miss the grinding committee work and that he’s happy that he will be able to partake of the classical music, opera and travel that he loves. But also, he says, his new schedule will give him more time to focus—“on the core activity of teaching and writing.” ■