NYU Law Prof. Richard Epstein on the Founders’ Constitution & Federalism

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Richard Epstein, the inaugural Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at NYU School of Law, and author of The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government. He describes the influence of 17th and 18th-century English ideas on our Founding Fathers’ views of ordered liberty and self-government. He traces federalism’s legal roots and explains why the concept of “competitive federalism” among the states and with the national government remains hotly contested. They discuss federalism as it relates to education, with early state constitutions delegating wide authority to local governments and citizens. Professor Epstein distinguishes federalism from infamous states’ rights arguments from antebellum America, or unjust state and local laws like Jim Crowism and segregation, and offers insights on how to strike a balance between the federal, state, and local governments in terms of ensuring basic rights. He explores how policymakers at all levels should think about using classical liberal constitutionalism to achieve wider access to educational excellence. The interview concludes with Professor Epstein’s reading from his book.

Stories of the Week: In the UK, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Entrepreneurship has issued a report calling on the government to prioritize instruction in entrepreneurial skills. In Utah, women constitute 72 percent of K-12 educators, but only 13 percent of school superintendents, according to 2019 study by the national School Superintendents Association.


Richard Epstein is the inaugural Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University School of Law; the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution; the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law Emeritus, and Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago. He is the author of many books, including Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain (1985); Simple Rules for a Complex World (1995); Design for Liberty: Private Property, Public Administration, and the Rule of Law (2011); The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government (2014); and The Dubious Morality of Modern Administrative Law (2020). Professor Epstein is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1985, a winner of the Bradley Prize (2011); the recipient of honorary degrees from the University of Ghent and the University of Siegen. He graduated with a B.A. summa cum laude from Columbia University; received a B.A. with first-class honours in jurisprudence from Oriel College, Oxford University; and earned his law degree cum laude from Yale Law School.

The next episode will air on Weds., August 3rd, with Milly Arbaje-Thomas, CEO of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, Inc. (METCO) and Roger Hatch, co-author of Pioneer’s report, METCO Funding: Understanding Massachusetts’ Voluntary School Desegregation Program.

Tweet of the Week

News Links

UK’s Top Entrepreneurs Call On Government To Prioritize Entrepreneurship Education


72% of the U.S. public educator workforce is female, but just 13% of superintendents are women. Why?



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