Program

October 7, 2000
Honigman Auditorium, 100 Hutchins Hall
University of Michigan Law School

 

8:30 - 9:00 a.m.

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Jacqueline E. Lawson
Peggie J. Hollingsworth
Lee C. Bollinger

 

9:00 - 10:00 a.m.

 

Keynote Address
Freedom: The Seamless Web

 

Anthony Lewis

 

10:00 - 10:15 a.m.

 

Break

 

 

10:15 - 11:45 a.m.

 

Panel 1 - Silencing Voices

 

Ellen W. Schrecker
Nadine Strossen
Roger W. Wilkins

 

12:00 noon

 

Break for lunch

 

 

1:30 - 3:00 p.m.

 

Panel 2 - Scientific Evidence:
               Junk or Cutting Edge Science

 

Barry J. Nace
Rosalind Reid
Joseph Sanders

3:00 - 3:15 p.m.

Break

 

 

3:15 - 4:45 p.m..

 

Panel 3 - Constructive Dialogues
                    on Thorny Issues

 

Edward M. Gramlich
Robert M. O'Neil
Eugene L. Roberts, Jr.

 

4:45 - 5:00 p.m.

 

Discussion and Closing Comments

 

Brief Description of Panels:

Panel 1 - "Silencing Voices"

In recent years there has been much talk about "PC" or "political correctness" on university campuses, in the media, and among the public generally.  Many persons have charged that certain difficult and sensitive questions concerning race, gender, and the like have effectively been placed off limits from open discussion, or at least that certain controversial positions can no longer be voiced in academic settings or other respectable circles. At the same time, others are deeply concerned that particular groups, especially women and racial or ethnic minorities, have been severely disadvantaged at school and in the workplace by the hostility expressed, subtly or not so subtly, by teachers, employers, fellow students, and co-workers. Speech codes and anti-harassment rules have been fashioned in an effort to combat these affronts or supposed affronts.  How can the various institutions of society strike a fair balance in dealing with these problems? How can we have “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open” debate of important questions without unnecessarily wounding or impeding the academic or workplace progress of vulnerable members of the community?  How can we make all feel welcome and participative without stilling strongly dissenting voices?  Or can voices properly be quieted without being stilled?

Panel Two: "Scientific Evidence: Junk or Cutting Edge Science?"

Scientists have become increasingly concerned about the possible abuses of so-called "junk science" – the treatment in the popular press and in litigation of dubious scientific findings.  In its recent decision in Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 119 S.Ct. 1167 (1999), the U.S. Supreme Court imposed a "gate keeping" obligation on trial judges to ensure that all expert testimony is relevant and reliable, meeting "the same level of intellectual rigor that characterizes the practice of an expert in the relevant field."  What exactly does that ruling mean? Does it impose a necessary and feasible standard for barring the introduction of misleading "junk science"?  Or does such a test inappropriately hamstring claimants and lawyers trying to establish liability for wrongdoing in unprecedented situations?  What if any are the ramifications of this approach beyond the courtroom?  How, for instance, might it affect peer review of articles submitted for publication in scientific journals?

Panel Three: "Constructive Dialogues on Thorny Issues"

At present there is a worrisome lack of reasoned public dialogue about critical issues of race, gender, crime, poverty, bioethics, the environment, and the like. Strident voices too often just speak past one another in dealing with all these topics. How does one balance the right of free speech on such sensitive subjects against the need for more responsible speech? An in-depth look at how these questions should be approached (that is, the format for addressing them – not, of course, how they should be resolved) would be of inestimable value to our society. In short, we seek an intensive discussion of a matrix that any group or institution could use in coming to grips with the most controversial and persistent issues of our times.

Brief Description of Speakers:

Edward Gramlich is a Governor of the Federal Reserve System and a former Professor of Economics and Public Policy and Dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

Anthony Lewis is a columnist for The New York Times, a recipient twice of the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, and the James Madison Visiting Professor of First Amendment Issues at Columbia University. 

Barry Nace is Senior Partner in Paulson & Nace, Washington, D.C., former President of Trial Lawyers of America, and an author of numerous publications.  His major areas of practice are medical malpractice, drug product liability, and trial and appellate practice.

Robert O'Neil is the Founding Director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression and a former President of the University of Virginia and of the University of Wisconsin.  Among his books is Free Speech: Responsible Communication Under Law.

Rosalind Reid is Editor of American Scientist, the journal of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, and a member of the Advisory Board of Dragonfly, the National Science Foundation journal for young investigators.

Eugene Roberts is a Professor of Journalism at the University of Maryland at College Park, a former Managing Editor of The New York Times, and a former Executive Editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Joseph Sanders is the A. A. White Professor of Law at the University of Houston Law Center where he teaches Law and Social Science, Products Liability: Scientific Evidence, and Torts.  He is the author of numerous books and articles on these subjects.

Ellen Schrecker is Professor of American History at Yeshiva University, editor of Academe, the journal of the American Association of University Professors, and author of No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism and the Universities and other books about the McCarthy era.

Nadine Strossen is Professor of Law at New York Law School, President of the American Civil Liberties Union, and author of Defending Pornography.

Roger Wilkins is the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History and American Culture at George Mason University, a former U.S. Assistant Attorney General, a journalist, and recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.


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