Ipse Dixit


Jeremy Sheff on Jefferson's Taper and the Classical Tradition

Season 1, Ep. 185

In this episode, Jeremy Sheff, Professor of Law and Director of the Intellectual Property Law Center at St. John's University School of Law, discusses his article "Jefferson's Taper." Sheff begins by describing Thomas Jefferson's "Parable of the Taper," found in a letter to Isaac McPherson, in which Jefferson argues that there is no natural right of property in inventions, which are a fire than can be spread from one person to another, without dimming the source. This parable has figured prominently in contemporary debates between utilitarian and Lockean theories of the justification for patents, with utilitarians seeking endorsement in the parable, and Lockeans rejecting it. Sheff argues that Jefferson was actually paraphrasing Cicero's iconic work "De Officiis," and drawing on a very different Classical tradition of natural law. Not only does this perspective help us better understand what Jefferson actually meant, but also it may a provide helpful new perspective on the contemporary debate. Sheff is on Twitter at @jnsheff.

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Aliza Shatzman on Holding Judges Accountable

Season 1, Ep. 758
In this episode, Aliza Shatzman, an attorney and advocate based in Washington, DC, discusses her article "Untouchable Judges? What I've learned about harassment in the judiciary, and what we can do to stop it," which will be published in the UCLA Journal of Gender & Law. Here is the abstract:Drawing from the author’s own experience of gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation during her clerkship and in the years following it by a former DC Superior Court judge, this Article analyzes the deficits in current federal and DC judicial reporting systems to demonstrate the urgent need for reform. I argue that harassment in the judiciary is pervasive, due to both enormous power disparities between judges and law clerks, and various institutional barriers that perpetuate misconduct and discourage reporting. I survey existing methods of judicial discipline in both the federal and DC Courts and argue that these provide insufficient redress for workplace misconduct. I then discuss the Judiciary Accountability Act (JAA) (HR 4827/S 2553), which would finally protect judiciary employees, including law clerks and federal public defenders, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, enabling employees to sue their harassers and seek damages for harm done to their careers, reputations, and future earning potential. Furthermore, I argue that the DC Courts should be included in the JAA, because they are Article I courts created and regulated by Congress, and DC Courts judges are arguably federal judges for Title VII and disciplinary purposes. I also offer a variety of other proposed reforms, which would both strengthen the JAA and provide additional protections to uniquely vulnerable judiciary employees. I conclude by reflecting on my attempts to report the misconduct I experienced, how the systems failed me when I tried to report, and my efforts to seek justice for myself and accountability for the misbehaving former judge.This episode was hosted byBrian L. Frye, Spears-Gilbert Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law. Frye is on Twitter at@brianlfrye.