In chair lecture, Feldman examines Madison, Frankfurter and the meaning of the Constitution (video)



Credit: Heratch Photography

Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman delivered a talk, “James Madison and Felix Frankfurter: Friends, Enemies, and the Meaning of the Constitution,” on the occasion of his appointment as the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law.

In his Nov. 12 lecture, Feldman elaborated on research into the work of Frankfurter for his 2010 book Scorpions. And he previewed research he is doing for a book he hopes to complete on James Madison. Drawing lessons from the work and conflicts of both men, Feldman also offered suggestions about the structure of meaning making, constitutional dispute and political enmity.


Credit: Heratch PhotographyFeldman with HLS Dean Martha Minow

Introducing Feldman before the lecture, Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow noted that Feldman, like Frankfurter, is a public intellectual whose scholarly writing influences academics and politicians, as well as popular audiences. In addition to having authored seven books on law and policy, Feldman also writes a syndicated column for Bloomberg News.

Minow also read a lengthy tribute to Feldman from his friend and colleague William Rubenstein ’86, the Sidley Austin Professor of Law, who said: “When Noah Feldman opens his mouth words flutter out like butterflies loosed from a net. The effect is luminous, but the substance concrete. Few people know as much about as many things, fewer still are able to articulate their knowledge with the style, insight, and passion that Noah – with little apparent effort – commands.”

Feldman joined the Harvard Law faculty in 2006. He is a graduate of Yale Law School, where he was Book Review Editor of the Yale Law Journal, and Harvard University. A Rhodes scholar, he earned a D.Phil. in Oriental Studies from Oxford University. Feldman clerked for Chief Judge Harry T. Edwards of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for Justice David H. Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Established in 1976, the Frankfurter chair was previously held by Professors Abraham Chayes, Alan Dershowitz, and Cass Sunstein.