Kalven, Harry, Jr. (1914–1974)

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KALVEN, HARRY, JR. (1914–1974)

Commencing the lectures that became his book, The Negro and the First Amendment (1965), Harry Kalven remarked that constitutional law was his hobby. He considered himself a torts teacher who had become interested in some constitutional subjects, and certainly his writings on the constitutional law of defamation and invasions of privacy show deep understanding of the underlying private law. But Kalven was no constitutional amateur; his work on the jury system and on the first amendment placed him in the first rank of scholars in both fields.

A long collaboration with Hans Zeisel culminated in the publication of The American Jury (1966), a work still hailed for its pathbreaking combination of traditional legal analysis and imaginative empirical study. His essays on defamation and obscenity set patterns of thought that can be seen in scores of later scholarly works, and his article on "the public forum " probably influenced the course of Supreme Court decisions more than any other single work of its era. (See also: two-level theory.)

An effervescent man, Kalven was much beloved by a generation of his students at the University of Chicago Law School, some of whom are numbered today among our leading constitutional scholars. His legacy to them, and to all of us through his scholarship, was a passion for applying careful, particularized analysis—in short, the lawyer's craft—to the ends of justice.

Kenneth L. Karst


In Memoriam: Harry Kalven, Jr. 1975 The University of Chicago Law Review 43:1–149. (Includes a complete bibliography of Kalven's writings.)