Ronald Dworkin


Ronald Dworkin (1931–2013) was Professor of Philosophy and Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law at NYU. His books include Is Democracy Possible Here?, Justice in Robes, Freedom’s Law, and Justice for Hedgehogs. He was the 2007 winner of the Ludvig Holberg International Memorial Prize for “his pioneering scholarly work” of “worldwide impact” and he was recently awarded the Balzan Prize for his “fundamental contributions to Jurisprudence.”


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  • Why Did Roberts Change His Mind?

    July 9, 2012

    There is persuasive internal evidence in the various opinions the justices filed that he intended to vote with the other conservatives to strike the Act down and changed his mind only at the very last minute. Commentators on all sides have speculated furiously about why he did so.

  • Why the Health Care Challenge Is Wrong

    April 2, 2012

    The Supreme Court’s hearings in the health care case, Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida, over a nearly unprecedented three days of oral argument, generated all the attention, passion, theater, and constant media and editorial coverage of a national election or a Super Bowl. The legal issues, most analysts think, are not really controversial: the Constitution’s text, the Supreme Court’s own precedents, and basic constitutional principle seem obviously to require upholding the Affordable Health Care Act. But the questions of the ultra-conservative justices in the oral argument have now convinced most commentators that on the contrary, in spite of text, precedent, and principle, the Court will declare the Act unconstitutional in June, by a 5-4 vote.

  • Can Obama Extend the Debt Ceiling on His Own?

    July 29, 2011

    As the debt ceiling fiasco continues unresolved and increasingly dangerous, with no agreement among the House, the Senate and the White House yet in sight, an obscure and forgotten constitutional clause has suddenly come under scrutiny. The Fourteenth Amendment, adopted after the Civil War, provides that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.” Does that clause mean that it is unconstitutional for Congress to refuse to raise the debt ceiling – the amount the nation is legally permitted to borrow – in our present circumstances, and that the President is therefore constitutionally permitted to borrow money on his own authority?

  • How FDR Did It

    July 7, 2011

    We now have a President we can admire and respect. But he seems unaware that his opponents are not patriots anxious to help govern through a decent consensus but fanatics who would destroy the country if that would lead to his defeat. We think he should understand that this is a time for confrontation not compromise. He should therefore remember the words of another president running for reelection in the middle of an even graver economic catastrophe, words that seem eerily relevant now.

  • More Bad Arguments: The Roberts Court & Money in Politics

    April 27, 2011

    The second of two posts examining the Supreme Court's "step by step" overruling of longstanding precedents and constitutional tradition.

  • Bad Arguments: The Roberts Court & Religious Schools

    April 26, 2011

    Five conservative justices now dominate our Supreme Court. They continue to revise our historical constitution and new cases show that the arguments they offer continue to be embarrassingly bad.

  • Americans Against Themselves

    November 5, 2010

    The results of Tuesday's election are savagely depressing, wholly expected, yet deeply puzzling. Why do so many Americans insist on voting against their own best interests?

  • Keep Corporations Out of Televised Politics

    October 5, 2009

    We know that the Supreme Court’s decision in the pending Hillary: The Movie case, argued in a special early hearing before the Supreme Court on September 9, will be bad for democracy. We don’t yet know how bad it will be.