On October 16, 2014, CLI sponsored the Tenth Annual Friedrich A. von Hayek Lecture, featuring Thomas W. Merrill, Charles Evans Hughes Professor of Law at Columbia Law School on “Possession as a Natural Right.” Trevor Morrison, Dean and Eric M. and Laurie B. Roth Professor of Law, NYU Law, Richard Epstein, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, NYU Law, and Mario Rizzo, Professor of Economics, NYU, delivered introductory remarks. Professor Merrill’s remarks have been published in the New York University Journal of Law and Liberty.
Friedrich A. von Hayek (1899-1992) was an Austrian economist who won the Nobel Prize in October, 1974. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the award. Hayek made major contributions in the fields of economics and political philosophy, enhancing our understanding of monetary theory, the nature of social orders, and human freedom itself. A champion of equality before the law, respect for the limits of human planning, and the ideal of individual freedom, Hayek’s works include The Road to Serfdom, the three-volume set Law, Legislation and Liberty, and The Constitution of Liberty. In taking his name, the lecture series both pays homage to an important intellectual figure and signals its desire to emulate Hayek’s dedication to critical examination of the nature of law, the proper role of government in society, and the best avenues by which to explore and expand individual liberty. While Hayek preferred to term himself a “classical liberal,” the lecture is not designed to be political in nature. It is designed to bring ideas to the forefront, whether they are radical new ideas whose time for exploration has come or more established ideas whose time for repetition is long overdue. The Hayek lecture series has addressed many different topics since its inception, but it remains true to its mission: to challenge audiences to help shape a better world.
Professor Merrill writes widely in the fields of property and administrative law. In property, he has authored, with Henry Smith of Harvard, a series of articles relating the structure of property rights to information costs, as well as a leading casebook (“Property: Principles and Policies,” 2012); a series of studies, with Joseph Kearney of Marquette, on the role of public property rights in the development of the Chicago lakefront; and a variety of writings on constitutional property. In administrative law, he has written a number of pieces about the history of administrative law, and about judicial review of agency interpretations of law. Professor Merrill is a graduate of Grinnell College (1971) and Oxford University (1973), where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and the University of Chicago Law School (1977). He clerked for the Hon. David L. Bazelon, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and for the Hon. Harry A. Blackmun, U.S. Supreme Court. From 1987-1990 he was Deputy Solicitor General, U.S. Department of Justice. Professor Merrill has previously taught at Northwestern Law School (1981-2003) and at Yale Law School (2008-2010). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.