On Saturday, March 2, the Federalist Society presented its annual Paul M. Bator Award to Nita Farahany, Professor at Duke University School of Law. The award ceremony took place at the group's 2013 Student Symposium, and the award was presented by Brad Hubbard, a University of Chicago Law School student who served on the selection committee.
The Bator Award was established in 1989 in memory of Professor Paul M. Bator, a renowned scholar and teacher of federal courts and constitutional law at Harvard and the University of Chicago who played an important role in the early days of the Federalist Society. Duke Law School Dean David F. Levi, who knew Bator, called him “one of the greatest federal courts scholars of the last century and a superb advocate.” The award recognizes a young academic – under the age of forty – who has demonstrated excellence in legal scholarship, a commitment to teaching, a concern for students, and who has made a significant public impact. “[Bator] was unrelenting in his insistence on excellence,” Levi said. “It is a great honor to receive an award in his name.”
Professor Farahany is a leading scholar on the ethical, legal, and social implications of biosciences and emerging technologies, particularly those related to neuroscience and behavioral genetics. In addition to her law school position, she holds appointments in Duke University’s Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy and the Department of Philosophy. She also serves as the Chair of the Criminal Justice Section of the American Association of Law Schools, a Board Member of the International Neuroethics Society, a founder and co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Law and Biosciences, and a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.
In accepting the award, Professor Farahany highlighted the importance of public debate in preserving liberty. She observed that we live in a time of extraordinary technological progress, but also one in which “emerging technologies are challenging many of the liberties that we’ve held dear – such us freedom of thought and association, and protection of individual autonomy and liberty.” She commended the Federalist Society for its commitment to promoting discussion of all sides of these and other questions, commenting “the best way for a democratic society to progress is by airing all sides of deeply divided issues, not by silencing or marginalizing ideals at odds with our own.” She noted that friends in the Federalist Society had challenged her, in her work, “to look carefully at our Constitution, to be clear about the role of legislatures, courts, and the executive in my arguments and articles, and to be brave enough to take positions, even if those positions are at odds with others in academia.”
Farahany accepted the Bator award enthusiastically, yet with humility. Noting the impressive list of previous recipients, she remarked that she was felt “extraordinarily privileged and entirely undeserving to join their ranks as the 2013 Bator recipient.”
Professor Farahany is a graduate of Dartmouth College, where she received an AB in Genetics, Cell, and Developmental Biology, and of Duke University, from which she holds a JD (with high honors) as well as a Master’s and PhD in philosophy. She also has an ALM in Biology from Harvard University. Before joining Duke’s faculty, she clerked for Judge Judith Rogers (U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit) and taught law and philosophy at Vanderbilt. In 2011, she was the Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor of Human Rights at Stanford Law School.
Click HERE for Professor Farahany's faculty profile.
Click HERE for more information about the Bator Award.
Click HERE for a list of past Bator Award recipients.