Frederick Schauer Receives Honorary Doctorate From WU Vienna

Professor Presents Lecture, Discussion on ‘Second-Best Constitutionalism’
Frederick Schauer speaking at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration

Professor Frederick Schauer receives an honorary doctorate from WU Vienna on Oct. 17. Photo courtesy WU Vienna

October 28, 2019

Professor Frederick Schauer of the University of Virginia School of Law received an honorary doctorate from the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration on Oct. 17.

The honorary doctorate is the highest academic award bestowed by Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, or “WU,” as the Austrian university is also known, reflecting exceptional academic achievement.

“Frederick Schauer is one of the most important legal theorists of our time,” WU Rector Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger said at the ceremony marking the honor. “He was and still is a particularly committed mediator between legal worlds of continental European and U.S. legal tradition.”

Schauer is a David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law at UVA, and he is among the most prominent and recognizable names in the legal academy. His expertise in the philosophy of law, legal reasoning, constitutional law, jurisprudence and evidence has been demonstrated in hundreds of books, book chapters, articles, essays, classes and personal appearances.

In the 1980s and ’90s, Schauer published groundbreaking work on U.S. constitutional law and legal reasoning. His most famous book, “Free Speech: A Philosophical Enquiry” (1982), was written in Vienna.

Among his accolades, Schauer is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has been chair of the Section on Constitutional Law of the Association of American Law Schools and of the Committee on Philosophy and Law of the American Philosophical Association.

From 1990 to 2008 he was Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at Harvard University, from which he earned his J.D. in 1972, and was previously professor of law at the University of Michigan.

Schauer has served as a visiting professor or guest speaker at numerous universities and distinguished venues around the world, including Columbia Law School, the University of Chicago, Dartmouth College, the University of Toronto, Australian National University, New York University and the University of Oxford.

Schauer presented the lecture “Second-Best Constitutionalism” at the WU ceremony. The lecture focused on “second order” constitutional rules “that sometimes conflict with even genuinely good policy ideas, but do so in the service of the deeper and longer term values embedded in constitutions,” he noted after the speech. He prefaced his comments with remarks in German, some referencing his own Viennese family roots.

Schauer also participated in a related panel discussion that included Alexander Somek from the University of Vienna, Anna Bettina Kaiser from the Humboldt University in Berlin, and Christoph Grabenwarter, vice president (and acting president) of the Austrian Constitutional Court. Schauer’s academic contributions were described in detail in a “laudatum” at the ceremony delivered by Professor Christoph Bezemek, dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Graz.

Among those in attendance was Clemens Jabloner, a former judge and legal theorist who is currently the vice chancellor of Austria. 

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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