Boston University School of Law

Kenneth W. Simons


University of Michigan Law School
J.D., 1978
Honors: Order of the Coif, magna cum laude, Helen L. DeRoy Memorial Award (best student contribution to the Michigan Law Review)
Activities: Michigan Law Review: Associate Editor, Note Editor

Yale University
B.A. in Philosophy, 1975
Honors: summa cum laude. Phi Beta Kappa. Honors in Philosophy.

Belmont Hill School, Belmont, MA
Honors: National Merit Scholar. summa cum laude.


Boston University School of Law
Professor of Law
The Honorable Frank R. Kenison Distinguished Scholar in Law

  • Received tenure in 1988
  • Associate Professor, 1982-1988
  • George Michaels Faculty Research Scholar, 1996-1998
  • M.L. Sykes Scholar, 2000-2004
  • Co-chair, Faculty Self-Study for ABA Accreditation, 2002-2003
  • Member, University Promotion and Tenure Committee, 2001-2002
  • Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, 1997-1999

Boston University School of Law
Associate Dean for Research (2006-2008)

  • Responsibilities included: organizing the mentoring of untenured faculty; encouraging and facilitating faculty research, workshops, discussion groups, and attendance at conferences; advice to the dean and other administrators; serving on David Saul Smith Award Committee that selects faculty member for research award; helping to organize conferences at the law school; and improving publicity about faculty research.

The University of Michigan Law School of Law
Visiting Professor of Law (Fall 1999)

  • Taught Torts and a seminar, Rights and Justice.

Boston University School of Law
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (1990-1993)

  • Responsibilities included organizing the J.D. curriculum, supervising academic programs, processing faculty appointments, administering student academic regulations, reviewing faculty benefit requests, and advising faculty and students concerning academic policies.

Justice Thurgood Marshall, United States Supreme Court, Washington, DC
Law clerk, (1981-1982)

Goodwin, Procter & Hoar, Boston, MA
Associate (1979-1981)

  • Practiced in the field of civil litigation, including commercial, tort, contracts, and prisoners' rights. Admitted to Massachusetts Bar, 1979.

Judge James L. Oakes, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Brattleboro, VT and New York, NY
Law clerk (1978-1979)

Dobrovir, Oakes, Gebhardt & Scull, Washington, DC
Summer associate (Summer, 1977)

  • Firm specialized in public interest law.

U.S. Congressman Paul Tsongas, Washington, DC
Legislative intern (Summer, 1976)


  • Torts
  • Criminal Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Advanced Constitutional Law (Liberty and Property; Equal Protection)

Also, the following seminars:

  • Crime and Punishment (Philosophical Perspectives)
  • Tort Law (Philosophical and Policy Perspectives)
  • The Idea of Equality
  • Justice and Rights
  • Liberal Theory and Law (John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin)
  • Mental States
  • Supreme Court Decision-making

Lectures And Presentations

Presented paper, “Victim Fault and Victim Strict Responsibility in Anglo-American Tort Law" at international conference on Shared Responsibility, sponsored by Faculty of Law, University of Oxford (John Gardner and James Goudkamp, organizers), at Oxford, England, September 7-8, 2012.

Invited participant and moderator, "Restitution and Unjust Enrichment Conference," BU School of Law, Boston, MA, September 16-17, 2011.

Presented paper, "Strict Liability in Grading: Forfeiture, Change of Normative Position, or Moral Luck?," at international Criminalization Conference, University of Stirling, Scotland, September 7, 2011.

Presented paper, "Statistical Knowledge Deconstructed," at University of Texas Law School faculty workshop, March 31, 2011.

Principal organizer, "Fiduciary Law in the 21st Century: A Conference Inspired by the Work of Professor Tamar Frankel," BU School of Law, Boston, MA, October 29, 2010.

Invited participant, "Rights, Equality, and Justice: A Conference Inspired by the Moral and Legal Theory of David Lyons," BU School of Law, Boston, MA, March 12-13, 2010.

Invited participant, Roundtable on Ignorance of Law, Rutgers, N.J., November 13-14, 2009, sponsored by the Rutgers Institute for Law and Philosophy.

Invited participant, Roundtable on the Philosophy of Tort Law, San Diego, CA, October 2-3, 2009, sponsored by the Institute for Law and Philosophy of the University of San Diego.

Presented paper, "Dworkin's Two Principles of Dignity: An Unsatisfactory Nonconsequentialist Account of Moral Duties," Conference on Ronald Dworkin's forthcoming book, Justice for Hedgehogs, BU School of Law, Boston, MA, September 25-26, 2009.

Invited to present paper, "The Distinction between Mens Rea and Actus Reus," Conference of contributors to Oxford University Press, The Philosophical Foundations of Criminal Law, Rutgers, Newark, N.J., September 25-26, 2009.

Invited participant, Conference on Alexander, Ferzan, & Morse, Crime and Culpability: A Theory of Criminal Law, Chicago, IL, May 10-12, 2009.

Presented paper, "The Restatement Thirdís Treatment of Traditional Strict Liability Doctrines" (tentative title), at Restatement Third of Torts Conference, Wake Forest Law School, April 1-2, 2009.

Invited participant, Liberty Fund Colloquium, "Tort Law, Liberty, and Responsibility," Alexandria VA, September 18-21, 2008.

Presented paper, "Ignorance and mistake of criminal law, noncriminal law, and fact: conceptual and normative issues," at Rutgers Institute for Law and Philosophy Symposium, "The Evolution of Criminal Law Theory," Rutgers Conference Center, New Brunswick, N.J., May 30-31, 2008.

Spoke on panel at "CrimTorts" Symposium, Widener University Law School, Harrisburg, PA, February 25, 2008, discussing: "The traditional understanding of the distinction between criminal law and torts."

Presented paper, "Tort negligence, cost-benefit analysis, and tradeoffs: a closer look at the controversy," at Civil Justice Program and Loyola Law Review Symposium, "Frontiers of Tort Law," Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, January 25-26, 2008.

Organized panel, Association of American Law Schools, Section on Scholarship, "The Future of Legal Scholarship," New York, NY, January 5, 2008. Moderator of panel.

Panelist, Association of American Law Schools, Section on Criminal Justice, on the topic "Voluntary Manslaughter: New Thoughts on an Old Crime," New York, NY, January 6, 2008.

Invited participant, Roundtable on the Reasonable, Manchester VT, November 2-3, 2007, co-sponsored by the Program in Law and Philosophy of the University of Illinois, the Institute for Law and Philosophy of the University of San Diego, the Institute for Law and Philosophy of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Rutgers-Camden Institute for Law and Philosophy.

Presented paper, "Self-Defense: Reasonable Beliefs or Reasonable Self-Control?" at Law and Society Conference, July 2007, Berlin, Germany. Organized panel, "The Reasonable Person in Criminal Law," at which this paper was given.

Invited participant, Third Annual Criminal Justice Roundtable, Yale Law School, April 2007. Commentator on Guyora Binder, "Felony Murder and the Theory of Culpability."

Presented paper, "Is Knowledge a Culpable State of Mind?," at Brooklyn Law School, March 2006.

Invited participant, Dan B. Dobbs Conference on Economic Torts, University of Arizona James E. Rogers School of Law, March 2006. Presented paper, "A Restatement (Third) of Intentional Torts?"

Invited participant and moderator, Symposium: Philosophical Analysis and the Criminal Law, British Academy, London, England, October 2005.

Panelist, Association of American Law Schools, Section on Torts and Compensation Systems, on the topic "The Future of Comparative Responsibility," San Francisco, CA, January 2005. Presented remarks: "Assumption of Risk, Victim Strict Responsibility, and Comparative Responsibility." Also, organized and moderated the Panel.

Moderator, Lochner Centennial Conference, Boston University School of Law, October 15-16, 2004 (Panel II: Lochner’s Lessons for Modern Federalism).

Invited participant, Conference, "Justification and Excuse: Philosophical and Legal Perspectives," sponsored by Rutgers-Camden Institute for Law and Philosophy, Rutgers-Camden Law School, May 25-26, 2004. Commentator on Larry Alexander, "Lesser Evils: A Closer Look at the Paradigmatic Justification."

Moderator, Symposium: The Jurisprudence of Slavery Reparations, Boston University School of Law, April 9-10, 2004 (Panels I and II).

Invited participant, Conference on the Theory of the Criminal Law’s "Special Part," Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, March 5-6, 2004. Commentator on Jeremy Horder, "Classifying Crimes: A Theory of the ‘Special Part’ of the Criminal Law."

Presented paper, "The Diminishing Significance of Mens Rea?," at Law and Society Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, June 2003.

Presented paper, "Does Punishment for ‘Culpable Indifference’ Simply Punish for ‘Bad Character’?," at Rutgers-Camden Law School, March 2003.

Invited participant, Conference, "What Do Compensatory Damages Compensate?," University of San Diego Institute for Law and Philosophy, February/March 2003. Presented paper, "Compensation: Justice or Revenge?" (commenting on Emily Sherwin, "Compensation and Revenge").

Panelist, Association of American Law Schools Criminal Justice Section, on the topic "Does the Model Penal Code Need to be Revised?," Washington, D.C., January 2003. Presented remarks: "Should the Code’s Mens Rea Provisions Be Amended?"

Invited participant, Gary Schwartz Memorial Torts Conference, UCLA School of Law, April 2002. Presented paper, "Reflections on Assumption of Risk."

Invited participant, International Conference on Negligence in the Law, Cegla Institute for Comparative and Private International Law, Tel-Aviv University, June 2001. Presented paper, "Dimensions of Negligence in Criminal and Tort Law."

Commentator, John W. Wade Conference on the Third Restatement of Torts: General Principles, Vanderbilt University Law School, September 2000.

Presented paper, "The Relevance of Community Values to Just Deserts," at Michigan Law School, Fall 2000.

Participant, Conference on Responsibility, Social Philosophy and Policy Center, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, April 1998. Presented paper, "Negligence."

Presented paper, "When is Strict Criminal Liability Just?," at University of Virginia Law School, April 1996; and Tel Aviv University, Buchman Faculty of Law, March 1996.

Participant and Co-organizer, The Intersection of Crime and Tort: An Academic Conference, Boston University School of Law, April 1995. Presented paper, "Deontology, Negligence, Tort, and Crime."

Speaker, Symposium on Professor Ernest J. Weinrib’s The Idea of Private Law, Eastern Division Meeting, American Philosophical Association, Boston, MA, December 1994.

Participant, Conference on Harm and Culpability in the Criminal Law, University of San Diego School of Law, February 11-12, 1994. Presented paper, "Culpability and Retributive Theory: the Problem of Criminal Negligence."

Participant, Conference on Professor Jules Coleman’s Risks and Wrongs, University of San Diego School of Law, January 30 - February 1, 1992.

Commentator, John A. Sibley Lecture by Professor Gary Schwartz, "The Beginning and the Possible End of the Rise of Modern American Tort Law," University of Georgia School of Law, November 1991.

Presented paper, "Rethinking Mental States," at University of San Diego School of Law, University of Southern California School of Law, and UCLA Law & Philosophy Discussion Group, Spring 1990.

Panelist, American Association of Law Schools Constitutional Law Section, on subject of "Unconstitutional Conditions," New Orleans, Louisiana, January 1989.

Lecture, "Foreseeability and Causation: Questions of Law or Fact?," 1984 Appellate Judges Seminar Series, American Bar Association, Orlando, Florida, November 1984.

Professional Activities and Awards

  • Silver Shingle Award, Boston University School of Law, for Distinguished Service to the School, October 2011.
  • Dean's Teaching Award, May 2009.
  • Member of Editorial Board, Criminal Law and Philosophy (Springer, pub.).
  • Member of Editorial Board, New Criminal Law Review: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal (University of California Press).
  • Elected to American Law Institute, 2002.
  • Members Consultative Group, Restatement of the Law Third, Torts: Liability for Physical Harm (Basic Principles), and Restatement of the Law Second, Model Penal Code: Sentencing, since 2003.
  • Occasional manuscript reviewer for Oxford University Press and for journals: Criminal Law and Philosophy; Law and Philosophy; Legal Theory; New Criminal Law Review.


"Consent and Assumption of Risk in Tort and Criminal Law," in Unravelling Tort and Crime Matthew Dyson, ed., Cambridge University Press (forthcoming). 

"Punishment and Blame for Culpable Indifference," in Symposium, Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy  (forthcoming). 

"Reluctant Pluralist: Moore on Negligence," in Festschrift for Michael Moore  K. Ferzan & S. Morse, eds., Oxford University Press (forthcoming). 

"Exploring the Relationship between Consent, Assumption of Risk, and Victim Negligence," in Philosophical Foundations of the Law of Torts 272, J. Oberdiek, ed., Oxford University Press (2014). 
Full text: SSRN  

"The Language of Mens Rea," with others, 67 Vanderbilt Law Review 1327 (2014). 
Full text: Hein (BU)  Hein  SSRN  

Restatement of the Law Third: Torts: Intentional Torts to Persons, with Ellen Pryor, Discussion Draft, American Law Institute (Apr 4, 2014). [addressing Battery, Assault, and Transferred Intent] 

"Is Complexity a Virtue? Reconsidering Theft Crimes," in Symposium, Thirteen Ways to Steal a Bicycle, 47 New England Law Review 927 (2012-13). 
Full text: Hein (BU)  Hein  

Restatement of the Law Third: Torts: Intentional Torts to Persons, with Ellen Pryor, Preliminary Draft no.1, American Law Institute (Aug 28, 2013). [addressing Battery, Assault, and Transferred Intent] 
Full text: Hein (BU)  Hein  

"Ignorance and Mistake of Criminal Law, Noncriminal Law, and Fact," in Symposium, Punishment and Culpability, 9 Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 487 (2012). 
Full text: SSRN  

"Is Strict Criminal Liability in the Grading of Offenses Consistent with Retributive Desert?" 32 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 445 (2012). 
Full text: SSRN  

"Statistical Knowledge Deconstructed," 92 Boston University Law Review 1 (2012). 
Full text: SSRN  

"Understanding the Topography of Moral and Criminal Law Norms," in Philosophical Foundations of Criminal Law 228, R. Duff & S. P. Green, eds., Oxford University Press (2011). 
Full text: SSRN  

"When is Negligent Inadvertence Culpable?" in Symposium Negligence in Criminal Law and Morality, 5 Criminal Law & Philosophy  (2011). 

"Dworkin's Two Principles of Dignity: An Unsatisfactory Nonconsequentialist Account of Moral Duties," in Symposium, Justice for Hedgehogs: A Conference on Ronald Dworkin's Forthcoming Book, 90 Boston University Law Review 715 (2010). 
Full text: SSRN  

"Retributivism Refined - Or Run Amok?" review of Larry Alexander, Kimberley Kessler Ferzan & Stephen Morse, Crime and Culpability: A Theory of Criminal Law, Cambridge University Press (2009), 77 University of Chicago Law Review 551 (2010). 
Full text: SSRN  

"The Distinction Between Negligence and Recklessness Is Unstable," in Criminal Law Conversations 290, K. Ferzan, S. Garvey & P. Robinson, eds., Oxford University Press (2009). 

"Excuse Doctrine Should Eschew Both the Reasonable and the Ordinary Person," in Criminal Law Conversations 333, K. Ferzan, S. Garvey & P. Robinson, eds., Oxford University Press (2009). 

"Mistake of Fact or Mistake of Criminal Law? Explaining and Defending the Distinction," 3 Criminal Law and Philosophy 213 (2009). 
Full text: SSRN  

"Requiring Reasonable Beliefs About Self-Defense Ensures That Acts Conforming to Those Beliefs Are Reasonable," in Criminal Law Conversations 441, K. Ferzan, S. Garvey & P. Robinson, eds., Oxford University Press (2009). 

"The Restatement Third of Torts and Traditional Strict Liability: Robust Rationales, Slender Doctrines," in Symposium, The Third Restatement of Torts, 44 Wake Forest Law Review 1355 (2009). 
Full text: Hein (BU)  Hein  Lexis  Westlaw  SSRN  

"Retributivists Need Not and Should Not Endorse the Subjectivist Account of Punishment," 109 Columbia Law Review Sidebar 1 (2009). 
Full text: PDF  Lexis  Westlaw  

"The Crime/Tort Distinction: Legal Doctrine and Normative Perspectives," in Symposium, Criminal Torts, 17 Widener Law Journal 719 (2008). 
Full text: PDF  Hein (BU)  Hein  Westlaw  

"Self-defense: Reasonable Beliefs or Reasonable Self-Control?" in Symposium, The Reasonable Person in Criminal Law, 11 New Criminal Law Review 51 (2008). 
Full text: PDF  Hein (BU)  Hein  Lexis  Westlaw  SSRN  

"Tort Negligence, Cost-Benefit Analysis, and Tradeoffs: A Closer Look at the Controversy," in Symposium, The Frontiers of Tort Law, 41 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 1171 (2007-08). 
Full text: Lexis  Westlaw  SSRN  

"The Conceptual Structure of Consent in Criminal Law," review of Peter Westen, The Logic of Consent: The Diversity and Deceptiveness of Consent as a Defense to Criminal Conduct, Ashgate (2004), 9 Buffalo Criminal Law Review 577 (2006). 
Full text: Lexis  Westlaw  SSRN  

"A Restatement (Third) of Intentional Torts?" in Symposium, 48 Arizona Law Review 1061 (2006). PDF  
Full text: PDF  Hein (BU)  Hein  Lexis  Westlaw  SSRN  

"Exploring the Intricacies of the Lesser Evils Defense," in Symposium, 24 Law & Philosophy 645 (2005). Commenting on Larry Alexander, "Lesser Evils: A Closer Look at the Paradigmatic Justification," 24 Law and Philosophy 611 (2005). 

"The Relevance of Victim Conduct in Tort and Criminal Law," in Symposium, 8 Buffalo Criminal Law Review 541 (2005). Commenting on Vera Bergelson, "Victims and Perpetrators: An Argument for Comparative Liability in Criminal Law," 8 Buffalo Criminal Law Review 385 (2005). 
Full text: Hein (BU)  Hein  Lexis  Westlaw  

"Compensation: Justice or Revenge?" 40 San Diego Law Review 1415 (2003). 
Full text: Hein (BU)  Hein  Lexis  Westlaw  

"Does Punishment for 'Culpable Indifference' Simply Punish for 'Bad Character'? Examining the Requisite Connection Between Mens Rea and Actus Reus," 6 Buffalo Criminal Law Review 219 (2003). 
Full text: Hein (BU)  Hein  Lexis  Westlaw  SSRN  

"Should the Model Penal Code's Mens Rea Provisions Be Amended?" 1 Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 179 (2003). 
Full text: PDF  Hein (BU)  Hein  Lexis  Westlaw  SSRN  

"The Story of Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusement Co.: While the Timorous Stay at Home, the Adventurous Ride the Flopper," in Torts Stories 179, R. Rabin & S. Sugarman, eds., Foundation Press (2003). 

"Dimensions of Negligence in Criminal and Tort Law," 3 Theoretical Inquiries in Law 283 (2002). 
Full text: PDF  Hein (BU)  Hein  Lexis  Westlaw  SSRN  

"Reflections on Assumption of Risk," 50 UCLA Law Review 481 (2002). 
Full text: Hein (BU)  Hein  Lexis  Westlaw  SSRN  

"The Hand Formula in the Draft Restatement (Third) of Torts: Encompassing Fairness as Well as Efficiency Values," 54 Vanderbilt Law Review 901 (2001). 
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"On Equality, Bias Crimes, and Just Deserts," 91 Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 507 (2001). Responding to Harel & Parchomovsky, "On Hate and Equality," 109 Yale Law Journal 507 (1999). 
Full text: Hein (BU)  Hein  Lexis  Westlaw  SSRN  

"The Logic of Egalitarian Norms," 80 Boston University Law Review 693 (2000). 
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"The Relevance of Community Values to Just Deserts: Criminal Law, Punishment Rationales, and Democracy," 28 Hofstra Law Review 635 (2000). 
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"Social Meaning, Retributivism, and Homicide," review of Samuel H. Pillsbury, Judging Evil: Rethinking the Law of Murder and Manslaughter, NYU Press (1998), 19 Law and Philosophy 407 (2000). 

"Negligence," in Symposium, Responsibility, 16 Social Philosophy and Policy 52 (1999). Reprinted in Responsibility 52, E. F. Paul, F. D. Miller & J. Paul, eds., Cambridge University Press (1999). 
Full text: SSRN  

"When is Strict Criminal Liability Just?" 87 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 1075 (1997). 
Full text: Hein (BU)  Hein  Lexis  Westlaw  

"Deontology, Negligence, Tort, and Crime," in Symposium, The Intersection of Tort and Crime, 76 Boston University Law Review 273 (1996). 
Full text: Hein (BU)  Hein  Lexis  Westlaw  

"Justification in Private Law," review of E. Weinrib, The Idea of Private Law, Harvard University Press (1995), 81 Cornell Law Review 698 (1996). 
Full text: Hein (BU)  Hein  Lexis  Westlaw  

"Contributory Negligence: Conceptual and Normative Issues," in Philosophical Foundations of Tort Law 461, D. Owen, ed., Oxford University Press (1995). 

"The Puzzling Doctrine of Contributory Negligence," 16 Cardozo Law Review 1693 (1995). Reprinted in 45 Defense Law Journal 1 (1996). 
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"Culpability and Retributive Theory: The Problem of Criminal Negligence," 5 Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 365 (1994). 
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"Justice Thurgood Marshall: A Reminiscence," 3 Boston University Public Interest Law Journal 1 (1993). 
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"Doctrinal Change in Tort Law: Some Methodological Musings," 26 Georgia Law Review 757 (1992). 
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"Jules Coleman and Corrective Justice in Tort Law: A Critique and Reformulation," 15 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 849 (1992). 
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"Rethinking Mental States," 72 Boston University Law Review 463 (1992). 
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"Corrective Justice and Liability for Risk Creation: A Comment," 38 UCLA Law Review 113 (1990). 
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"Mistake and Impossibility, Law and Fact, and Culpability: A Speculative Essay," 81 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 447 (1990). 
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"Offers, Threats, and Unconstitutional Conditions," 26 San Diego Law Review 289 (1989). 
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"Overinclusion and Underinclusion: A New Model," 36 UCLA Law Review 447 (1989). 
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"Self-Defense, Mens Rea, and Bernhard Goetz," review of George P. Fletcher, A Crime of Self-Defense: Bernhard Goetz and the Law on Trial, University Of Chicago Press (1988), 89 Columbia Law Review 1179 (1989). 
Full text: Lexis  Westlaw  

"Assumption of Risk and Consent in the Law of Torts: A Theory of Full Preference," 67 Boston University Law Review 213 (1987). Reprinted in 37 Defense Law Journal 121 (1987). 
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"Equality as a Comparative Right," 65 Boston University Law Review 387 (1985). 
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"Rescinding a Waiver of a Constitutional Right," 68 Georgetown Law Journal 919 (1980). 
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"Philosophical Perspectives on Affirmative Action," review of Equality and Preferential Treatment: A Philosophy and Public Affairs Reader, Marshall Cohen, Thomas Nagel & Thomas Scanlon, eds., Princeton University Press (1977), 77 Michigan Law Review 513 (1979). 

"Equal Protection: A Closer Look at Closer Scrutiny," 76 Michigan Law Review 771 (1978). [Note]