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David Skeel, J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School


December 9, 2013 at 9:30 PM EST


Chesterton House – Residence

Co-sponsored by Chesterton House and Redeemer Presbyterian’s Center for Faith & Work



Every system of thought gives rise to ideas about justice and the kind of legal code that can foster a just social order.  As different as they are, these legal codes have one very odd thing in common: their advocates insist they will ensure a just social order, yet the legal codes always fail.  Whether it is the Mosaic law, the Napoleonic Code or the Soviet Union, legal codes are rolled out with great optimism about their capacity to ensure justice, but they never succeed.  This is the justice paradox.

Unlike any other religion or system of thought, Christianity rests on a story whose hero is murdered by legal process.  In the narrative of his arrest, trial and execution, Jesus encounters two of the finest legal systems the world has ever known, the Old Testament legal system and Roman law.  Both fail.  A clearer picture of the limits of law’s capacity would be hard to imagine.

Christians do not believe that we should take no interest in justice.  Quite to the contrary, the Christian teaching that each of us is made in the image of God inspired William Wilberforce’s campaign to end England’s slave trade and served as the foundation for the modern movement for international human rights.  But Christianity explains why the belief that we can be saved by the right legal system is both persistent and deeply mistaken…

Doors open 7:00PM for light hors d’oeuvres.
Program begins 7:30PM.

Featured Speaker:

David Skeel is the Caryl Louise Boies Visiting Professor of Law at New York University School of Law and the S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  He is author of The New Financial Deal: Understanding the Dodd-Frank Act and its (Unintended) Consequences (Wiley, 2011); Icarus in the Boardroom: The Fundamental Flaws in Corporate America and Where They Came From (Oxford, 2005); Debt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America (Princeton, 2001); and numerous articles on bankruptcy, corporate law, Christianity and law, law and literature, gambling, and other topics.  He has just completed the manuscript of his fourth book, tentatively entitled A True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Beautiful and Painful World.  His commentary has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard, Books & Culture, and elsewhere.  He is an elder at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.



Peter Milligan is a corporate attorney in the New York office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP specializing in mergers and acquisitions.  Peter received a J.D. from Cornell Law School, where he served as Managing Editor of the Cornell International Law Journal.  Peter also received an M.B.A. from the Johnson Graduate School of Management, a B.S. in Chemical Engineering with a minor in History from the University of Virginia, and was a Hansard Scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science.  He is a trustee of Central Presbyterian Church in New York.



Chesterton House Painting