Stephen L. Carter
William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law
Yale University Law School
Stephen L. Carter was born in Washington, D.C., educated at public schools in Washington and in Ithaca, New York. He went to Yale University as an assistant professor in 1982 after clerking for Judge Spottswood W. Robinson III of the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Carter’s expertise is in Constitutional law, contracts, intellectual property law, and law and religion. His books include Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby (1991), The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion (1993), The Confirmation Mess: Cleaning up the Federal Appointments Process (1994), Integrity (1996), The Dissent of the Governed: A Meditation on Law, Religion, and Loyalty (1998), Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy (1998), God’s Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics (2000), and two novels, The Emperor of Ocean Park (2002) and New England White (2007). The New York Times describes Professor Carter as one of the nation’s leading public intellectuals. He was selected by Time magazine as one of the 50 great leaders of the 21st century. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a trustee of the Aspen Institute, and the first non-theologian to receive the prestigious University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion.
Professor Carter is an avid chess player and life member of the United States Chess Federation, whose recent novel The Emperor of Ocean Park engages “the world of the chess problemist where composers work for months or years to set up challenging positions for others to solve.” He is deeply committed to the Bible: “ . . .especially as I began to read theology and philosophy in a serious way. The Bible has changed my life.” He reads widely in history, ethics, and philosophy. He values Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica for the intellectual firepower behind arguments which both confuse and intimidate him. He recommends Michael Kammen’s A Machine That Would Go of Itself and Akhil Amar’s The Bill of Rights as “two of the finest contemporary books written on the American Constitution.” He explains the conflicts that pervade contemporary intellectual discourse about science and belief: “Democracy without religion is empty of meaning, and religion without democracy is empty of faith.”