Editors Note: A group of W&L Law students are currently in Germany for an intensive week-long exploration of German law and legal culture. The German Comparative Law Academy, organized by Prof. Russ Miller, brings together American and German law students for a scholarly exchange on both countries’ legal systems, with an emphasis on Constitutional Law.
by Bret Reed
This morning Prof. Miller pushed the class to 10 am, fortunately, although after a late night at a wine/jazz bar and a Chemerinsky law review article assignment, we reluctantly stirred and poured into the conference room. Again, the Brandt school provided a pleasant spread of morning fare which we enjoyed as we wrestled with American free speech jurisprudence. This discussion was probably the best of the week, with most of the non-American students contributing and much more forthcoming as friendships had formed with us at this point. We had an exquisite foil in Germany’s approach (which we studied yesterday) and we mostly discussed the legal arguments presented in The People vs. Larry Flint. Opinions about the proper balancing of speech protection and the rights of others varied widely, and I was most surprised to mark that the Americans seemed to be the most willing to accept restraints on speech, within limited contexts.
After a constructive three hours we broke for lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant and said our goodbyes to the Brandt students who weren’t coming with us to the German High Court. I was surprised how meaningful our relationships had become after only three days, but I suppose we all came prepared to get down to business and share our worldviews and experiences. We gathered up and checked-out out of the dorms, rode to Erfurt’s train station, and then continued on to Frankfurt and then Karlsruhe (the seat of Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court), compliments of the program. Prof. Miller promptly bailed with a buddy after about 20 seconds on the landing, but Prof. Hoffman was a trooper and led us to a nearby hostel and purchased us rooms, again on the program’s tab. I’m continually impressed with how the Brandt students/administrators attend to our needs, certainly more than they have to. Those who didn’t have to write blog entries jaunted off to an Irish pub and had a great time, but we were all back relatively early with a serious demeanors as we prepared to meet what is essentially a Supreme Court justice tomorrow. I know the Romance countries are the first to come to mind when discussing enriching Euro trips, but Erfurt is just enchanting if quaint Medieval is your thing, and two hour political and philosophical conversations with sharp individuals from the world’s four corners is beyond the pale insightful.