112th: David Pozen with Carl Hart and Bernard Harcourt

Event date: 
04/30/2024 - 7:00pm

Join us Tuesday, April 30th at 7pm for a conversation with David Pozen to celebrate the release of The Constitution of the War on Drugs. Carl Hart will join in conversation, moderated by Bernard Harcourt

In order to facilitate this in-person author event, we will be partially closing the second floor starting at 6:45pm. Please review our Safety guidelines and register for the event using the link below. 


or register using the following link: https://forms.gle/iKDrp89GeQsNhDE79

An authoritative and first-of-its-kind critical constitutional history of the war on drugs that shows how drug prohibition was shaped by constitutional law, and how constitutional law was shaped by drug prohibition.

The U.S. government's decades-long "war on drugs" is increasingly recognized as a moral travesty as well as a policy failure. The criminalization of substances such as marijuana and magic mushrooms offends core tenets of liberalism, from the right to self-rule to protection of privacy to freedom of religion. It contributes to mass incarceration and racial subordination. And it costs billions of dollars per year--all without advancing public health. Yet, in hundreds upon hundreds of cases, courts have allowed the war to proceed virtually unchecked. How could a set of policies so draconian, destructive, and discriminatory escape constitutional curtailment?

In The Constitution of the War on Drugs, David Pozen provides an authoritative, critical constitutional history of the drug war, casting new light on both drug prohibition and U.S. constitutional development. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, advocates argued that criminal drug bans violate the Constitution's guarantees of due process, equal protection, federalism, free speech, free exercise of religion, and humane punishment. Many scholars and jurists agreed. Pozen demonstrates the plausibility of a constitutional path not taken, one that would have led to a more compassionate approach to drug control.

Rather than restrain the drug war, the Constitution helped to legitimate and entrench it. Pozen shows how a profoundly illiberal and paternalistic policy regime was assimilated into, and came to shape, an ostensibly liberal and pluralistic constitutional order. Placing the U.S. jurisprudence in comparative context, The Constitution of the War on Drugs offers a comprehensive review of drug-rights decisions along with a roadmap to constitutional reform options available today.

David Pozen is the Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. He teaches and writes about constitutional law, information law, and nonprofit law, among other topics. Pozen previously served as special assistant to Senator Ted Kennedy on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, special advisor to Legal Adviser Harold Hongju Koh at the U.S. Department of State, and law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Merrick Garland on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In 2019, the American Law Institute named Pozen the recipient of its Early Career Scholars Medal.

Carl Hart is the Ziff Professor of Psychology in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University. He is also a Research Scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Professor Hart has published numerous scientific and popular articles in the area of neuropsychopharmacology and is co-author of the textbook Drugs, Society and Human Behavior (with Charles Ksir). His book High Price was the 2014 winner of the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. He is also the author of Drug Use for Grown-Ups

Bernard E. Harcourt is the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and professor of political science at Columbia University and a chaired professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. An editor of Michel Foucault’s work in French and English, Harcourt is the author of several books, including Critique and Praxis (Columbia, 2020). He is a social-justice litigator and the recipient of the 2019 Norman Redlich Capital Defense Distinguished Service Award from the New York City Bar Association for his longtime representation of death row prisoners.


Event address: 
Book Culture
536 W 112th St
New York, NY 10025
The Constitution of the War on Drugs (Inalienable Rights) By David Pozen Cover Image
Not Available
ISBN: 9780197685457
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - April 23rd, 2024

Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear By Dr. Carl L. Hart Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101981665
Availability: On hand at one or more locations, see product page for details
Published: Penguin Books - January 11th, 2022

Cooperation: A Political, Economic, and Social Theory By Bernard E. Harcourt Cover Image
ISBN: 9780231209540
Availability: On hand at one or more locations, see product page for details
Published: Columbia University Press - May 9th, 2023