F.H. Buckley

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F.H. Buckley (born Aug. 4, 1948) is a Foundation Professor at George Mason University School of Law, where he has taught since 1989. Before then he was a visiting Olin Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. He has also taught at Panthéon-Assas University, Sciences Po in Paris and the McGill Faculty of Law in Montreal. He practiced law for three years in Toronto.

He has written on a wide variety of issues, including constitutional government, the rule of law, laughter and contract theory. He is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator and other magazines and newspapers.

Constitutional Government[edit]

Buckley’s The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America [1] published by Encounter Books in April 2014. The book argues that the Framers, at their Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, sought to give America something closer to Congressional (or parliamentary) than presidential government, and that the former is a superior form of government.[2] America has now moved to a form of strong presidential government.

The Rule of Law[edit]

Buckley edited The American Illness: Essays on the Rule of Law (Yale U.P., 2013),[3] to which he contributed three chapters. He suggests that “America’s lowered rankings among multinational corporation CEOs as a place to do business is due to a hubris that doesn’t consider America’s inevitable relative decline in a globalized market.” [4]

Laughter[edit]

Buckley’s The Morality of Laughter (U. Michigan P., 2003),[5] argues for a superiority theory of laughter, in which there is always a butt to our laughter whose faults it seeks to correct. A review in the Wall Street Journal stated that Buckley “is clearly a witty man, and wit, as he shows, redeems a great deal. The Morality of Laughter is a serious contribution to social and moral philosophy masquerading as an entertaining anatomy of an underappreciated human resource.”[6]

Contract Theory and Free Bargaining[edit]

Buckley’s Fair Governance: Paternalism and Perfectionism was published by Oxford U.P. in 2009.[7] In it he discusses arguments for and against paternalism (restrictions on the legal capacity to bargain) and perfectionism (the enforcement of morals). Buckley’s Just Exchange: A Theory of Contract (Routledge, 2005)[8] “fills a prominent hole in the literature, explaining economic terms and jargon with welcome clarity.”[9] The Fall and Rise of Freedom of Contract (Duke U.P., 1999),[10] which Buckley edited, describes how free contracting, under attack during much of the 20th century, has revived with the assistance of the law-and-economics movement. “These original papers by some of the most distinguished North American law-and-economics scholars make a strong case for the virtues of contractarianism across a wide spectrum of legal specialties, including contract law, tort law, family law, bankruptcy, and private international law.” [11]

When teaching in Canada, Buckley co-authored casebooks on Sales and Sales Financing and Corporations: Principles and Policies.[12]

Academic Scholarship[edit]

Buckley has published in the Journal of Legal Studies, the Virginia Law Review, the Cornell Law Journal, the International Review of Law and Economics, the UCLA Law Review, the University of Toronto Law Journal, and many other law reviews.

Journalism[edit]

Buckley is a senior editor of The American Spectator, and has also published in the Wall Street Journal, the National Post and the New Criterion, and has frequently been a guest on NPR and other talk programs. He has written on a variety of subjects, including bike lanes, the films of John Ford, James Thurber, and Canadian politics.

Personal life[edit]

Buckley was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. He attended St. Joseph’s College, a boarding school in Yorkton, Sask., from which he graduated in 1965. He lives in Alexandria VA with his wife, Esther. His daughter, Sarah, is a resident at the University of Washington Medical Center.

Academic career[edit]

Buckley graduated with a B.A. (Hons.) from McGill University in Montreal in 1969. He subsequently studied at the McGill Faculty of Law, where he served as editor in chief of the McGill Law Journal (vol. 20). He received an LL.B. from McGill in 1974, and an LL.M. from Harvard Law School in 1975, with a thesis on shareholder ratification in corporate law. He then worked at a Toronto law firm as an articling student, and from 1976-77 was an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. From 1977-82 he was an assistant, then an associate professor at the McGill Faculty of Law. Over 1982-84 he worked as a lawyer in Toronto, and from 1984-89 was an associate professor at the McGill Faculty of Law. Over 1988-89, on leave from McGill, he was a Visiting Olin Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School.

He joined the George Mason School of Law as a professor in 1989, and subsequently was appointed a Foundation Professor at George Mason. From 1999-2010 he was the executive director of the George Mason Law & Economics Center, which offered educational programs for judges. While at George Mason, he served twice as a visiting fellow and lecturer at the Sorbonne (Paris II), and also once at Sciences Po in Paris.

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