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  • Writer's pictureMKE Federalists

New Event: Conservative Case for Class Actions


RSVP Here by January 6, 2023

Please join the Milwaukee Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society at the Milwaukee Club on January 11, 2023 at 12:00 p.m. for an event featuring Brian T. Fitzpatrick, Milton R. Underwood Chair in Free Enterprise at Vanderbilt University.

In a new book published by the University of Chicago Press, Professor Brian Fitzpatrick makes the case for class action litigation from a surprising perspective: an unabashedly conservative point of view. Professor Fitzpatrick will join our chapter to discuss this exciting scholarship.

In his book Professor Fitzpatrick argues that all of us, conservatives and libertarians included, believe that markets need at least some policing to thrive, from laws that enforce contracts, to laws that prevent companies from committing fraud, to laws that prohibit price fixing. But he shows there are only two ways to do this policing: 1) private lawsuits filed by private citizens and their lawyers or 2) more government. He argues that, for the same reasons conservatives prefer other private sector solutions to problems, they should prefer private enforcement of the law as well.

Yet, for many market infractions—those involving small harms—the class action lawsuit is the only form of private enforcement possible because the harms are too small for anyone to sue on their own. Although the class action is not perfect, Professor Fitzpatrick shows in several data-driven chapters that our system is working better than might be expected given all the criticism it endures. Nonetheless, in the book’s final chapter, he suggests a few tweaks that he hopes will persuade conservatives to keep the class action around for the next generation of consumers, employees, and shareholders alike.

Brian Fitzpatrick is the Milton R. Underwood Chair in Free Enterprise and Professor of Law at Vanderbilt Law School. His research focuses on class action litigation, federal courts, judicial selection and constitutional law. Professor Fitzpatrick joined Vanderbilt's law faculty in 2007 after serving as the John M. Olin Fellow at New York University School of Law. He graduated first in his class from Harvard Law School and went on to clerk for Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. After his clerkships, Professor Fitzpatrick practiced commercial and appellate litigation for several years at Sidley Austin in Washington, D.C., and served as Special Counsel for Supreme Court Nominations to U.S. Senator John Cornyn. Before earning his law degree, Professor Fitzpatrick graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's of science in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame. He has received the Hall-Hartman Outstanding Professor Award, which recognizes excellence in classroom teaching, for his Civil Procedure course.

Please join us to hear about the conservative case for class actions. Lunch will be served.


As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.


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