The Ambassador of Italy to the United States, Mariangela Zappia, hosted a conversation at Villa Firenze among Yale judge and professor emeritus Guido Calabresi, Prof. Norman Silber, author of the book Outside In: The Oral History of Guido Calabresi, and Professor Antonio Monda. Guests included Attorney General Merrick Garland, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, American academics, cultural, and media figures. The event was also attended by Sen. Gelimini, the Hon. Di Sanzo and the Hon. De Castro, Gazzini and Rondinelli MEPs.
“An exceptional testimony. That of an Italian from a prominent family of Jewish origin; a refugee who left Italy after the promulgation of the racial laws; an American who indelibly shaped the teaching and practice of law in the United States.” This is how Ambassador Zappia introduced Guido Calabresi at the opening of the event.
The conversation, led by Antonio Monda along the thread of the judge’s professional and personal journey since his family’s landing in New Haven in 1939, offered insights into such topics as the influence of ethics and religion on legal thought, the relationship between politics and jurisprudence, the different approaches to the teaching and practice of law in Italy and the United States, the evolution of economic analysis of law, a branch of which Calabresi is considered one of the founding fathers, as well as on commonalities and differences between the responsibilities associated with teaching law and the judiciary profession.
Born in Milan, Italy, in 1932. Son of Massimo Calabresi, a cardiologist, and Bianca Maria Finzi-Contini, a scholar, Guido Calabresi moved with his family from Milan to New Haven, Connecticut, in 1939. He has been a U.S. citizen since 1948.
Bachelor of Science in economics from Yale in 1953. B.A. from Magdalen College, Oxford in 1955, Bachelor of Laws from Yale in 1958 and master’s degree from Oxford University in 1959. Clerk for Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black (1958-1959), Calabresi began teaching at Yale Law School in 1959. In 1960 he was offered the position of full professor, which he took in 1962, the youngest in the University’s history, after completing his clerkship. From 1985 to 1994, he was dean of the Law School, where he remains professor emeritus. Yale established the “Guido Calabresi” Professorship of Law in 2006.
Calabresi’s alumni include Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas (whose nomination he supported) and Sonia Sotomayor, former AG Michael Mukasey, feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon, professors Richard H. Fallon, Kenneth Abraham, Kenji Yoshino, Catherine Sharkey, former White House Counsel Gregory Craig, and Sen. John Danforth.
Calabresi has received more than 40 honorary degrees from universities around the world, including the Italian Universities of Pavia and Brescia and the Catholic University of Milan.
A city councilman in Woodbridge, Connecticut, from 1971 to 1975, Guido Calabresi in 1994 was appointed by President Bill Clinton as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
One of the founders of economic analysis of law along with Ronald Coase, Calabresi made pioneering contributions to the application of economic analysis in civil law.
Calabresi is the author of four books and more than 100 articles on legal topics. His essay “Property Rules, Liability Rules and Inalienability: One View of the Cathedral” published in the Harvard Law Review in 1972 is widely cited in U.S. legal literature.