Mitchell N. Berman

Mitchell N. Berman
  • Leon Meltzer Professor of Law

Contact Information


Past Courses



  • LAW 999 - ISP


    Formal organized sports - from the NFL to NASCAR to the LPGA - are either genuine legal systems of a specialized kind or close analogues to legal systems. Like ordinary legal systems, they use general rules, promulgated by rule-making bodies and enforced by impartial adjudicators, to facilitate or incentivize desired behaviors and to prevent or deter undesired behaviors. As such, sports are proper subjects of study by legal scholars and philosophers. A standard course on "sports law" examines the regulation of sports by law. This course, in contrast, examines sports as legal systems in their own right. A small sample of the topics to be addressed includes: (1) What are sports, and what is their relationship to games? (The IOC has determined that bridge and chess are sports. Is this correct? Does it matter?) (2) What form should the rules take? (For example, should sports rules contain "mens rea" terms? Should they be more "rule-like" or more "standard-like"?) (3) How much discretion do and should officials have? (Chief Justice Roberts said that "judges are like umpires." Is this true? In what ways?) (4) Should on-field decisions be appealable and, if so, what should the procedures and standards of appellate review be? (For example, is the "indisputable visual evidence standard" of review in the NFL and NCAA football justified?) (5) What is cheating? (Did the badminton players at the London Olympics who tried to lose "cheat"? Do baseball players cheat when they falsely claim to be hit by a pitch?) (6) What should the rules of eligibility be? (Should women be allowed to compete against men? Should MTF transgender athletes be allowed to compete against cisgender women? Should double amputees like the South African Oscar Pistorius be allowed to compete against non-disabled runners?) In exploring questions like these, the course will, where appropriate, draw upon, and examine possible lessons for, ordinary law. The course is therefore both an in-depth and rigorous investigation into sports and a vehicle for deepening one's understanding of law. It is appropriate for law students and for non-law students seeking an engaging and accessible introduction to legal systems and legal analysis.



    This seminar will examine leading academic theories of constitutional interpretation, starting with classic texts by (for illustration) Thayer, Wechsler, Ely, Bobbitt, Dworkin, and Scalia, and emphasizing current debates within originalism and between originalists and their critics. While the focus will be on American constitutional interpretation, we will also see how that literature is currently running up against, and possibly contributing to, more "philosophical" or "jurisprudential" accounts of the contents of law. Consistent with the nature of the material, the reading load is likely to be somewhat heavier and more demanding than in the average seminar. Students will be expected to read the assigned material carefully and to participate actively in class discussions; they will have the option of submitting either a single research paper or several shorter papers.


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Familiar hedging options like commodities are no longer safe havens against core inflation, according to new research co-authored by Wharton's Nikolai Roussanov.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 7/20/2021
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Contractors are outsiders who don’t have the social capital needed to be effective managers, but new research from Wharton’s Peter Cappelli shows how they are leveraging their outsider status for the win.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 7/20/2021
Learning to Be a Better Leader

In his latest book, 'The Edge,' Wharton management professor Michael Useem profiles 10 chief executives and shares their strategies for sustained success.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 7/20/2021