May 16, 2013
In Memoriam: Richard CoulsonRichard Coulson, professor emeritus at Oklahoma City University School of Law, passed away last week. He was 70. Coulson joined the OCU faculty in 1969 and served as the school's dean from 1973-76.
April 25, 2013
Recent Passings: George Bunn and John Sutton Jr.In recent days, two significant senior colleagues have passed away. George Bunn, former law dean at the University of Wisconsin, died last Sunday. He was 87. In addition to his 17 years on the faculty at Wisconsin, which included leading the school from 1972-75, he was the first general counsel for the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from 1961-69. John Sutton Jr. passed away last Friday at the age of 95. He served on the University of Texas law faculty from 1957-2003, and was the school's dean from 1979-84.
February 14, 2013
In Memoriam: Ronald Dworkin (1931-2013)More here.
February 13, 2013
In Memoriam: Daniel MeadorDan Meador, the James Monroe Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Virginia, passed away on Saturday. He was 86. In addition to teaching at UVa, Meador - who received his JD from the University of Alabama - served as Alabama's dean from 1966-70.
January 31, 2013
In Memoriam: Richard BarnesProfessor Richard Barnes of the University of Mississippi School of Law passed away last week as a result of an automobile accident. Barnes, who joined the Mississippi faculty in 1989, was 58 years old.
January 14, 2013
In Memoriam: Jeff O'ConnellJeffrey O'Connell, Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia School of Law, passed away last week. He was 84. O'Connell, a torts and insurance scholar who was an early proponent of no-fault insurance, graduated from Harvard Law. Over his career, he also taught at Illinois and Iowa, and visited at a number of other schools.
January 11, 2013
In Memoriam: James HoggJames Hogg, a professor of law at William Mitchell College of Law, passed away this week at the age of 83. Hogg served as president and dean of William Mitchell from 1985-95. He also served as dean of Western State College of Law from 2001-03. He was a member of the University of Minnesota Law School faculty from 1956-70.
January 10, 2013
In Memoriam: Beth EislerProfessor Beth Eisler of the University of Toledo passed away last week. She started her academic career at Wayne State and served as the interim dean at Toledo in 2005. She was 66.
December 19, 2012
In Memoriam: Robert Bork (1927-2012)
Chicago's memorial notice is here. It correctly emphasizes his most important scholarly work, in the field of antitrust. In the legal academy, he was probably more widely known for his 1971 paper, "Neutral Principles and Some First Amendment Problems," a forceful argument for the proposition that, "Where constitutional materials do not clearly specify the value to be preferred, there is no principled way to prefer any claimed human value to any other." It also included the striking claim that,
Every clash between a minority claiming freedom and a majority claiming power to regulate involves a choice between the gratifications of the two groups. When the Constitution has not spoken, the Court will be able to find no scale, other than its own value preferences, upon which to weigh the respective claims to pleasure.
Much later in his career, this kind of hedonic value relativism would vanish from his work.
In the broader culture, of course, Judge Bork may be most-remembered for his name having been turned into a verb: "to bork" a judicial nominee was to subject the nominee to political attack (perhaps unfair political attack). In order to avoid being "borked," candidates for judicial office without substantial "paper trails" were preferred. My most striking recollection from the time of his unsuccessful nomination to the Court by President Reagan was the explanation offered to me by a senior partner at my New York law firm, who was subsequently President of the New York City Bar Association (which opposed the nomination). He said that what persuaded the NYC Bar to oppose Judge Bork was his willingness to overrule settled precedents that he deemed not to have a sound constitutional basis. Despite his seminal work on antitrust, it was overshadowed in the mind of these corporate lawyers by the constitutional vision of the 1971 paper, and what they felt was its contempt for precedent.
UPDATE: Interesting reflections on Judge Bork's career from Michael Dorf (Cornell).