U.Va. Tip Sheet: Law Professors Available to Talk About U.S. Supreme Court Vacancy

April 9, 2010 — The following University of Virginia law professors are available to talk about the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens, potential nominees and the future of the court. Professor George Rutherglen clerked for Stevens.

A.E. Dick Howard
434-924-3097, adh3m@virginia.edu
White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs
Earle K. Shawe Research Professor

An expert in the fields of constitutional law, comparative constitutionalism and the Supreme Court, A.E. Dick Howard was a law clerk to Justice Hugo L. Black and has studied the court’s ideological move to the right. Howard was executive director of the commission that wrote Virginia's current constitution and has been counsel to the General Assembly of Virginia. He has been a consultant to state and federal bodies, including the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. From 1982 to 1986 he served as counselor to the governor of Virginia, and he chaired Virginia's Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.

“In recent years, Stevens seems in some ways to be the court's conscience,” Howard said. “When the court weighed the legality of execution by lethal injection, Stevens said that he had relied on his ‘own experience’ in deciding that the death penalty could not be defended, even though he felt bound by the Court's precedents in such cases. Stevens' sense of fairness and the rule of law was amply displayed in detention cases where he rebuffed major aspects of the Bush Administration's war on terrorism.

“Whoever replaces Stevens on the court, the voting pattern will not likely be affected. Assuming that the new justice is of at least moderately liberal persuasion, outwardly things are not apt to change very much. But what the more liberal wing of the Court will lose is a justice with a seasoned sense of strategy and a distinctive voice.

“When President Obama puts forth a nominee, we can expect hearings to take place in an atmosphere in heightened partisanship,” Howard added. “In an age of Tea Parties, the debate over health care, anticipation of midterm elections and positioning for the next presidential election, we can hardly expect public debate over filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court to take place on the level of dispassionate concern for the common good.”

Related Media quotes:
"Kennedy Rules; Supreme Court Strikes Down Handgun Ban" (Bloomberg)
"U.S. Supreme Court: Next President Could Shift the Law on Abortion, Affirmative Action" (Lawyers USA)
"U.S. Supreme Court's Swing to Right" (BBC News)
George Rutherglen
434-924-7015, gar3h@virginia.edu
John Barbee Minor Distinguished Professor of Law
Edward F. Howrey Professor of Law

George Rutherglen is available to talk about the legacy of Justice John Paul Stevens.

Rutherglen came to Virginia's law faculty in 1976, after clerking for U.S. Supreme Court Justices William O. Douglas and John Paul Stevens. He teaches the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, admiralty, civil procedure, employment discrimination and professional responsibility.

Related Media Quotes:
"Court Topples Sotomayor Ruling in Firefighter Case" (NPR)

Risa Goluboff
434-249-6245; rlg3t@virginia.edu
Professor of Law
Professor of History
Caddell & Chapman Research Professor

Risa Goluboff teaches constitutional law, civil rights litigation and legal history. Her scholarship focuses on the history of civil rights, labor and constitutional law in the 20th century. She clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

In the media:
"The Battle Over Brown/How Conservatives Appropriated Brown v. Board of Education" (author) (Slate)
"Commentary: The Real World/Why Judicial Philosophies Matter" (co-author) (Slate)

G. Edward White 
434-977-7549, gew@virginia.edu
David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law
G. Edward White, an expert in Supreme Court history and constitutional law, clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a fellow of the Society of American Historians, and a member of the American Law Institute. He has written books on Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Chief Justice Warren and numerous articles on the Supreme Court.
Related Media quotes:
"High Court Becomes More Media Friendly" (Associated Press)
"Supreme Switch/Did FDR's Threat to 'Pack' the Court in 1937 Really Change the Course of Constitutional History? " (The Boston Globe)
"Supreme Court/You Say You Want a Revolution " (National Journal)