Tuesday, March 22, 2011

MAKING LAW REVIEW

By the early eighties, Thomas M. Cooley Law School was well established. Still, there was much to do. For one thing, we needed a Law Review. All respectable law schools have law reviews.

Making Law Review is the definition of success to many students.

Fortunately, we had a faculty member on board who knew something about starting academic publications. His name was Spencer Abraham. When a student at the Harvard Law School, Spencer had founded the Harvard Journal of Law and Policy. It is still being published and has earned the kind of prestige normally associated with Harvard. Spencer succeeded personally as well. He was eventually elected United States Senator from Michigan.

Spencer agreed to take on the job of faculty moderator. One of his first initiatives was to persuade me to write the inaugural article for the new publication.

I had been away from scholarly writing for a long time. While I had authored many opinions on the Supreme Court, they were not of the truly academic genre. And anyway, even opinion writing was then ten years ago.

I did have an interest, however, which got my juices flowing. Cooley had become a truly national law school. At every welcoming luncheon, I would ask the students from each state to stand and be recognized. There were always more than forty states represented. Realizing that they were part of a truly national class always bolstered the enthusiasm of the freshmen.

Not to mention how satisfying it was for the faculty and the admissions office.

The decade of the 1980’s was a special time in the history of the United States. It was the occasion to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of the establishment of our nation. Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown, the recognition of American independence, and finally, the adoption of the United States Constitution, made the 1780’s a special time in our history.

I conceived of the idea of conducting a convention as contemplated by Article V of the Federal Constitution, and I invited the Student Bar Association to participate.

I told them that if we could enlist the participation of actual registered voters from two-thirds of the states, we would convene and undertake to consider whatever amendments the students might propose.

I rented a huge tent, which enclosed the parking lot next to the administration building on South Grand Avenue. Rented tables and chairs. Had signs made identifying the states.

When the day came, more than two hundred student ‘delegates’ showed up. We had a credentials committee which examined the identification of each attendee, and directed them to the table where their state caucus was ensconced.

Phil Prygoski, our outstanding Con Law professor undertook to deliver the keynote address, whereupon, I took the microphone and tried to steer the assembly through the process of introducing, debating and voting on various proposed constitutional amendments.

It was a great exercise. I was especially touched by some of the personal experiences and backgrounds many of them brought to the table. On some issues, they were predictably liberal. On others, surprisingly traditional. The age and citizenship criteria for election as President were hotly contested, but ultimately not targeted for change.

The mock convention affirmed my determination to focus my law review article on the process of amending the constitution contemplated by Article V.

It would be a labor of love.

It was before I became addicted to word processing on the computer. I took out my lawyer-like yellow foolscap pad and across the top of the first page I scribbled the title.

Return to Philadelphia.

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