March 21, 2014

Chemerinsky to present Lesar lecture

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, and an expert on constitutional law, will discuss the U.S. Supreme Court and civil rights in light of two milestone anniversaries. 

Chemerinsky will present the 2014 SIU School of Law Hiram H. Lesar Distinguished Lecture at 5 p.m., Thursday, March 27, in the law school auditorium.  He will examine the legacy of a landmark case and statute when he presents “The Supreme Court and Civil Rights on the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education and the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” 

The event is free and open to the public. 

The lecture also takes place during the weekend marking the law school’s 40th anniversary.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the lecture. To make arrangements for interviews or for more information on the lecture, contact Alicia Ruiz, the law school’s director of communications and outreach, at 618/453-8700.

Dean Cynthia L. Fountaine said the law school is pleased that Chemerinsky will present 20th Lesar Lecture, which dates back to 1992 and honors the SIU School of Law founding dean.  Chemerinsky was one of Fountaine’s professors in law school, and “is extremely well known and respected in the legal academic community as well as throughout the legal profession,” she said. 

“Dean Chemerinsky’s visit provides an exciting opportunity for the entire community to hear from a renowned constitutional law scholar,” she said.  “Dean Chemerinsky is adored by his students -- past and present -- and respected by his colleagues as one of the greatest constitutional law teachers and scholars of our time. But the thing that stands out about Dean Chemerinsky is that he is not only an ivory tower thinker, but he is one of the most outstanding human beings I know. 

“He has had extraordinary accomplishments -- started a new law school, practiced before the United States Supreme Court -- and yet he still makes time to give his students the one-on-one attention they need,” Fountaine said. 

Prior to coming becoming founding dean at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, Chemerinsky was on the faculty at Duke Law School from 2004 to 2008.  He taught for 21 years at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law from 1983 to 2004, and at the DePaul College of Law, from 1980 to 1983. 

He is the author of eight books, including “The Conservative Assault on the Constitution,” in 2010.  His newest book, “The Case Against the Supreme Court,” will be published this year.  Chemerinsky also frequently argues cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and in the U.S. Court of Appeals. In its January edition, “The National Jurist” magazine named Chemerinsky at the top of its list of the “2013 Most Influential People in Legal Education.” 

Chemerinsky earned his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and law degree from Harvard Law School. 

As part of the law school’s 40th anniversary celebration, Barbara Lesar, widow of the late Hiram Lesar, will receive the School of Law Founder’s Medal during a special event at the law school beginning at 6 p.m. March 29. 

The Founder’s Medal is the highest honor awarded by the SIU School of Law. Prior recipients include Hiram Lesar, Richard Hart, Max Turner, Dr. Leo Garwin and the Gilbert family, including J. Phil Gilbert, a U.S. District Court senior judge for the Southern District of Illinois. 

Contact Judi Ray for more information about 40th anniversary events at 618/453/8135 or by email at