Lecture visits Constitutional history
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Professor focuses on James Madison’s contributions
The spirit of one of the founding fathers has been lost in modern practices of Constitutional interpretation, according to one UNLV guest.
The William S. Boyd School of Law continued its annual Philip Pro Lectureship in Legal History on Tuesday, presenting a guest lecturer from the Stanford Law School.
Larry Kramer, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of the Stanford Law School, gave a lecture entitled “The Interest of the Man: James Madison and the Problem of Constitutional Enforcement.”
The lecture built upon Kramer’s book, “The People Themselves: Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review,” originally published in 2004. The talk focused on the political philosopher and fourth president of the United States, James Madison — specifically his contributions to the Constitutional precursor, the Federalist Papers.
Kramer examined the political process the founders used to oversee the development and implementation of the U.S. Constitution.
“We know from American history that the Supreme Court was never intended to play the kind of role it has come to assume in the past few decades,” Kramer explained. ”Our founders created a republican form of government in which ultimate authority over the interpretation, as well as the making, of constitutional law rested in the community and with the people themselves. But the original theory of this popular constitutionalism has been lost along with the practice.”
Kramer’s supported this theory through a rereading of James Madison’s most famous and , he said, misunderstood contributions, “Publius: Federalist 10 and 51.”
The idea, Kramer said, is to provoke thinking about how such a system might work today.
Kramer has a wide area of expertise, including civil procedure and litigation, conflict of laws, constitutional law and legal history.
“Dean Kramer is among the most significant figures in American legal history with important work on popular constitutionalism,” said John White, dean of the William S. Boyd School of Law. “His lecture should be of interest to any student who cares about our Constitution and how it is interpreted.”
The Boyd School of Law presented the lecture in partnership with the Stanford Alumni Club of Southern Nevada.
Kramer is the Stanford Law School’s 12th dean and has been at the forefront of actuating significant educational reforms since he took the position in 2004. Kramer’s reform to the Stanford Law School has included an expansion of joint degree programs as a part of a multidisciplinary approach to legal studies, the promotion of reflective lawyering through the enlarging of the school’s clinical education program and building an international law program to support emphasis on the globalization of legal practice.
“The Phil Pro lecture focuses on legal history and features leading figures in the field who have recently published significant works,” White said.
Started in 2004, the Philip Pro Lectureship in Legal History is named in honor of U.S. District Court Judge Philip Pro. The series, held at UNLV’s law school, brings an internationally prominent scholar to lecture annually.