United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will visit the University next week to teach a constitutional law class and speak with law school students and alumni, the Law School will announce Wednesday.
Kennedy, who is often the swing vote in controversial decisions, will visit Penn from Oct. 2 to Oct. 4 as the inaugural guest of Penn Law’s Visiting Jurist Program — which is “designed to promote closer ties between eminent members of the judiciary and law students,” according to a press release.
“We are honored to welcome Justice Kennedy to the Law School,” Penn Law Dean Michael A. Fitts said in a statement. His visit “inaugurates a program that will provide our students with first-hand knowledge of how great judges go about the task of elaborating the law.”
Since his appointment in 1988, Kennedy has authored numerous decisions that have shaped American law. Recently, he authored controversial opinions in the 5-4 decision in Windsor v. the United States — which overturned the Defense of Marriage Act — and the 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a 2010 case that allowed unlimited political spending by corporations.
As part of his visit, Kennedy will teach a class in constitutional law to a group of first-year law students. He will also participate in a question-and-answer session with law professor Christopher Yoo, one of his former clerks, with an upperclassmen audience of over 300 students.
The lecture and Q&A will be an experience familiar to Kennedy; the justice taught constitutional law at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law from 1965 to 1988. Even while he’s been on the court, Kennedy has taught at the Pacific McGeorge international summer program for all but one of the past 23 years, and remains Pacific McGeorge’s longest-serving active faculty member.
The program, the press release said, will bring leading judges from across the country to campus for short stays, where they will teach classes and participate in discussions with faculty, students and other members of the Penn Law community.
“The Visiting Jurist Program puts a human face on the doctrine students learn in the classroom,” said Yoo, co-chair of the Law School’s Clerkship Committee, in a statement.
Penn Law hopes to bring at least one judge to campus per semester as part of the program. Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is tentatively scheduled to visit next semester.
The announcement of the program comes after Penn Law hired Judge Anthony J. Scirica of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals as a senior fellow to teach civil procedure. That hire — announced in February — was part of the school’s broader effort to create more interaction between students and the judiciary.