UofL alumnus Lowry Watkins funded the position to honor legacy of William Marshall Bullitt.
The Louis D. Brandeis School of Law has received funding from Lowry Watkins to create the William Marshall Bullitt Endowed Chair in Business Law. Watkins is a graduate of UofL’s College of Business (1968) and Bullitt’s grandson. He has been a longtime supporter of the law school.
Law Dean Susan Duncan expressed appreciation for the gift stating, “Thanks to Lowry, one of our most generous donors, we can forever honor the legacy of one of our most famous graduates, William Marshall Bullitt, and provide student scholarships, moot court experiences, access to important library materials and exposure to top notch faculty.”
Bullitt was a law school alumnus of national prominence who often used his aptitude for math to win cases. Bullitt (1873-1957) served as President Taft’s solicitor general, representing the government in arguments before the U. S. Supreme Court and making headlines for his role in the prosecution of a notorious Soviet spy.
On October 3, 2014 Lowry Watkins joined Duncan at a reception to celebrate the funding of the William Marshall Bullitt Endowed Chair in Business Law. The teaching and research emphasis of the chair will be on finance and business law. The date of the gathering had particular significance for Watkins since it marked the 57th anniversary of Bullitt’s death.
At the event—attended by more than 50 people including undergraduate and law students, local lawyers and faculty and staff—Watkins shared memories of his grandfather.
The law school hopes to fill this position by the fall 2017.
In recent years it seems that every nomination to the U. S. Supreme Court leads to partisan controversy. This exhibit displays political memorabilia from the collection of Professor Kurt Metzmeier that documents some of the most recent controversies. Also included are some buttons from the pre-Court political careers of justices, a button urging the election of a sitting justice as president, and humorous objects gently mocking the dignity of the Supreme Court.
While appointments to the Court had always stirred interest in legal circles, it wasn’t until the nomination of “the people’s lawyer” Louis D. Brandeis to the court that the nation saw an active campaign against a justice. Still, that nomination was somewhat of a special case, as Brandeis had stirred up unusual distaste among the banking and railroad trusts. Even President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s frequent battles with the Supreme Court did not lead to organized campaigns against his nominees. This is surprising since most early justices were drawn from political life and many had served as governors, senators, and even, in the case of William Howard Taft, president. Indeed, the only political activity involving Supreme Court justices until the late 20th century was an occasional convention boomlet to draft one of justices to run for the presidency. (William O. Douglas perhaps was the last sitting justice to entertain such dreams).
The first attempt by an organized political group to set its sights on a member of the Supreme Court was the conservative John Birch Society’s billboard campaign to impeach sitting Chief Justice Earl Warren for the perceived liberalism of his court. However, it was President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of conservative scholar Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1986 that set off the first full-scale campaign against a nominee; one that would lead to the word “Borking” being entered in the dictionary as a term for the process of defeating a judicial nomination. Metzmeier’s collection has no fewer than four different buttons involving this effort.
After the Bork nomination, things would never be the same. Buttons and bumper stickers would be employed to both support and oppose controversial nominations. In addition, the ability to possibly choose members of the Supreme Court would be noted in every presidential campaign. A classic 1996 campaign button features a free-spinning arrow pointing to the names of existing justices who (the button implies) could die or resign at any time and asks “Who do you want to choose the next Justice?” The Supreme Court now plays more prominent role in popular political culture than at any time. Its secret service nickname SCOTUS is well-known and forms part of a popular legal blog. And it hard to imagine any prior justice being so lovingly re-imaged as Justice Ginsburg has been as “The Notorious RGB.”
The exhibit is in the Law Library reading room through the end of 2014.