“Are State Constitutions Fundamentally Progressive Documents (and Why Should we Care)?”

OCU LAW’s 2010-2011 Brennan Lecturer will be Daniel B. Rodriguez, the Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law. He also is a professor of government (by courtesy) and a research fellow in law and urban economics at the Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University. Professor Rodriguez will speak at 5 p.m. Thursday, October 21, in the Homsey Family Moot Courtroom. The title of his remarks will be “Are State Constitutions Fundamentally Progressive Documents (and Why Should We Care)?”

Before coming to Texas in 2007, Professor Rodriguez served as Dean and Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego. He was previously on the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall) School Law. Professor Rodriguez has had visiting appointments at many universities and law schools including USC, UCSD, Illinois, Virginia, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the Free University of Amsterdam. During the Spring of 2011, he will serve as the Stephen & Barbara Friedman visiting professor at Columbia University Law School.

Professor Rodriguez has written widely on state constitutional law, generally looking to both the doctrine and the structure of state and local government to illuminate the question of how can we best organize our systems of governance to improve social and economic well-being. The question at the heart of this Brennan lecture concerns how ambitious and innovative can state constitutions be in realizing broad, and often controversial, governance objectives. Some of the key controversies of modern state constitutional law, including same-sex marriage, the regulation of private property, and the management of scarce fiscal resources, are tackled in the shadow of state constitutions. When formal doctrine runs out and the inquiry turns back to whether state and local officials and agencies have the power – and, indeed, the responsibility – to deal constructively with these vexing problems, then we are squarely at the question: Are state constitutions “progressive” documents and, if so, what does this mean practically for public governance and state constitutional law?

In addition to his work on state constitutional law, Professor Rodriguez has written and spoken widely on a range of topics in American public law, including administrative law, statutory interpretation, local government law, and property law. His work is broadly interdisciplinary, drawing upon political science and economics to illuminate questions of public policy and legal theory. He has published many articles in various legal and social science journals and has recently contributed chapters to two separate Oxford Handbooks, one on political economy and the other on law and politics. He is the author of a forthcoming book on State Constitutional Law and its Processes (Aspen Press).

Professor Rodriguez is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and California State University Long Beach. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and the American Bar Foundation and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools.

Named in honor of Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., the Brennan Lecture at OCU LAW brings leading scholars in state constitutional law to campus. The Brennan Lecture is sponsored by the Center for the Study of State Constitutional Law and Government, under the direction of Professor of Law Andrew Spiropoulos with assistant directors Professor of Law Dennis Arrow and Assistant Professor of Law Michael O’Shea. By sponsoring workshops, scholarly writing and public lectures, the Center takes advantage of its location in the heart of Oklahoma’s capital city to promote scholarship and discussion on important issues relating to state and local government.

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