University of South Carolina

Constitution Day lecture to focus on public skepticism of judges

Contact: Peggy Binette 803-777-5400

Public skepticism of judges will be the focus of this year’s Constitution Day lecture at the University of South Carolina Thursday, Sept. 15.

Dr. Keith J. Bybee, a professor and expert in constitutional law and the judicial process at Syracuse University, will speak at 7 p.m. in the law school auditorium. The title of his talk is “All Judges Are Political—Except When They Are Not: Acceptable Hypocrisies and the Rule of Law.” The talk is free and open to the public.

“Constitution Day is not just a chance to remember key events in the history of the United States; it’s also an opportunity to think about how our legal order operates today,” Bybee said. “American judges rule on a range of controversial issues, and their actions are often seen as political. At the same time, judicial decisions are widely accepted.”

Bybee said he will address how judges remain deeply involved in politics and yet somehow still manage to be viewed as impartial arbiters.

“We live in an age when many citizens regard judges as fair interpreters of the law and as activists legislating from the bench,” he said. “Although this pervasive public skepticism raises fears about the loss of judicial legitimacy, such skepticism is actually an expression of how our legal system ordinarily functions.”

Bybee is the Paul E. and the Hon. Joanne F. Alper ’72 Judiciary Studies professor at Syracuse University, where he has a joint appointment in the College of Law and the department of political science in the Maxwell School. His research and teaching focus on legal theory, political philosophy, the politics of race and ethnicity and American politics and the media. He has written three books and numerous articles in a variety of academic journals.

In 2004, the late Robert Byrd of West Virginia led an initiative to make Sept. 17 a national day of observance of the U.S. Constitution, which was signed on that date in 1787.

The university’s annual commemoration is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the School of Law, the College of Arts and Sciences and its department of political science.

For more information contact Dr. Dan Sabia, chairman of the department of political science at 803-777-3109 or via email at


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Posted: 08/23/11 @ 2:05 PM | Updated: 10/13/11 @ 1:37 PM | Permalink



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