Skip to main content area Skip to main content area Skip to institutional navigation Skip to search Skip to section navigation

Penn Law launches Visiting Jurist Program, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy to be inaugural Visitor, Oct. 2 - 4

September 25, 2013

In October the University of Pennsylvania Law School will formally launch the innovative Visiting Jurist Program, designed to promote closer ties between eminent members of the judiciary and law students. The inaugural Penn Law Visiting Jurist will be Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, who as part of his time at Penn Law October 2 - 4 will participate in dialogues on the law with students as well as alumni, and teach a class in constitutional law, in addition to other activities.

The Law School’s Visiting Jurist Program brings leading judges from across the country to campus for short stays of up to several days, during which time they teach classes, participate in discussions, and meet informally with faculty, groups of students, and other members of the Law School community.

By inviting judges to spend time at the Law School, the program is intended to provide students with a rare opportunity to get to know and interact with leading members of the judiciary.

“We are honored to welcome Justice Kennedy to the Law School. His visit will be both instructive and deeply inspiring to our students,” said Dean Michael A. Fitts. “It’s crucial for law schools today to build strong bridges between the academy and the profession, including the judiciary. Justice Kennedy’s 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.”

As part of its initiative to forge stronger ties to the judiciary, the Law School also recently appointed Senior Judge Anthony J. Scirica of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to the faculty to teach civil procedure. The underlying goal of providing students with real-world knowledge and experience through such professional encounters has also strengthened its already extensive clinical and externship programs in recent years. For instance, a Supreme Court Clinic in which students work on actual cases each term is conducted in partnership with the Paul Hastings law firm in Washington, DC, and a clinical externship program in federal  appellate litigation is offered in collaboration with Dechert’s Philadelphia office.

Judges participating in the Visiting Jurist Program are invited to teach a class in an area of interest. Justice Kennedy will be teaching a class in constitutional law to a group of first-year students. He will also participate in a question-and-answer dialogue with Professor Christopher Yoo for an audience of 300 upper-class students.

Yoo, a former Law Clerk to Justice Kennedy, is co-chair of the Law School’s Clerkships Committee, which has organized the program.

“The Visiting Jurist Program puts a human face on the doctrine students learn in the classroom,” said Yoo, the John H. Chestnut Professor of Law and Professor of Communication and Computer & Information Science. “That’s something that normally happens during a clerkship, which is a formative experience in the lives of many young lawyers. We encourage all of our students to seek judicial clerkships, and we expect that these visits will provide them with a preview of the close mentoring relationships that frequently develop between judges and their clerks.”

The program is designed to bring one or more judges to campus each semester. Justice Kennedy’s visit will be followed in February with a visit by Judge David S. Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Justice Kennedy was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, after serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He occupies a central position on the Court, frequently casting the decisive vote on many of its most closely watched 5-4 decisions.

In addition to sitting on the nation’s highest court, Justice Kennedy carries on a remarkable series of educational activities. He has lectured in law schools and universities throughout the country and in other parts of the world, particularly China, where he is a frequent visitor.  He has also written an exercise for attorneys and law students entitled “The Trial of Hamlet,” in which forensic psychiatrists testify regarding the criminal responsibility of Shakespeare’s hero.

From 1965 to 1988, Kennedy was an adjunct Professor of Constitutional Law at the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, in Sacramento, Calif., where he was born and raised.