WACO, Texas -
On February 17th, Akhil Reed Amar, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, spoke in the Jim Kronzer Appellate Advocacy Classroom & Courtroom at the Sheila & Walter Umphrey Law Center.
The lecture was the third installment of the John and Marie Chiles Federalist Papers Lecture Series, entitled, "Probing the Minds of Hamilton, Madison & Jay: The Guidance of the Federalist Papers." More than 325 people were in attendance, including undergraduates from Baylor's honors college, philosophy and political science departments, lawyers from Waco and central Texas, the general public, and Baylor Law students.
Baylor Law School Dean Brad Toben gave opening remarks, commenting on the importance of our American democracy established by our Founding Fathers and the role of the Federalist Papers in the creation of our society as we know it today. He also warmly thanked John, JD '50, and Marie Chiles for their support of the law school and the Federalist Papers Lecture Series. Following Dean Toben, Judge Ken Starr entertained the crowd with humorous witticisms as he introduced Professor Amar.
Amar began with an invitation to the crowd to "unlearn" their common beliefs about the Federalist Papers. Primarily, Amar challenged the crowd to "unlearn" the widely held belief that the later federalist papers were the most popular and influential papers during the early formation of America. Instead, Amar argued, it was the early papers that shaped America and convinced the burgeoning states to form a "more perfect union."
Professor Amar spoke on England and Scotland's union and the defensive geostrategic advantages of being bordered by a body of water, and how Hamilton, Madison, and Jay recognized that the only chance America had for sustained political freedom was to unite under one indivisible union and to create a navy to defend our Atlantic shore from foreign invaders. A navy, Amar observed, is a unique defensive advantage because fewer people are required to staff a successful navy than a land based militia, and, as a non-land based force, a navy is not a great threat to freedom as an occupying force. With a strong navy to repel long distance attacks, the Federalist writers concluded that America would be certain to enjoy many generations of freedom from external military threats.
Professor Amar concluded by speaking briefly on the existential crisis we are currently facing as a country. Citing the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the New York World Trade Center as the first example of a successful foreign attack on American soil since The War of 1812, and the nature of nuclear warfare and globalization, Amar stressed that it is not our culture, or politics, or religious beliefs that makes us American. It is our collective union under the great creeds of our country–the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Emancipation Proclamation, the I Have a Dream speech–that makes us distinctly American. At the end of the lecture, Amar fielded questions from the crowd, signed books, and mingled with those in attendance.
Professor Akhil Reed Amar teaches constitutional law at both Yale College and Yale Law School. After graduating from Yale College summa cum laude in 1980 and from Yale Law School in 1984, he joined Yale faculty in 1985. He has earned many awards for his work from both the American Bar Association and the Federalist Society.
"Professor Amar is a nationally recognized scholar of the U.S. Constitution and the principles that guided its development," said Brad Toben, dean of Baylor Law School. "Baylor Law is honored to present this lecture on the place of the Federalist Papers of Hamilton, Madison and Jay in the development of the Constitution. The lecture is made possible through the philanthropy and civic-mindedness of our dear friends John and Marie Chiles."
Established in 1857, Baylor Law School was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,400 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law School has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature, among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law's trial advocacy program as #3 in the nation. Baylor Law School is also ranked #51 in the magazine's 2018 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools." The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the "Best School for Practical Training," and #4 in the nation in its most recent "Best Law School Facilities" listing. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law School received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award's inception in 1984.
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 D1 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big XII Conference. Learn more at baylor.edu