PUBLISHED:April 14, 2021

Four Duke Law faculty named to Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court


President Joe Biden appointed Professors Guy-Uriel Charles, Walter Dellinger, Margaret H. Lemos, and David F. Levi to the bipartisan group of experts on the Court and the Court reform debate. 

Four members of the Duke Law faculty – Professors Guy-Uriel Charles, Walter Dellinger, Margaret H. Lemos, and David F. Levi – have been appointed to the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States, the White House announced April 9.

President Joe Biden issued an executive order forming the commission, comprised of a bipartisan group of experts on the Court and the Court reform debate. In addition to legal and other scholars, the Commissioners includes former federal judges and practitioners who have appeared before the Court, as well as advocates for the reform of democratic institutions and of the administration of justice. The expertise represented on the Commission includes constitutional law, history and political science.

The Commission’s purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals. The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.

To ensure that the Commission’s report is comprehensive and informed by a diverse spectrum of views, it will hold public meetings to hear the views of other experts, and groups and interested individuals with varied perspectives on the issues it will be examining.

The Executive Order directs that the Commission complete its report within 180 days of its first public meeting. This action is part of the Administration’s commitment to closely study measures to improve the federal judiciary, including those that would expand access the court system.

Professor Guy Charles
Guy-Uriel Charles

Charles is the Edward and Ellen Schwarzman Professor of Law. He writes about the relationship between law and political power and law’s role in addressing racial subordination. He teaches courses on civil procedure; election law; constitutional law; race and law; legislation and statutory interpretation; law, economics, and politics; and law, identity, and politics. He is currently working on book, with Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, on the past and future of voting rights, under contract with Cambridge University Press. He is also co-editing, with Aziza Ahmed, a handbook entitled Race, Racism, and the Law, under contract with Edward Elgar Publishing. This book will survey the current state of research on race and the law in the United States and aims to influence the intellectual agenda of the field. He clerked on the Sixth Circuit for the late Judge Damon J. Keith. He has published numerous articles in top law journals. He is the co-author of two leading casebooks and two edited volumes. He is also a member of the American Law Institute. On July 1, 2021, he will become the inaugural Charles J. Ogletree Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

Professor Walter Dellinger
Walter Dellinger

Dellinger is the Douglas Maggs Emeritus Professor of Law and a partner in the firm of O’Melveny & Myers. He was named one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America by the National Law Journal and is the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards from the American Lawyer, the American Constitution Society and the Mississippi Center for Justice. Dellinger served in the White House and as assistant attorney general and head of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) from 1993 to 1996. He was acting solicitor general for the 1996-97 term of the U.S. Supreme Court. He has argued 25 cases before the Court and has testified more than 30 times before committees of Congress. He has published in academic journals including the Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal and Duke Law Journal, and has written extensively for the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Slate, and other publications. In 1987-88 he was a scholar at the National Humanities Center and has lectured at universities throughout the United States and other countries including China, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, Italy, Brazil, and Denmark. He graduated from University of North Carolina and Yale Law School and served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black.

Professor Margaret Lemos
Margaret H. Lemos

Lemos is the Robert G. Seaks LL.B. ’34 Professor of Law, senior associate dean for Faculty and Research, and faculty co-advisor for the Bolch Judicial Institute. She is a scholar of constitutional law, legal institutions, and procedure. Her current research focuses on the institutions of law interpretation and enforcement, including both public and private lawyers, and their effects on substantive rights. Lemos is also a co-author of a new multidisciplinary coursebook on judicial decision making. She teaches courses on civil procedure, legislation, and judicial process, and was awarded Duke’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2013. Prior to joining the Duke Law faculty, Lemos was an associate professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; a Bristow Fellow at the Office of the Solicitor General; and a law clerk for Judge Kermit V. Lipez of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and for U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. She received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her B.A. from Brown University.

Professor David F. Levi
David F. Levi

Levi is the Levi Family Professor of Law and Judicial Studies and Director of the Bolch Judicial Institute. He was previously the James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean of Duke Law School. He served as dean for 11 years from 2007 to 2018. Prior to his appointment at Duke, Levi was the Chief United States District Judge for the Eastern District of California with chambers in Sacramento. He was appointed to the district court in 1990. From 1986 to 1990 he was the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California. Following graduation from Stanford Law School in 1980, Levi served as a law clerk to Judge Ben C. Duniway of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then to Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., of the U.S. Supreme Court. Levi has served as member and chair of two U.S. Judicial Conference committees — the Advisory Committee on the Civil Rules and the Standing Committee on the Rules of Practice and Procedure. He was chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the American Judicial System (2014-2016). He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author or co-author of several books, articles, and published speeches mostly on the judiciary, judicial independence, and judicial decision-making. He is president of the American Law Institute.