Professor Jonathan Turley Delivers the Sixth Annual Holloway Lecture

Posted by Rabindranath Ramana on 11/28/2011

On October 20, 2011, Professor Jonathan Turley delivered the Sixth Annual Holloway Lecture at the Oklahoma History Center. Speaking to an audience of over 120 judges, lawyers and law students, Professor Turley outlined his proposal for reforming the United States Supreme Court. He suggested expanding its membership to nineteen justices and filling vacancies with candidates with a wider range of experiences and backgrounds than those of recent appointees. In his view, a larger and broader bench would improve the Court’s decisions, making the views of one or two of its members less important and enriching its jurisprudence with fresh ideas and perspectives. And with more colleagues on the bench, Professor Turley said, the justices could regularly sit with the federal courts of appeals—as they used to do. He suggest that this practice would allow the justices to acquire a better understanding of the implications of the Court’s precedent in routine cases. 

Professor Turley’s lecture was provocative, witty, and engaging. He sketched the Supreme Court’s uneven history—in which he found great and nearly-great jurists delivering wise and enduring opinions but also mediocre, reactionary, and incompetent ones who contributed little or nothing to the development of the law. In the midst of his proposal for reform, he paused to provide his list of the nine greatest Supreme Court Justices (John Marshall, Joseph Story, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Marshall Harlan, Louis Brandeis, Charles Evans Hughes, Hugo Black, Earl Warren, and William Brennan). He also came with high praise for his host city, remarking on the friendliness of its people and the moving experience of visiting the Oklahoma City Memorial.

The Oklahoma City Chapter of the Federal Bar Association sponsored the event, which included an opening reception and a dinner. The Chapter’s Board and its members were honored to host a speaker of Professor Turley’s accomplishments. He holds the Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law at the George Washington School of Law; teaches a wide range of subjects, including constitutional law, criminal law, torts, litigation, and environmental law; and has published dozens of articles in leading law journals and periodicals – addressing constitutional interpretation, Executive Privilege, military law, national security, and many other topics. He consults as expert on separation of powers, constitutional and statutory issues, tort reform, and homeland security, and he writes an award-winning eponymous blog. In the midst of these academic and scholarly pursuits, Professor Turley has devoted himself to litigation in the public interest, representing Congressmen, grand jurors, an Article III judge, Assistant United States Attorneys, and whistleblowers. The Dean of his law school reports that Professor Turley is selected to speak to each entering class because he inspires them to be passionate about their calling as lawyers.

In that regard, he resembles the man for whom the Oklahoma City Chapter’s lecture series is named. As Professor Turley put it, Judge William Holloway, Jr., represents the law at its best: fair, just, enlightening, ennobling and inclusive. The son of Governor William Judson Holloway and Amy Arnold Holloway, Judge Holloway graduated from the University of Oklahoma and Harvard Law School, and then worked for the United States Department of Justice and the Oklahoma City law firm of Crowe and Dunlevy. In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and he has served that court with unwavering dedication and grace for more than forty-three years. From 1984 until 1991, he presided as the court’s Chief Judge. His deep commitment to the scholarly and fair-minded resolution of the cases that come before him, as well as his courtesy and kindness to everyone he encounters, are widely renowned, not only by his fellow judges and his clerks, but by the practicing bar. His colleagues often invoke those qualities as one of the principal reasons that the 10th Circuit has become such a collegial court.

One of Judge Holloway’s most notable contributions has been as a mentor to law clerks who have worked with him in his chambers. This year, twenty of them returned to Oklahoma City from cities as far away as San Francisco, Denver, Wichita, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Boston to attend the Holloway Lecture. Before Professor Turley began his remarks, United States Magistrate Judge Robert Bacharach (who clerked for Judge Holloway from 1985 to 1987) described the gift that Judge Holloway’s clerks had prepared for him: a book of letters and photographs, expressing the impact that he has had on their careers and sharing some of their personal and professional experiences since their clerkships. In his graceful and gentlemanly way, Judge Holloway thanked all of them—for coming to the lecture, for their friendship, and for their work in his chambers. 

In addition to Judge Holloway and Professor Turley, the Oklahoma City Chapter honored two law students: Sahar Joohani of the University of Oklahoma College of Law and Kyle Rogers of the Oklahoma City University School of Law, the Chapter’s first two Holloway Scholars. The Chapter established the scholarships to provide financial support for law students who have demonstrated the commitment to civility, professionalism, academic excellence and community involvement that is reflected in the career of Judge Holloway himself. United States Magistrate Judge Valerie Couch, who led the Chapter’s efforts to create the scholarships, introduced Ms. Joohani and Mr. Rogers to the Holloway Lecture audience.

Ms. Joohani, who spent part of her childhood in Iran, is a third year student at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. She is fluent in Farsi and Azeri and speaks French and Arabic. She obtained a degree in international studies from the University of Oklahoma and has studied abroad in France and in Jordan. In law school, she has served on the Law Review and been involved in the civil rights moot court competitions. She is the Coordinator for the International law students organization, the historian of the Black Law Students Association and a section leader for the Dean’s mentorship program. Mr. Rogers, a May 2011 graduate of the Oklahoma City University School of Law, served as Editor-in-Chief of the OCU Law Review. While in school, he also served as an intern in the drug and violent crime unit of the United States Attorney’s office for the Western District of Oklahoma. He is a marathon runner and cycling enthusiast and volunteers at the City Rescue Mission, where he serves lunch every Sunday. In concluding her introductions, Judge Couch remarked, "I hope all of you will have an opportunity to get to know these wonderful people, and that years from now they will be here – along with many a growing group of Holloway Scholars –to celebrate our community, to support each other in the work of our noble profession and to give honor to Judge Holloway."

The Oklahoma City Chapter established the Holloway Lecture in 2006. Judge Bacharach, a member of the Chapter’s Board of Directors at that time, explained, "Many of us who were involved with the local chapter at that time had been profoundly influenced by Judge Holloway’s warmth, humility, and dedication to justice. We wanted to create a tradition that would honor him while enriching our legal community with the reflections of prominent scholars, just as Judge Holloway’s work and example have enriched so many of us." In past years, the Holloway Lecture has been delivered by Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, Judge Patrick Higginbotham, David Boies, Judge Neal Gorsuch, and Judge Diane Wood. Next year’s speaker is Professor Michael McConnell, the Director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center at Stanford University Law School.

After listening to Professor Turley’s lecture and hearing from so many fellow lawyers whom Judge Holloway has inspired, all of us in attendance would agree with the observation of one of the judge’s colleagues: "Your lovely and tender soul makes us all want to do better and reach higher." We are grateful that we could share this wonderful evening with him.