Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dan Meltzer's Fed Courts

Deborah Pearlstein

Thanks to Marty for the lovely – and spot on – recollection of Harvard Law Professor Dan Meltzer, in the face of the terribly sad news of his death.  It was my great privilege to have met Dan Meltzer first as my teacher some years back, in his brilliant course on Federal Courts.  The course was for me the most challenging of law school, a first introduction to fundamental questions of the power of the federal courts, the role of habeas corpus, the nature of state sovereignty.  It was an intellectual feast, a treat apparent at the time. What I could not appreciate then was how invaluable Dan’s teaching would be in every professional experience I’ve had since – as a clerk reviewing habeas petitions, as a practicing attorney representing a client in litigation against the state, as a human rights lawyer assessing the scope of Congress’ ability to restrict the scope of judicial review in terrorism cases post-9/11, most recently as a law professor introducing my own students to first principles of federal power.  How many times since law school have I found myself asking, what has Dan Meltzer said about this?  It is only a small measure of his impact.  But having him as a teacher was an extraordinary gift, so insightful he was at marrying his work at the height of theory with the reality of law as lived. What a set of contributions he made.  What a loss for us all. 

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