News Center

Elsewhere Online twitter Facebook SLS Blogs YouTube SLS Channel Linked In SLSNavigator SLS on Flickr

Stanford Law School Launches Constitutional Law Center

Publication Date: 
August 31, 2006
Stanford Law School

STANFORD, Calif.–Stanford Law School has announced the launch of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, headed by former Dean Kathleen M. Sullivan, Stanley Morrison Professor of Law and nationally prominent constitutional scholar, as its inaugural Director. Derek Shaffer, a 2000 graduate of the law school and attorney at Cooper & Kirk, will return to his alma mater, where he graduated at the top of his class, to serve as the Center’s first Executive Director.

The Constitutional Law Center has been established as a nonpartisan venue to explore and improve public understanding of the most pressing constitutional issues, with a particular focus on:

  • the separation and scope of legislative, executive and judicial powers;
  • the structure of constitutional democracy;
  • the freedoms of speech, press, and academic research; and
  • the right of privacy, including the privacy of personal data in a digital world.

Together, Sullivan and Shaffer will carry on the law school’s tradition of constitutional law scholarship and debate through a combination of academic conferences, public lectures, policy research projects, and pro bono litigation efforts. Stanford law students will participate in the work of the Center through a clinical workshop taught by Sullivan and Shaffer.

"Stanford's excellence in constitutional law dates back half a century and is based on the groundbreaking work of such Stanford Law professors as Gerald Gunther, William Cohen, Thomas Grey, John Hart Ely, and Paul Brest, all of whom have helped to shape public academic debate on leading constitutional issues from executive power to federalism to individual rights," said Larry Kramer, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean.

"With the nation facing new challenges in maintaining its age-old civil liberties and checks and balances in the face of terrorism and technological change, there could hardly be a better time to launch the Constitutional Law Center," said Sullivan. "I am delighted that my former student Derek Shaffer, a rising legal superstar, is returning to the school to help lead this exciting new endeavor."

"This is a unique and thrilling opportunity to press for the right answers to critical constitutional questions and to help students at the law school translate theory into practice," said Shaffer. "To launch this endeavor at Stanford and with Kathleen Sullivan as my colleague is really a dream come true."

Inaugural Public Lecture by Cass Sunstein on Presidential War Powers September 18

In commemoration of Constitution Day, on September 18 the Center will host its first event, a public lecture by renowned constitutional law scholar and University of Chicago Law School Professor Cass R. Sunstein. One of the nation's leading legal theorists, Sunstein will speak at Stanford Law School about issues surrounding the president's war powers, including his right to detain suspects and engage in wiretapping when national security is threatened. For event information.

Derek Shaffer to join Stanford Constitutional Law Center

Derek Shaffer graduated first in his class as a Nathan Abbott Scholar from Stanford Law School in May of 2000. For the past five years, he has specialized in complex litigation matters, particularly those involving governmental bodies and unsettled constitutional and statutory questions, while working at Cooper & Kirk, an elite litigation boutique headquartered in Washington, D.C. In 2006, Shaffer obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture an unprecedented payment of full attorney’s fees claimed under the Equal Access to Justice Act after vindicating an elephant handler over the course of protracted, hotly contested administrative proceedings. In 2005, he played a central role on trial teams successfully representing the State of Tennessee in federal district court and then the Sixth Circuit in disputes over proposed Medicaid reforms as they related to governing judicial decrees. Prior to law school, Shaffer graduated first in his class of 1996 from the College of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University; he also achieved preeminence as one of the nation's top debaters.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School is one of the nation's leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, and write books and articles for academic audiences, as well as the popular press. Along with offering traditional law school classes, the school has embraced new subjects and new ways of teaching.