The University of Pennsylvania Law School is launching a visiting jurist program next week and has snagged an impressive inaugural participant: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Kennedy will spend three days on the Philadelphia campus, meeting with students and alumni and participating in a question-and-answer session with 300 2Ls and 3Ls. He will teach a constitutional law class for first-year students.
“We are honored to welcome Justice Kennedy to the law school,” dean Michael Fitts said. “It’s crucial for law schools today to build strong bridges between the academy and the profession, including the judiciary. Justice Kennedy’s visit inaugurates a program that will provide our students with first-hand knowledge of how great judges go about the task of elaborating the law.”
Penn plans to bring in one or two federal judges per semester and tentatively has scheduled Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit as its next visitor in February. Each judge may teach a class of his or her choosing.
“The visiting jurist program puts a human face on the doctrine students learn in the classroom,” said professor Christopher Yoo, who is organizing the program. “That’s something that normally happens during a clerkship, which is a formative experience in the lives of many young lawyers. We encourage all of our students to seek judicial clerkships, and we expect that these visits will provide them with a preview of the close mentoring relationships that frequently develop between judges and their clerks.”
Although Kennedy is not a Penn alumus—he graduated from Harvard Law School—he has ties to the Penn faculty. Yoo, Penn Supreme Court Clinic director Stephanos Bibas and Professor Leo Katz all clerked for Kennedy.
The classroom won’t be foreign to Kennedy—he taught constitutional law for more than two decades as an adjunct at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in his hometown, Sacramento, Calif.