Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. spoke at the third annual Tex Lezar Memorial Lecture, hosted by the University of Texas School of Law on Wednesday, March 7, 2007 in Dallas. Roberts spoke to an invited audience about the appropriate role of the courts in society, using the pivotal 1857 case of Dred Scott v. Sandford as an example of the negative consequences of judicial activism.
“At the 2005 Senate confirmation hearings occasioned by his nomination to the position of Chief Justice,” said UT Law School Dean Lawrence Sager in his introduction, “Chief Justice Roberts demonstrated a dazzling mixture of intelligence, subtlety, care, and charm. These are the qualities he brings with him to his new office.”
Roberts, a long-time friend of Lezar’s, began his remarks by expressing his delight that his first visit to Texas as Chief Justice was to deliver the Tex Lezar Lecture. The series honors the life and work of Harold J. “Tex” Lezar, who died in 2004. Lezar was born in Dallas and was a 1976 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. Always interested in public policy and politics, Lezar worked as a speechwriter in the Nixon Administration before attending law school and, after earning his law degree, went on to serve as Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy and Chief of Staff to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith in the Reagan Administration.
The Tex Lezar Memorial Lecture series was conceived and is underwritten by the many friends of Tex Lezar. According to its mission statement, the annual lecture is to be given by a “person learned in affairs of government whose work carries forward the ideals of constitutional government and a free society.” Theodore B. Olson, Solicitor General of the United States from 2001–2004, was the inaugural lecturer. Kenneth W. Starr, former Solicitor General of the United States, former judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and current dean of Pepperdine University’s School of Law, gave the second lecture in the series.
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