Ginsburg Visit Honors Late UF Law Grad Chesterfield Smith
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, along with a host of other dignitaries, will be on the law school campus Thursday and Friday as the Levin College of Law celebrates the dedication of the Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom.
A 1948 graduate of the UF law school, Chesterfield Smith was founder and chairman emeritus of the national law firm Holland & Knight and president of the American Bar Association in 1973. The classroom was funded through a leadership gift from the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation Inc. Smith Justice Ginsburg — along with UF President Bernie Machen, Levin College of Law Dean Robert Jerry, and dignitaries from Holland & Knight — will address lawyers from Holland & Knight, UF alumni, faculty and staff at the dedication Thursday at 11 a.m. Video of the private, invitation-only event will be streamed live over the Inter- net, and available through a link on the UF Law home page, www.law.ufl.edu.
Chesterfield S Hundreds of law students will have the chance to see Justice Ginsburg in person on Friday when she delivers a 9 a.m. lecture in the Marcia Schott Courtyard. Tickets were handed out last week and are required for admission to this event. This is a closed classroom event, and rules and policies for classroom conduct will apply.
Faculty and staff are encouraged to arrive at the law school before 8:30 a.m. to alleviate crowding. Everyone is asked to leave backpacks or umbrellas at home or in their cars. This will reduce the time needed for searches. Gates will open Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. Students with balcony seat tickets must enter through security gates via the south entrance. All others may enter there or via the west entrance. The east entrance will be closed. Everyone must have a cur- rent Gator1 ID card for admission to the law school campus Thursday and Friday. Morning classes will be canceled on Friday, and the library will be closed until noon.
The founder of Holland & Knight in 1968, Chesterfield Smith (1917-2003) was one of the country’s most prominent lawyers. Smith’s legendary act came in 1973 when he was president of the American Bar Association. In what was dubbed the Saturday Night Massacre, President Richard Nixon fired the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal, prompting the nation’s attorney general and top assistant to resign.
Almost immediately, Smith spoke out, telling the nation and the president, “No man is above the law.” He went on to lead the ABA’s effort to call for an independent counsel to investigate Nixon. His early voice of leadership altered history by becoming a catalyst in Nixon’s ultimate resignation.
Smith first met Ginsburg in 1978 on an ABA trip to China. They became good friends. In 1993, Smith wrote a key U.S. senator to offer his support for her nomination to the court.
Expressing appreciation for Smith’s gesture, Ginsburg sent him a hand-writ-ten note: “All my life I will try to be the person you described. With so much appreciation, Ruth.”