Richard J. Childress Memorial Lecture

Childress Lecture 2014

Federalism and Nationalism: Time for a Détente?

There has been a long and not-so-merry war between proponents of federalism and nationalists. Professor Gerken argues that now is the time for a détente between the warring sides. Those on both sides of the debate have an outdated idea of what “Our Federalism” looks like today. As a result, many of the debates in the field are beside the point, and it would be better for scholars to direct their considerable energies at different questions than the ones they have traditionally pursued. Professor Gerken questions whether it’s possible to have a “nationalist school of federalism” and describes what each side needs to give up in order for a détente to succeed.


Childress Lecture 2013

Who counts?

Childress Lecture 2012

Statutory Interpretation

Childress Lecture 2011

About the Childress Lecture

The Childress Lecture, named in honor of former Dean Richard J. Childress (1969-1976), is a premier academic event highlighting a provocative and timely area of law. The lecture commemorates the contributions Dean Childress made academically, ethically and socially to benefit the School of Law.

The premier academic event of the season, the Childress Lecture was named for former dean from 1969 to 1976, Richard J. Childress. The lecture commemorates the numerous contributions he made academically, socially and ethically to benefit the School of Law. Childress was a member of the faculty at the School of Law for almost 30 years, and then served for 15 years as associate dean and dean. He is credited with founding the Saint Louis University Law Journal, an eminent scholarly publication, and building the Omer Poos Law Library, which today represents a variety of resources for law students and faculty. During his term, enrollment of women and minorities at the School of Law soared, and interdisciplinary dual degree programs were established with the School of Medicine and the School of Public Health. In addition to his strong commitment to the School of Law, Childress was dedicated to legal service, holding memberships in the American Law Institute and the Missouri Bar Committee on the Bill of Rights. Childress was a highly respected professor who was well-known for his broad and visionary approach to teaching constitutional law.

Childress was widely known as a Constitutional Law scholar. He believed, however, that justice should not only be taught, but also demonstrated. A member of the civil rights movement, he participated in the march to Selma, Alabama, and was instrumental in the movement for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. He demonstrated his commitment to the community by serving as director of the St. Louis Urban League for over 10 years and the St. Louis Conference on Religion and Race. Childress was chairman of the Archdiocesan Commission on Human Rights two separate times. The Richard J. Childress Memorial Lecture was established from the generosity and commitment of alumni and friends of the former dean. Its purpose is to enhance the exemplary teaching at the School of Law by bringing world-renowned scholars to our School for academic enrichment.