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Richard J. Childress Memorial Lecture

The Richard J. Childress Memorial 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 Saint Louis University School of Law.

Dean Childress was a member of the faculty at the SLU School of Law for almost 30 years and then served for 15 years as associate dean and dean. Among other achievements, Dean Childress is credited with founding the Saint Louis University Law Journal.

Every year, the Journal sponsors the lecture and publishes the keynote address on a timely legal topic as well as responses from the lecture’s scholarly participants.

Established by the generosity of alumni and friends of the former dean, the lecture aims to enhance the exemplary teaching at the School of Law by bringing world-renowned scholars to campus for academic enrichment.

2023: Progressive Constitutionalism and its Libertarian Discontents: The Case of LGBTQ Rights Friday, October 27, 2023 Keynote Speaker: Professor Carlos Ball2023: Progressive Constitutionalism and its Libertarian Discontents: The Case of LGBTQ Rights

Friday, October 27, 2023 // 8 a.m. - 3:05 p.m.

Keynote Speaker: Professor Carlos Ball

Distinguished Professor of Law and Judge Frederick Lacey Scholar, Rutgers Law School

5.4 MO CLE Credits Available

This year’s Childress Lecture, led by Professor Carlos Ball, will explore the ways in which libertarian political morality and constitutionalism create a double-edged sword for progressives. On the one hand, libertarian principles have helped advance some progressive objectives inside and outside of the courts, including several related to LGBTQ rights. On the other hand, abiding by those principles as a matter of constitutional law has served to jeopardize a slew of broader progressive objectives. The program will also explore LGBTQ+ rights and constitutional theory, the connection between LGBTQ+ rights and the First Amendment, and transgender rights.

8:00-9:00 Check-in

9:00-9:15  Opening Remarks

9:15-10:15  Childress Lecture

10:15-10:25 Break

10:25-11:25 Response Panel 1: LGBTQ+ Rights and Constitutional Theory (Craig Konnoth, Linda McClain, Tobias Barrington Wolff)

11:25-11:35 Break

11:35-12:45 Response Panel 2: The First Amendment: Friend or Foe of LGBTQ Rights? ( Luke Boso, Jeremiah Ho, Anthony Michael Kreis, Elizabeth Sepper)

12:45-1:45 Break

1:45-2:55  Response Panel 3: Transgender Rights (Kelly Gillespie, Susan Hazeldean, Kyle Velte, Vanessa Wellbery)

2:55-3:05  Closing Remarks

Featured Panelists:

Luke Boso
Southwestern Law School

Kelly Gillespie
Saint Louis University School of Law, Center for Health Law Studies

Susan Hazeldean
Professor, Associate Dean of Experiential Education
Brooklyn Law School

Jeremiah Ho
Associate Professor
Saint Louis University School of Law

Craig Konnoth
Martha Lubin Karsh and Bruce A. Karsh Bicentennial Professor of Law
University of Virginia School of Law

Anthony Michael Kreis
Assistant Professor of Law
Georgia State University College of Law

Linda C. McClain
Robert Kent Professor of Law
Co-Director, BU Law Program in Reproductive Justice
Boston University School of Law

Elizabeth W. Sepper
The University of Texas at Austin School of Law

Kyle Velte
Professor, Karelitz Chair in Evidence Law, Associate Dean
University of Kansas School of Law

Tobias Barrington Wolff
Jefferson B. Fordham Professor of Law; Deputy Dean for Equity & Inclusion
University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law


2022:  The Business of the Supreme Court: The Evolution and Devolution of the Supreme Court's Docket

childress lecture 2022 image and description

On October 28, 2022, the annual Childress Lecture was delivered by University of Texas School of Law Professor Stephen Vladeck, who provided both a historical introduction to and a modern reassessment of the shape and size of the Supreme Court’s docket — and argued that both academic and public discourse about the work of the Court has increasingly failed to account for holistic shifts in the kinds of cases that the justices are (and aren’t) choosing to decide. A proper accounting of the ‘Business of the Supreme Court,’ Professor Vladeck argued, helps to show just how significantly the court’s role in our legal system has changed in recent years — without almost anyone noticing.

Keynote:  Stephen Vladeck, Charles Alan Wright Chair In Federal Courts, The University of Texas at Austin School of Law.
Link to video

Panel 1: Intricacies of the Court  
Morgan Hazelton, Associate Professor; Political Science, Saint Louis University
Ben Johnson, Associate Professor of Law, The Pennsylvania State University Law School
Tejas Narechania, Robert and Nanci Corson Assistant Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
Link to video

Panel 2: Interrelationships of the Court 
Josh Chafetz, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
Daniel Epps, Treiman Professor of Law, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law
Jennifer Mascott, Assistant Professor of Law; Co-Executive Director, The C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State, George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School
Link to video

Panel 3: Covering the Court
Ariane de Vogue, Supreme Court Reporter, CNN
Amy Howe, Reporter, ScotusBlog
Kate Shaw, Professor of Law, Yeshiva University, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; ABC News Legal Analyst; Co-Host of Supreme Court and legal-themed podcast "Strict Scrutiny"
Link to video

2021: Critical Race Theory and the Law

On October 8, 2021, the Childress Lecture, in cooperation with the Saint Louis University Department of African American Studies, examined critical race theory to critically examine American law as it intersects with issues of race and other social constructs in the United States.

View the Lecture Here

Keynote Speaker:

  • Angela Onwuachi-Willig, dean and Ryan Roth Gallo & Ernest J. Gallo Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law

Panelists Included:

  • David Niven, Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati
  • Danielle M. Conway, Dean and Donald J. Farage Professor of Law, Penn State Dickinson Law
  • Ngozi Okidegbe, Assistant Professor of Law, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
  • Mario L. Barnes, Toni Rembe Dean, University of Washington School of Law
  • Christopher Tinson, Associate Professor; Chair, African American Studies, Saint Louis University
  • Anthony Farley, James Campbell Matthews Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, Albany Law School
2020: Tradeoffs: Technology, Privacy, and the Law

On Oct. 2, 2020, the Law Journal hosted a "virtual" Childress Lecture via Zoom.

The use of technology always involves tradeoffs: we sacrifice some of our privacy or liberty to gain convenience or security. Some people are happy to make these tradeoffs; some balk at them; and others yield to them as inevitable. But whatever our attitude, we should be aware of those tradeoffs as well as the law’s ability — or inability — to mitigate the most dangerous aspects of technology. This year’s Childress Symposium focused on several modern dilemmas at the intersection of technology, privacy and the law.

Panels included “The Fourth Amendment, Privacy, and Technology,” “The Promise and Perils of Using Technology in Fighting Against COVID-19,” and “Lawyering in an Interconnected World.”

Orin Kerr, professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, gave the keynote lecture, "Email Preservation and the Fourth Amendment."

Panelists included:

  • Sarah Brayne, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Bennett Capers, Professor of Law and Director of Center on Race, Law & Justice at Fordham University, School of Law
  • Raff Donelson, Assistant Professor of Law at Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law
  • Margaret Hu, Professor of Law and International Affairs at Penn State Law
  • Carmel Shachar, Executive Director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School
  • Stacey Tovino, Professor of Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law
  • Nicol Turner Lee, Director of the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings Institution, Governance Studies
  • Ted Claypoole, Partner at Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP, leads IP Transactions and FinTech Teams and co-chairs the firm’s Privacy and Cybersecurity Team
  • Margot Kaminski, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School
  • Neil Richards, Koch Distinguished Professor in Law at Washington University in St. Louis, School of Law

View the recording
Passcode: Nh=f@6zH

2019: American Election Law in a Post-Truth World

On October 11, 2019 the Childress Lecture explored the rapid technological change and the rise of social media that have upended the traditional media’s business model and radically changed how people communicate, educate, and persuade. The decline of the traditional media as information intermediaries has transformed and coarsened social and political communication, making it easier for misinformation and vitriol to spread. The result? Political campaigns that increasingly take place under conditions of voter mistrust and groupthink, with the potential for foreign interference and domestic political manipulation via new and increasingly sophisticated technological tools. Such dramatic changes raise deep questions about the conditions of electoral legitimacy and threaten to shake the foundation of democratic governance.

This conference considered how this challenging information environment will affect election law in areas such as campaigns, campaign finance, and voting rights, and what election law might be able to do about it.

The keynote speaker was Richard L. Hasen, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine.

View Professor Hasen's keynote address

Panelists Included:

  • Guy-Uriel Charles, Edward and Ellen Schwarzman Professor of Law, Duke Law
  • Yasmin Dawood, Canada Research Chair in Democracy, Constitutionalism, and Electoral Law, and Associate Professor of Law and Political Science, University of Toronto
  • Justin Levitt, Associate Dean for Research; Professor of Law; Gerald T. McLaughlin Fellow, Loyola Marymount University Law School, Los Angeles
  • Denise Lieberman, Senior Attorney and Program Director, Power and Democracy, Advancement Project
  • Derek Muller, Associate Professor of Law, Pepperdine University School of Law
  • Jessie Steffan, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Missouri
  • Daniel Tokaji, Associate Dean for Faculty and The Charles W. Ebersold and Florence Whitcomb Ebersold Professor of Constitutional Law, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
  • Franita Tolson, Professor of Law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law
  • Kenneth Warren, Professor of Political Science, Saint Louis University

View the Panel Video

2018: Exploring #STL2039: Policies for a Better Future

On October 5, 2018, the Childress Lecture explored Forward Through Ferguson's #STL2039 Action Plan, which imagines a future St. Louis where race no longer predicts life outcomes. A series of panels explored criminology and crime control; education reform; and race, health, and social justice.

Tracey L. Meares was the keynote speaker. Meares is the Walter Hale Hamilton Professor of Law and founding member of the Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School. Her address was titled "Synthesizing Narratives of Policing."

Panelists included:

  • Adam Boessen, Assistant Professor, Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, University of Missouri - St. Louis
  • Rebecca Hollander-Blumoff, Vice Dean for Research and Faculty Development and Professor of Law, Washington University School of Law
  • Emily Stahly, Analyst, The Show-Me Institute
  • Phillip Boyd, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resource Services, Ferguson-Florissant School District; Forward Through Ferguson board member
  • Susan Pendergrass, Director of Research and Education Policy, The Show-Me Institute
  • Anders Walker, Associate Dean for Research and Engagement and Lillie Myers Professor of Law, Saint Louis University School of Law
  • Karen Bradshaw, Community Referral Coordinator Program Director, St. Louis Integrated Health Network
  • David Dwight, Senior Strategy and Partnerships Catalyst, Forward Through Ferguson
  • Keon L. Gilbert, Associate Professor, Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education, Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice
  • Dr. Denise Hooks-Anderson, Associate Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Saint Louis University School of Medicine
  • Stephanie McClure, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama
  • Sidney D. Watson, Jane and Bruce Robert Professor of Law, Saint Louis University School of Law Center for Health Law Studies
  • Ruqaiijah Yearby, professor of law, Saint Louis University School of Law Center for Health Law Studies; director, University Social Justice Institute
2017: Human Rights in the American Criminal Justice System

On October 13, 2017, the Childress Memorial Lecture examined the role, rhetoric and practices of the United States’ criminal justice system using international human rights norms as perspective. Panelists discussed how the modern criminal justice system in the U.S. – whether it is pretrial detention, treatment of gender violence or juvenile populations, or the continued use of the death penalty – conforms to or violate international human rights standards, and what can be done to change that.

The keynote speaker was Samuel R. Gross, Thomas and Mabel Long Professor of Law at The University of Michigan Law School, whose address was titled "The Death Penalty, Public Opinion, and Politics in the United States."

Panelists included:

  • Wade H. McMullen, Managing Attorney, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
  • Mae C. Quinn, Director, Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center
  • Jamila Jefferson-Jones, Associate Professor of Law, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  • Gregory J. Kuykendall, Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program
  • Jennifer Merrigan and Joseph Perkovich, Attorneys, Phillips Black
  • John Bessler, Associate Professor of Law, University of Baltimore School of Law
  • Maya Foa, Director, Reprieve
  • Lauren E. Bartlett, Director of Legal Clinics and Assistant Professor of Law, Ohio Northern University Pettit School of Law
  • Margaret B. Drew, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts School of Law
  • Martha F. Davis, Associate Dean for Experiential Education and Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law
  • Juliana C. Repp, Attorney, Northwest Native American Law, PLLC

View the Journal Issue for This Lecture (PDF).

2016: Indigence and the Criminal Justice System

On October 6-7, 2016, the Childress Memorial Lecture addressed the continuing inequality in the criminal courts. While Americans are increasingly aware of issues involving law enforcement agencies and communities of color, less attention has been paid to the courts to which those arrested are sent after being taken into custody.

In that system, numerous discretionary decisions are made by prosecutors, such as whether to file charges; whether a high bail be set so the accused remains in jail; what charges to bring; whether to seek enhanced penalties such as the death penalty, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or a mandatory minimum of years in prison; whether to make a plea offer and what offer to make; what information to disclose to the defense; and whether to strike prospective jurors based on race during jury selection.

Most of the discretionary decisions are made by white men, even though virtually all the people appearing before some criminal courts are people of color. People are often prosecuted in municipal courts whose primary purpose is revenue generation and not law enforcement. In those courts and others, the accused may be denied a lawyer to assist them, or may be given a lawyer who lacks the competence, resources, experience, training and, in some cases, the inclination to provide a zealous and effective defense. In many states, the people in charge of this system – governors, legislators, prosecutors and judges – want it to remain as it is because it gives the prosecution an enormous advantage in obtaining convictions, fines, jail and prison terms, and death sentences.

The keynote speaker was Stephen B. Bright, president and senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights and Harvey Karp Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, whose lecture was titled "The Future of Criminal Justice Reform."

Panelists included:

  • Michael Barrett, director, Missouri State Public Defender System
  • Kim Gardner, candidate for St. Louis Circuit Attorney
  • Thomas B. Harvey, co-founder and executive director of ArchCity Defenders
  • Michael-John Voss, co-founder and director of finance and operations of ArchCity Defenders
  • Blake Strode, Skadden Fellow, staff attorney at ArchCity Defenders
  • Brandon Buskey, senior staff attorney, American Civil Liberties Union - Criminal Law Reform Project
  • Stephen F. Hanlon, general counsel, National Association for Public Defense; professor of practice, Saint Louis University School of Law
  • Norman Lefstein, professor of law and dean emeritus, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law (Indianapolis)
  • Sean O’Brien, professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  • Mark Olive, attorney at law, Tallahassee, Florida
  • Jamala Rogers, author, executive director of the Organization for Black Struggle
  • Cyndy Short, trial attorney and mitigation specialist

View the Journal issue for this lecture.


The Future of Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal Defense Panel

Death Penalty Panel

2015: Religious Freedom, Social Justice and Public Policy

On November 13, 2015, scholars from across the country addressed conflicts following recent legal developments in areas such as same-sex marriage, birth control coverage and mandatory vaccinations, examining the clashing of rights and how they could potentially be resolved.

Lawrence Sager of the University of Texas School of Law was the keynote speaker, whose lecture was titled "The Imminent Clash Between Religious Freedom and Public Accommodation Law."

Panelists included:

  • Nelson Tebbe, Brooklyn Law School
  • Christopher Lund, Wayne State University Law School
  • Matt Bodie, Saint Louis University School of Law
  • Elizabeth Sepper, Washington University School of Law
  • Jeff A. Redding, Saint Louis University School of Law
  • Jessie Hill, Case Western Reserve University School of Law

View the Journal issue for this lecture.



First Panel

Second Panel and Closing Remarks

2014: Federalism & Nationalism: Who Counts?

On October 25, 2014, the Childress Memorial Lecture addressed the "long and not-so-merry war" between proponents of federalism and nationalists.

Keynote speaker Professor Heather Gerken argued 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. Gerken questioned whether it’s possible to have a “nationalist school of federalism” and described what each side needs to give up in order for a détente to succeed.

View the Journal issue for this lecture.