The Scholarship of Robert J. Lipkin Honored at Luncheon Event
Web Editor - Published: December 3, 2010
On Wednesday, December 1st, members of the faculty and the Widener Law Review held a special luncheon celebrating the scholarship of former Widener Law Distinguished Professor Robert J. Lipkin, who passed away on February 18th, 2010. The event included the presentation of a special edition Widener Law Review dedicated to Professor Lipkin’s writings.

Widener Law Review Editor-in-Chief Nathan Trexler opened the event be welcoming those in attendance on behalf of the Widener Law Review, before introducing Widener Law Dean Linda L. Ammons, who called Professor Lipkin “a man of big ideas,” and described the special edition of the Widener Law Review “a labor of love,” for those who worked on it, including Professors Erin Daly, Jim May, and Robert Hayman, as well as the staff of the Widener Law Review. Professors Daly, May, and Hayman also wrote the introduction to the issue.

Following the Dean’s remarks, Professor May – who served with Professor Lipkin as co-advisor to the Widener Law Review for five years – and Nathan Trexler presented Professor Lipkin’s wife, Carolyn Dunphy, and his daughter, Sarah Lipkin, with a special copy of the Widener Law Review issue.

Following the presentation, Associate Dean for Faculty Research & Development Erin Daly spoke about Professor Lipkin’s scholarship and the origin of the Widener Law Review issue dedicated to his work, saying, “Jim May intuitively understood that one of the greatest things Bobby had given us was his scholarship.” She fondly recalled Professor Lipkin as someone who was always debating “not because he thought he was right, but because he was sure that the question was worth asking.”

Professor Hayman spoke next on Professor Lipkin’s “Revolutionary Pragmatism,” describing Professor Lipkin as “the fabricator of a new universe” within his own writings. “Bobby’s rebellion is rebellion for a cause,” said Hayman. He also described the obvious joy in Professor Lipkin’s writing, but added, “The joy is matched by an earnestness. The stakes are high.”

Professor May followed, speaking on Professor Lipkin’s “Constitutional Theory.” “He was unafraid of toppling accepted conventions,” said Professor May, adding that Professor Lipkin believed that the various Constitutional theories obscured real discussion. Professor May also showed a video and played an audio clip of Professor Lipkin speaking about the Supreme Court and his view that the politically unaccountable court should not have the final say on constitutional matters, but rather that the legislature – directly accountable to the electorate – should have that final word.

Following Professor May’s remarks, the audience saw video tributes from Jim Chen, the Dean of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, and Harvard Professor Mark Tushnet. The event closed with a video of Professor Lipkin himself speaking at a 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Event.

The video tributes by Jim Chen and Mark Tushnet can be viewed at Professor Lipkin's blog, Essentially Contested America, as can the remarks of speakers Erin Daly and Jim May.

Those interested in a copy of the Widener Law Review issue dedicated to Professor Lipkin's work should contact Debbe Patrick at dapatrick@widener.edu.