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Death, Time, and the Constitution

The passage of time affects nearly all things, including application of the law. In this issue, Professors Fred Smith Jr. and Matthew Lawrence write about how time affects the Constitution—one article concerns a man’s lifespan, and the other discusses how long Congress should control spending.

In “The Constitution After Death,” Smith begins with a case from 1975, a police shooting that led to a conspiracy trial the Washington Post labeled “Alabama’s Watergate.” Smith’s article, recently published in the Columbia Law Review, makes a powerful argument that a person’s constitutional rights should not end at death.

Lawrence’s article, “Congress' Domain: Appropriations, Time, and Chevron,” set for publication in the Duke Law Journal next year, also deals with the Constitution, specifically Article 1, Section 8. It addresses important questions concerning annual and permanent appropriations that arose from Michigan v. EPA.

Lawrence is the most recent addition to the Emory Law faculty; he arrived this summer after serving in Congress as a special legal advisor to the US House of Representatives Budget Committee (majority). He also worked on health care regulatory issues during both the Obama and Trump Administrations as a trial attorney in the Department of Justice’s Federal Programs Branch, and finally as attorney advisor in the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of General Counsel in the Executive Office of the President. In 2016, he received a special commendation award for his defense of Affordable Care Act programs while he was a DOJ trial attorney. His Capitol Hill experience, combined with informed writing on health care finance, administrative law, and addiction, makes him not only a great teacher, but also a perceptive scholar examining problems that have plagued us for years.

Smith joined our faculty in 2017. In addition to teaching constitutional law and frequent service as an expert source for media, he’s been part of some of the law school’s most prestigious recent events. In 2017, he interviewed the late US Rep. John Lewis as part of the law school’s 100th-anniversary celebration held at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (then recently opened on the National Mall in Washington, DC). It was a special night because Rep. Lewis sponsored the legislation that funded the museum. It was also revealed that night that funding for Emory Law’s new John Lewis Chair in Civil Rights and Social Justice was complete. Smith now leads the search to fill the chair by the 2021-2022 academic year.

Another high-profile conversation was with US Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, for whom he clerked during the 2013-2014 term. Their ebullient Q & A in an auditorium packed with awed law students was exceptionally well-received.

We hope you enjoy the excerpts presented here, which reflect the caliber of scholarly work Emory Law supports.