Saturday, February 28, 2015
Richard beat me to it, but my friend and colleague Prof. Charles Rice -- a deeply good and generous man -- passed away this week. It's almost as if this Notre Dame Law School legend -- he has probably taught half of our living alumni -- ducked out of the side exit, to avoid making a big scene, overshadowed in the press (though not, I feel confident, among the Heavenly Host) by Fr. Hesburgh's death. (Learn more about his work and life here.)
I first encountered Notre Dame through Charlie. In the 1970s, my father -- then an Alaska lawyer -- attended a seminar at which Charlie presented on defending pro-life protesters. Years later, when I was thinking about law school, Charlie contacted me (I've always assumed at my dad's suggestion) and was (as always) generous and helpful. Later, when I started thinking about the legal academy, some of the most important people who shaped my decision were Charlie and his son-in-law, Seamus Hasson, founder of the Becket Fund and all-around religious-freedom hero.
Charlie was, of course, a titan in the pro-life movement, both locally and nationally. He was also a teacher beloved by many thousands -- some of whom agreed with his politics, many of whom I am sure did not -- who would always go the extra mile to help a student or graduate in any way. He cared much more about decency and solidarity than about prestige and praise. He welcomed me to Notre Dame and supported and encouraged me when I was getting started. He wrote several books and piles of articles for a range of audiences. Often overlooked, unfortunately, is a really good (and prescient!) book he did more than 50 years ago, The Freedom of Association.He was a boxer and a Marine. He helped build a wonderful family. God bless him.