Expert Witness in Ten Commandments Lawsuit to Speak at UB

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: February 10, 2005

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University of Tulsa law professor Paul Finkelman, the chief expert witness in the lawsuit that forced the removal of a 5,500-pound Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building, will discuss observations about that case and similar ones during a lecture at the University at Buffalo Law School, to be held from 12:30-2 p.m. Feb. 18 in 104 O'Brian Hall on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.

The lecture, part of the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy Visiting Scholars series, will be free and open to UB faculty and students.

Alfred "Fred" Konefsky, UB Distinguished Professor in the Law School, calls Finkelman "a prolific scholar of American constitutional and legal history, with a particular expertise in the area of slavery and race." Finkelman also teaches constitutional law, with a particular interest in all dimensions of the First Amendment, and has written in the field of religion and law, recently editing an encyclopedia on religion and American law, Konefsky says.

In 2003, he was an expert witness in federal district court in Alabama in Glassroth v. Moore, which challenged Chief Justice Roy Moore's decision, as chief justice of Alabama, to place a granite monument of the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court building.

"His (Finkelman's) talk, and the Fordham Law Review article based on the talk, grow out of his experience and testimony in the Alabama case," Konefsky said. "The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on March 2 -- just two weeks after his UB lecture -- in two cases from Texas and Kentucky concerned with displays of the Ten Commandments on public property or grounds."

Finkelman's Fordham Law Review article has been cited in briefs before the Supreme Court in those two cases.

During his UB talk, entitled "The Ten Commandments on the Courthouse Lawn and Elsewhere," he will speak on the problem of Ten Commandments monuments in public spaces, focusing on the claims

of supporters of these monuments that the Ten Commandments is the moral foundation of American law and that such monuments are historically significant and religiously neutral.

Chapman Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tulsa College of Law, Finkelman previously was the John F. Seiberling Professor of Law at the University of Akron Law School. He also has taught at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Hamline Law School, the University of Miami, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Brooklyn Law School and the University of Texas-Austin.

Finkelman is the author or editor of numerous articles and books, including "A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States," "Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson," "Baseball and the American Legal Mind" and "American Legal History: Cases and Materials."

He was a Fellow in Law and the Humanities at Harvard Law School and received his doctoral and master's degrees from the University of Chicago.

For further information, contact the Baldy Center at 645-2102.