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Monday, January 27, 2014

RIP Randy Bezanson

Brian Leiter's Law School Reports brings news of the passing of Randall Bezanson, a longtime professor at the University of Iowa College of Law; I'm writing this in transit and don't have the link, but Brian's item provides a link to the statement from the dean at Iowa. I just wanted to add a quick word of tribute. My first, temporary job was as a visitor teaching constitutional law at Iowa. It was a great experience for many reasons, but Randy's presence was high among them. As a colleague he was very helpful in giving me tips and materials for my first time teaching the class. As a colleague he was generous in his time reading a draft paper on our mutual love, the First Amendment, and more than happy to recommend major surgery on the piece. And, as the Dean's message notes, he was always a fun, provocative presence at the lunch table, ready to start things off with a topic or question of the day. I still draw heavily on his writings, especially those on freedom of the press; my latest piece cites him repeatedly and I very much enjoyed his recent print debate with Eugene Volokh on freedom of the press. He was and is an influence, and a friend. He suffered through a long and difficult illness, and doubtless things looked different from close up; but from far away, it seemed as if he managed to do so with his vitality much undimmed. I will miss him.

Posted by Paul Horwitz on January 27, 2014 at 10:08 AM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink

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Wasn't he the guy who allegedly blacklisted the plaintiff in the academic freedom lawsuit against UIowa Law? I'm pretty sure he was.

Posted by: AndyK | Jan 27, 2014 11:31:54 AM

Lovely tribute, Paul.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Jan 27, 2014 12:21:02 PM

Andy, you are correct. That is, you are correct that he was prominently mentioned in that story; I was long gone by then, and cannot speak to the specifics. I did not mention it not so much out of delicacy, but because I wasn't there and it wasn't relevant to my interactions with him.

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Jan 27, 2014 12:32:20 PM

I'll echo what Paul wrote. Randy became my primary mentor when I started teaching at Iowa (around the same time that Paul was visiting), and it would be hard to imagine a better influence. Always generous with his time and support, collegial, and provocative (in a good way)....

He was indeed prominently mentioned in the Teresa Wagner lawsuit, but that was because the plaintiff tried to tie in his having clerked for Justice Blackmun during the Roe v. Wade calendar to her having been allegedly discriminated against due to her politics. Certainly nothing during the actual vote on her candidacy supported the claim that Randy "blacklisted" her.

Posted by: Tung Yin | Jan 27, 2014 4:32:09 PM

Randy was the "respondent" at the very first talk I gave as a brand new law-prof. It was to the Federalist Society and it was on school choice and the First Amendment (before Zelman and Mitchell). I was crazy-scared, and probably did really badly. That I knew Prof. Bezanson by reputation added to the nervousness. He was, though, entirely gracious and generous, and I have always been grateful to him for how supportive he was, notwithstanding his disagreement with me. I soon came to know that he could not have been anything *but* this way. R.I.P.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Jan 28, 2014 1:29:38 PM

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