This week, we had the honor of welcoming back to Boalt Hall one of our most distinguished alumni, Senior Judge J. Clifford Wallace ’55 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The occasion for his visit was especially celebratory, as he delivered the keynote address for a new lecture series founded in his honor.
Wallace has served on the federal bench for most of his career. He was nominated by President Richard Nixon to a federal district judgeship in the Southern District of California in October of 1970. Two years later he was nominated and confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, later serving as Chief Judge from 1991 to 1996, and rising to senior status in 1996.
In addition to his rulings on the bench, Judge Wallace is known for his focus on international affairs and advancing the rule of law abroad. He has traveled the globe extensively to promote the principles of an independent judiciary, streamlined judicial administration, and the separation of powers in fledging judiciaries ranging from the South Pacific to the Middle East and China.
Judge Wallace’s international work inspired the theme of the inaugural lecture, Religious Minorities: The Importance of Religious Freedom and Strong Judicial Administration. The judge delivered a thought-provoking address arguing that religious intolerance and extremism must be remedied in order to strengthen and reinforce religious freedom and democracy in both Western and Islamic republics.
“Just as our collective viewpoint is enriched by ethnic and racial diversity, so too can diversity in religious cultures contribute to our political and social discourse. It is important to consider diverse perspectives in dealing with new challenges facing our society.
The challenges facing religious freedom will vary among countries and religions based on differences in culture, history, structure of government, and myriad other factors. But its protection is fundamental, in my judgment, in assisting in the development of a democratic society.”
Focusing on the ongoing struggle dealing with minority religious rights in Pakistan, Judge Wallace stressed the importance of an independent judiciary to safeguard the practical right to freedom of religion and belief.
The event also featured a panel of distinguished guests and commentators, including Berkeley Law professor Jesse Choper; Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; Stanford Law Professor Michael McConnell; and University of California President Emeritus Mark Yudof.
Special thanks to professors Jesse Choper and John Yoo for organizing the J. Clifford Wallace Annual Lecture Series, and to Judge Wallace’s former clerks — partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Randall Guynn; University of Virginia School of Law professor George Rutherglen ’74; President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center Ed Whalen; and Dean of J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University James Rasband — for their generous donations to endow the lectureship in his honor.
The series will continue to focus on religion and the rule of law abroad, issues of particular interest to Judge Wallace, and bring together some of the nation’s leading legal scholars.
A version of Judge Wallace’s remarks will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Berkeley Journal of International Law.