Governor Lincoln D. Chafee announced recently that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan has accepted his invitation to participate in a Charter Forum, which will highlight the role of Rhode Island’s 1663 Colonial Charter in shaping American jurisprudence. The forum will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 10:30 a.m. at the Chace Auditorium, Trinity Rep, 201 Washington St., Providence. The event is sponsored by Roger Williams University School of Law.
Brown University historian Ted Widmer will join Justice Kagan on stage, serving to engage the Justice in a dialogue about the Charter. Widmer is a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and more recently former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“We celebrate the 350th anniversary of our Colonial Charter in the same year we are enacting equality in marriage,” said Governor Chafee. “Rhode Island should be proud of its place in history as a trailblazer in civil rights, including freedom of religion, and separation of church and state. I am pleased that Justice Kagan will be joining us at the forum highlighting the significance of Rhode Island’s Colonial Charter in American history.”
“Our entire incoming class will be attending as part of its law school orientation, an opportunity likely unmatched at any other law school,” said Roger Williams University School of Law Dean David A. Logan. “Our students have had a chance to interact with eight of the nine members of the current Court, and later this fall RWU Law will be graced by a visit from Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.”
Tickets for Justice Kagan’s forum are free of charge. Reservations are required through Trinity Rep’s box office, either in person or online at www.trinityrep.com using the promotional code “JUSTICE” (no phone orders). Reservations are available starting on Friday, Aug. 9 at noon. Quantities are limited, and only one ticket may be reserved per person.
Supreme Court Justice Kagan’s visit to Providence is part of a yearlong celebration of the Rhode Island Colonial Charter. The Charter of 1663 is now on display on the first floor of the State House in a new mini-museum, which is open to the public free of charge on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Justice Kagan was born in New York, N.Y., on April 28, 1960. She received an Associate Bachelor’s degree from Princeton in 1981, a Master’s of Philosophy from Oxford in 1983, and a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1986. She clerked for Judge Abner Mikva of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1986-1987 and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court during the 1987 Term. After briefly practicing law at a Washington, D.C., law firm, she became a law professor, first at the University of Chicago Law School and later at Harvard Law School. She also served for four years in the Clinton Administration, as associate counsel to the president and then as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy. Between 2003 and 2009, she served as the dean of Harvard Law School. In 2009, President Obama nominated her as the Solicitor General of the United States. After serving in that role for a year, the president nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 10, 2010. She took her seat on Aug. 7, 2010.