Constitutional Law Center
About the Constitutional Law Center
The Drake Constitutional Law Center is one of only four constitutional law programs established by the U.S. Congress and funded by the federal government. The Center's mission is to foster study of the U.S. Constitution, its roots, its formation, its principles and development.
An integral part of the Center's activities is the Dwight D. Opperman Lecture series, an annual event of national importance in constitutional law. Mr. Opperman, former chairman of the West Publishing Company and a Drake Law School alumnus, endowed the lecture series in 1988 to bring the country's top jurists and legal scholars to Drake.
Eleven U.S. Supreme Court Justices have delivered the Opperman Lecture: Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Justice Lewis F. Powell, Justice Harry A. Blackmun and Justice Samuel A. Alito.
Drake law students have special access to the constitutional law scholars, judges and political leaders who come to Drake to participate in the Center's activities. In addition to lectures, many distinguished guests also hold symposiums, informal gatherings and small group discussions limited to law students and faculty.
In 1999, 2002 and 2006, for example, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas taught special week-long classes for Drake students. In the 2003-2004 academic year, week long classes were taught by Prof. Akhil Amar (Yale), Prof. Mari Matsuda (Georgetown), Prof. Suzanna Sherry (Vanderbilt), and Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.). Distinguished scholars who have participated in symposiums at Drake include Judge Michael McConnell (10th Circuit), Prof. Erwin Chemerinsky (USC), Prof. Michael Gerhardt (William & Mary), Prof. Nadine Strossen (NY Law School & President, ACLU) and Prof. Gerald Torres (Texas).