The annual John Paul Stevens Lecture brings a distinguished jurist to Colorado Law to discuss judging and the state of the judiciary. United States Associate Justice John Paul Stevens delivered the inaugural lecture in September 2011. Since then, the lecture has been given by former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa Zak Yacoob (2020); U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (2019); Judge Carlos F. Lucero, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (2018); former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, New York Court of Appeals (2017); Justice Sonia Sotomayor (2016); Justice Antonin Scalia (2014); Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (2013), and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2012). The signature fireside chat format of the lecture presents an opportunity for law students, lawyers, and community members to hear about the jurists’ approach to the bench, career, legal philosophy, and law school advice. The lecture often attracts over 2,000 people to CU Boulder’s Macky Auditorium, and is streamed for a national audience.
2020 Stevens Lecture with former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa Zak Yacoob
Date: Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020
Time: Noon-1:30 p.m. MDT
About the Speaker
Zak Yacoob, a former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from 1998 until 2013 and former anti-apartheid activist, delivered the ninth annual John Paul Stevens Lecture virtually at 12:00 p.m. MT on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Justice Yacoob is the first international justice to present the Stevens Lecture, which is free and open to the public. Justice Yacoob shared his thoughts on the role of the courts, social justice, and racial equality. His remarks and virtual fireside chat with Professor and Director of the White Center Professor Suzette Malveaux were followed by a Q&A with Colorado Law students.
Justice Yacoob, who has been blind from infancy, studied at the Arthur Blaxall School for the Blind in Durban, South Africa. He completed a law degree at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. While at the university and during his law practice, Justice Yacoob was a member of the African National Congress underground; participated in community organizations involved in anti-apartheid and community activities, including the United Democratic Front and the Detainees Parents’ Support Group; and engaged in activities aimed at protecting the rights of people with disabilities.
From 1973 until 1991, Justice Yacoob ran a significant and diverse commercial and general legal practice, while also engaging in community activities that included defending political prisoners charged for defying unjust apartheid laws, and challenging, on behalf of victims, detentions without trial, house arrest, and other restrictive decrees. He took silk in 1991, an honor in South Africa conferred by the president to advocates for exceptional skill, integrity, and leadership, and practiced as senior counsel until his appointment by Nelson Mandela to the Constitutional Court of South Africa in 1998.
Yacoob is well-known nationally and internationally for his contributions to the socioeconomic rights and jurisprudence of South Africa.
Previous Stevens Lecture Speakers
Justice Kagan answered questions in a fireside chat format moderated by Provost Professor of Law and Director of the White Center Suzette Malveaux, followed by a question and answer session with questions from Colorado Law students.
Watch the recording:
On Sept. 27, 2018, the Hon. Carlos F. Lucero, Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, delivered the seventh annual John Paul Stevens Lecture. Lucero’s talk, "A Constitutional Call to Arms and Reflections on a Judicial Career,” focused on contemporary challenges to the Constitution and the role of lawyers in supporting and defending the Constitution.
The lecture included a Q&A discussion with Suzette Malveaux, Provost Professor of Civil Rights Law and director of the White Center. Lucero also responded to questions from student leaders Leah Fugere (’20), president of the Christian Legal Society; Nicholas Monck (’19), president of the Student Bar Association; and Hannah Regan-Smith (‘19), editor-in-chief of the University of Colorado Law Review.
Watch the recording:
The 2017 John Paul Stevens Lecture took place September 26 at the Carr Judicial Center in Denver. Former Chief Judge of the State of New York Jonathan Lippman spoke on “Changing the Dialogue on Access to Justice.”
On September 2, 2016, Justice Sonia Sotomayor visited Boulder and participated in a Q&A conversation with more than 1,500 participants for the fifth annual Stevens Lecture. The audience included students, faculty and community members from the metro area. Additionally, high school students traveled to Boulder from all over Colorado to meet with Justice Sotomayor and attend the event.
The fourth annual Stevens Lecture was given by Senior Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on October 1, 2014, and discussed constitutional interpretation. More than 1,500 people attended the live lecture at Macky Auditorium, and nearly 400 people watched the live stream of the lecture at University of Wyoming Law School, William & Mary Law School, Colorado College, Fort Lewis College, Western State Colorado University, Ridgway High School, and inside the Wittemyer Courtroom at the University of Colorado Law School.
Former Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor delivered the third annual Stevens Lecture on September 17, 2013. Nearly 1,000 people watched live, with additional satellite audiences in the Wolf Law building and colleges throughout Colorado.
The second annual Stevens Lecture was given by Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 19, 2012. Nearly 1,000 people watched the lecture live, while satellite audiences enjoyed the lecture from Wolf Law, Colorado College, Fort Lewis College, and Colorado Mesa University.