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New Law School Dean, Constitutional Law Scholar
to Speak at Mercer’s Constitution Day Event


September 1, 2010

Media Contact:
David Hefner
Director of Communications and Marketing
Walter F. George School of Law
(478) 301-5000

MACON – The new dean of Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law is scheduled to speak during the University’s observance of Constitution Day, a national holiday that commemorates the ratification of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.
Mercer Law School Dean Gary J. Simson, one of the nation’s leading Constitutional Law scholars, will discuss “The Constitution and Religion.” The event will be held at 10 a.m. Sept. 17 in the medical school auditorium at Mercer University. The event is free and open to the public.

“Professor Gary Simson, the new dean of the Walter F. George School of Law, is among the leading constitutional law scholars in the United States,” said Mercer University Provost Wallace Daniel. “I am grateful for the opportunity to hear him on this significant day in our national life.”

Established by federal law in 2004, Constitution Day commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution. The day is also designed to recognize those who have become U.S. citizens.

In his speech, Simson will provide an overview of issues arising under the First Amendment’s Establishment and Free Exercise clauses. Those clauses, which simultaneously limit the government’s authority to support religion and its authority to interfere with individuals’ freedom to practice their religion, have been at the center of much controversy over the years. They have been the focus of litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court on such matters as prayer in public schools, school vouchers, crèches in public squares, and prisoners’ entitlement to exemptions from prison regulations on religious grounds.

Simson has written extensively on the Constitution and religion and is widely recognized as a leading scholar in the area. While a professor at Cornell Law School, he founded the first law school clinic specializing in religious liberty issues, and he and his students litigated cases of national importance.

Simson, who also holds the Macon Chair in Law at Mercer Law School, received his undergraduate degree summa cum laude from Yale College and his law degree from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of The Yale Law Journal. He began his academic career at the University of Texas School of Law and taught for many years at Cornell Law School, where he also served in two associate deanships. In 2006, he was named dean at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He returned to full-time teaching in 2009 and left Case to become dean of Mercer Law School on July 1.
About Mercer Law School
Founded in 1873, the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law is one of the oldest law schools in the United States and the first one in the state of Georgia accredited by the American Bar Association. Mercer Law School’s educational philosophy is based on a broadly shared commitment to prepare students for the high-quality practice of law in a day-to-day learning environment that is both strongly supportive and consistently professional. Its innovative Woodruff Curriculum – which focuses on ethics and practical skills amid small class sizes – earned the Gambrell Professionalism Award from the ABA for its “depth of excellence.” With an enrollment of about 440 students, Mercer Law School is nationally recognized for its exceptional programs in legal writing, moot court, public service, and ethics and professionalism. For more information about Mercer Law School, visit or call (478) 301-5000.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,000 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
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