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In this lecture, the author describes how she first met Professor William Van Alstyne at a Federalist Society debate at Wayne State Law School in Detroit. Their colleague, the late Professor Joe Grano, had invited them to discuss whether one can sue a sitting president. Of course, this debate was not merely academic. Paula Jones had begun her sexual harassment suit against President Clinton and the suit was on its way to the Supreme Court. They got together before the debate and walked around the campus. The author thought that the president could not be sued while in office. Although she did not know at that point that the Supreme Court would unanimously reject her position, she did know that Professor Van Alstyne disagreed with her and that he was a formidable debater. The author knew that the audience members—Federalists all—were predisposed toward his side. But he was very gracious and reassuring. Even during the debate, he was constructive and supportive—not the combatant whom she had feared. He won, of course. But she felt comfortable and unembarrassed. The author felt that disagreeing with Professor Van Alstyne was most agreeable—even though she lost.

Publication Citation

54 Duke L.J. 1661-1664 (2005)