October 13, 2016

Former SVSU president, constitutional scholar to discuss U.S. Supreme Court, politics at Oct. 19 lecture

“The Empty Ninth Chair: Politics and the Supreme Court” will be the subject of Saginaw Valley State University’s 2016 James E. O’Neill Jr. Lecture.

Eric R. Gilbertson, SVSU’s retired president and current executive-in-residence, will discuss the topic Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. The event is free and open to the public.

Gilbertson will discuss the closely divided court, the conflicting judicial philosophies and political backgrounds of the justices that create the divisions. The presentation will examine key issues that illustrate those divisions such as abortion, campaign financing, same-sex marriage and gun control. Gilbertson also will focus on the backgrounds of the judges, the nomination and confirmation process over time, and the court’s period of transition.

Currently teaching SVSU courses in administrative science and constitutional law, Gilbertson formerly served as legal counsel to the Ohio Board of Regents. He completed a bachelor's degree at Blufton College, a master’s degree in economics at Ohio University and a law degree from Cleveland State University; he also has received honorary degrees from the University of Mysore in India and Ming Chuan University in Taiwan.

The James E. O’Neill Jr. Memorial Lecture Series was established in 2003 to honor the late Saginaw educator, legislator and community servant. Co-sponsored by SVSU and the Field Neurosciences Institute of Saginaw, the series is intended to dynamically reflect O’Neill’s passion for excellence in government, education and the neurosciences, and to provide opportunities for people to learn about public service from individuals who have unselfishly contributed to the betterment of the human condition.

Gilbertson’s appearance also is part of SVSU’s 2016-17 Visiting Scholars and Artists Series. The series will run during both the fall and winter semesters and is part of SVSU’s community-minded mission to bring leading scholars to campus and share their insights with residents of the Great Lakes Bay Region.