C. Edwin Baker Clerkship
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is proud to offer the C. Edwin Baker Clerkship, named after C. Edwin “Ed” Baker, the University of Pennsylvania law professor known as one of the nation’s foremost constitutional legal scholars and a longtime ally in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality before his death in December 2009.
Professor Baker’s estate, with a $175,000 gift authorized by a committee of his friends and colleagues, is continuing his legacy by making it possible for future generations of lawyers to follow in his footsteps through the C. Edwin Baker Clerkship at NCLR.
The clerkship establishes a lasting program that supports stipends for student law and policy clerks and fellows who have financial need, and who are committed to practicing social justice and progressive civil rights law.
About C. Edwin Baker
From the outset of his career as a young scholar and professor, C. Edwin Baker—the University of Pennsylvania law professor widely respected as one of the nation’s foremost constitutional legal scholars before his death in December 2009—was an ally for equality.
“My brother was an ally of the LGBT community in every dimension—personally, politically, philanthropically, and in his professional scholarship and work,” said Nancy Baker, his sister. “As a lesbian who came of age when being gay was classified as both criminal and crazy, I feel particularly lucky to have had the love and support of my extraordinary brother. Not too many lesbians have heterosexual brothers who published op-ed pieces in The New York Times supporting LGBT rights, donated to LGBT charities, and joined in legal briefs supporting the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. My brother did all this, and more.”
Professor Baker’s estate is continuing his legacy by making it possible for future generations of lawyers to follow in his footsteps through the new C. Edwin Baker Clerkship at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The $175,000 gift from Professor Baker’s estate was authorized by a committee consisting of Baker’s sister, Nancy, and his friends, Brooklyn Law School Professor Michael Madow, New York Law School Professor Carlin Meyer, and Columbia Law School Professor Carol Sanger.
“It is rare that a great intellect is also such a kind, caring, giving, and down to earth person,” Meyer said of Professor Baker, whose four books and more than 70 published articles were read by thousands of colleagues, policy makers, and students around the world. “Ed was a great friend and mentor, and in this way, he will continue to mentor others despite his untimely death.”
The clerkship will create a lasting program that supports stipends for student law clerks and fellows who have financial need, and who are committed to practicing social justice and progressive civil rights law. Applications are now being accepted for summer 2011.
“Ed was one of the most incredible progressive legal scholars in American history, and we are honored that his estate has chosen NCLR to continue his legacy by helping develop new generations of attorneys who are equally committed, equally devoted, and equally passionate about the law and social justice as Ed was throughout his life,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “He truly is a role model, and we are proud to be able to provide this opportunity through NCLR for the next generation of legal leaders.”
Professor Baker’s interest in law began as a young boy in Madisonville, Kentucky, when he, in the fourth grade, invoked the First Amendment to try to discourage his parents from making him attend church services. It was that intrigue with the power of the law, coupled with a deep conviction that everyone has the right to make their own decisions and live according to their own commitments and ideals, that would propel his LGBT advocacy, as well as his notable career as a law professor and scholar.
In the mid-1970s, after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and his law degree from Yale University, Ed risked his career as an untenured assistant professor at the University of Oregon Law School to speak openly—at a time when most allies were fearful—in support of lesbian and gay rights because he believed it was the right thing to do, helping to organize the law school faculty to support the Eugene Gay Rights Ordinance, and later to oppose its repeal.
He joined the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1981, where he was the Nicholas F. Gallicchio Professor of Law and Communication, focusing his teaching on constitutional law, mass media law, the First Amendment, and jurisprudence. “No one has been as deep. No one as broad. No one as creative. No one as original,” said Cornell Law School Professor Steve Shiffrin of Professor Baker. “I do not believe that anyone has made as important an intellectual contribution to the First Amendment as Ed Baker, whether in this century or the last.”
Since Professor Baker’s death, his sister Nancy has heard from people who knew him over the years, with each noting his commitment to the law and social justice, “but even more importantly, they have spoken about the way my brother always met people as people, viewing sexual orientation and gender identity as no reason to relate to people differently.
“My hope is that through this clerkship, we make it possible for my brother’s legacy, his devotion to social justice and his commitment to LGBT equality to live on in future generations.”
Professor Baker resided in New York City. He was 62. He is survived by his sister, Nancy Baker, of El Granada, California, and her spouse, Cathy Hauer. He is predeceased in death by his parents, Falcon O. Baker, Jr. and Ernestine Magagna Baker.