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Siegan, Bernard H. 1924-2006

Siegan, Bernard H. 1924-2006


See index for CA sketch: Born July 28, 1924, in Chicago, IL; died of complications following a stroke, March 27, 2006, in Encinitas, CA. Lawyer, educator, and author. A Libertarian who believed in a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, Siegan held controversial legal viewpoints that caused him to lose a potential seat on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of California. After attending junior college and serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he studied law at the University of Chicago and earned his degree in 1949. He then worked for legal firms in Chicago for the next twenty-five years, while also being a research fellow and then law and economics consultant to the University of Chicago in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He joined the University of San Diego faculty in 1974, and was named a distinguished law professor the next year, remaining at the university for the rest of his life. This included serving as University Professor there from 1997 to 1998. Over the years, Siegan headed several small corporations, was a real estate developer and investor, a consultant to government agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Trade Commission, and the U.S. Justice Department, and was on several advisory committees and commissions at the city, state, and federal level. As a legal scholar, Siegan was most noted as an expert on the U.S. Constitution, and he believed that it should be interpreted based on what the Founding Fathers had originally intended. He therefore expressed his disapproval many times with the U.S. Supreme Court's increasingly liberal viewpoints in the 1970s and 1980s. For example, he pointed out that there was no language in the Constitution that demanded a legal separation of church and state, and he felt that economic freedoms were just as important as freedom of the press and of religion. When President Ronald Reagan nominated him for the Circuit Court of Appeals position in California, he consequently met with vehement opposition. The grilling he received from opponents on the left, Siegan would later say, would mark the worst experience of his professional life. Among his books about the Constitution and other legal issues are Other People's Property (1976), The Supreme Court's Constitution (1986), Property and Freedom: The Constitution, the Courts, and Land-Use Regulation (1997), and Economic Liberties and the Constitution II (2005). Despite his often controversial interpretations of the law, Siegan was a highly respected legal scholar and recipient of such honors as the 1982 George Washington Medal from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge and the 1998 Thorsnes award for outstanding legal scholarship.



Los Angeles Times, March 31, 2006, p. B11.

New York Times, April 1, 2006, p. B15.

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