Lee, Rex Edwin (1935–1996)
LEE, REX EDWIN (1935–1996)
United States solicitor general, educator, and one of the nation's foremost Supreme Court advocates, Rex E. Lee was born in Los Angeles on February 27, 1935. He was undergraduate student body president at Brigham Young University and first in his class at the University of Chicago Law School. After law school, he served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice byron r. white.
As a public servant, Lee held the positions of Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the administration of President gerald r. ford and Solicitor General in the administration of President ronald reagan. During his four years as Solicitor General, he Served as the chief appellate advocate for the federal government and argued a number of cases of constitutional significance, with a particular emphasis on religious liberty, separation of powers, and federalism. In total, Lee presented oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court on fifty-nine occasions. In 1972, at the age of thirty-seven, Lee became the founding dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. After serving in the federal government and practicing law in the firm of Sidley & Austin, Lee returned to Brigham Young University where he became its tenth president.
A man of faith, Lee served his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in a number of capacities throughout his life. At the young age of nineteen, he worked as a missionary in Mexico. Later in life, he served as a lay leader of congregations in the Washington, D.C. area and in Utah. Probably his most significant church service occurred while he served as law school dean and university president for Brigham Young University, the nation's largest church-owned university.
During his life, Lee wrote a number of books and essays on subjects ranging from law to religion. Two of his books, A Lawyer Looks at the Constitution (1981) and A Lawyer Looks at the Equal Rights Amendment (1980) provide insight into his moderate conservative philosophy of government. Lee also published a number of essays on religion and a book entitled What Do Mormons Believe (1992).
Lee had a family of seven children with his wife, Janet. He often depended on his family for support as he suffered the effects of cancer during the final eight years of his life. On March 11, 1996, Lee died after a ten-month battle with pneumonia. It was reported that from his hospital bed before his death he was preparing to give his sixtieth oral argument before the Supreme Court.
Michael W. Mc Connell
Fried, Charles 1991 Order and Law: Arguing the Reagan Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Lee, Rex E. 1980 A Lawyer Looks at the Equal Rights Amendment. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press.
——1981 A Lawyer Looks at the Constitution. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press.