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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

The Sandra Day O'Connor Project on the State of the Judiciary: Remarks Introducing Speaker, Dr. Alan Greenspan

Georgetown University Law Center
October 2, 2008

It’s a pleasure to be able to join you this morning for this important conference that will explore the relationship between two important American institutions, the judiciary and the market.

And it’s appropriate that this Conference, this critical discussion of our court system, takes place here…on this campus…and in this city. Georgetown was founded in 1789—just nine months before the U.S. Constitution was ratified—and has a rich tradition in the areas of law, business, and public policy. For two centuries, we have also brought together distinguished public servants and scholars to investigate pressing issues of our time.

For their participation and instrumental support of this conference, there are some people I would like to recognize:
• Most especially, I want to thank Justice O’Connor for her remarks and for brining all of us together today to discuss a matter of such great importance.

I also want to acknowledge:
• Justice Breyer
• Justice Souter
• Members of the Board of Visitors to the Law School
• Many distinguished federal and state judges
• And Dean Aleinikoff and the Law School for hosting this event and for serving as home to the Sandra Day O’Connor Project. Alex is one of the great leaders in America's legal education community, and I am grateful for his leadership.

The Sandra Day O’Connor Project is an initiative, as you know, which began in 2006 to critically examine the independence of the courts. For this year’s conference – on how the perception of partisanship in the judiciary effects market functions – I have the pleasure of presenting to you Dr. Alan Greenspan – a dedicated and principled public servant – who has made a career of studying how our market responds to social changes.

From an early age, Dr. Greenspan had an aptitude for mathematics – whether he was remembering baseball batting averages or performing large calculations in his head at the age of five.

In the early 1940s, he studied clarinet at Julliard and later joined trumpeter Henry Jerome’s big band. Even then, Dr. Greenspan’s affinity for economics was obvious. He was, of course, “the clarinetist who could also fill out his bandmates’ income tax forms for them” (NYT Book Review).

Soon after this, he began studying economics as an undergraduate at New York University. Later, he continued his education in NYU’s graduate program, completing his doctorate in 1977. In the meantime, in 1954 he co-founded Townsend-Greenspan & Co, Inc., an economic consulting firm. And in 1974, he was nominated by President Ford as the chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors.

His extensive preparation and expertise earned him the position of Chairman of the Federal Reserve in 1987, appointed by President Reagan. During his eighteen years in that position, Greenspan presided over the largest economic expansion in U.S. history.

Throughout his career in public service, he has worked in a bipartisan manner.  Dr. Greenspan has achieved great respect for his actions designed to limit negative economic developments…his deep understanding of market mechanisms and the dynamism—and often unpredictability—of a free market economy.…and his appreciation of the need for collaboration in forging successful solutions for unforeseen changes in the economy.

In our present situation, with the fairness of our courts being questioned…and with the historic challenge to market stability that we are facing, we must reaffirm our commitments to fair laws and sound market principles. This conference offers the chance to explore relationships between corporations and courts as institutions…and between the effect of court decisions, especially those that may be perceived as partisan, on the economy and the market.

It is especially in this moment of such volatility—when there is perhaps unprecedented debate about the programs and policies that may have contributed to the current economic and judicial landscape—that we must come together just like this in the hope that together, we can reach thoughtful and fair solutions for the problems in our markets and courts. We are indeed fortunate to have with us this morning a man whose life has been committed to the search for such answers.  Please join me in welcoming Dr. Alan Greenspan…

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