Finkelman will speak at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, in the Walsh Center Auditorium on “The Ten Commandments on the Courthouse Lawn: Why People of Faith Should Oppose Religious Monuments on Public Space.” The talk will count as a senior forum plenary but is also open to the public.
A specialist in race and law, American legal history, and constitutional law, Finkelman has had more than 150 scholarly articles and more than 30 books published. Other pieces have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and The Huffington Post. He is an expert in constitutional history, freedom of religion, the law of slavery, civil liberties and the American Civil War.
Finkelman also served as the chief expert witness in the Alabama Ten Commandments monument case in 2003, and the U.S. Supreme Court cited his scholarship on religious monuments in public spaces. He also appeared on television when C-SPAN recorded Finkelman’s two-hour class on the Dred Scott case, which aired nationally and is now a part of C-Span’s series on American History.
Dr. Karen Robbins, assistant professor of history, nominated Finkelman for the visiting professorship.
“In today’s world, students can readily see the potentially explosive role of religion when connected to politics. A quick look at the Middle East reveals that,” she said. “But, less well known, our own history also illustrates what can happen when politics and religion are connected.”
Robbins said St. Bonaventure students of all majors would benefit from listening to Finkelman’s talk.
“We are very fortunate to have a nationally renowned legal historian visiting us as a Lenna Professor and that one of his areas of expertise is religion and the law,” she said. “The Supreme Court takes his scholarship on this seriously, and has cited him. If that body listens to him, we should too.”
The Lenna Endowed Visiting Professorship, established in 1990, is funded through gifts from the late Betty S. Lenna Fairbank and Reginald A. Lenna of Jamestown. It is designed to bring scholars of stature in their field to St. Bonaventure University and Jamestown Community College for public lectures.