U.S. President Joe Biden said on March 3 that among those he intends to appoint to key roles is a senior university administrator who is a Jewish expert on constitutional and civil-rights law.

Biden announced Risa Goluboff, dean of the University of Virginia School of Law and a law and history professor, as a member of the Permanent Committee for the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise. Goluboff is the first female dean of the law school.

Congress established the committee, which consists of the librarian of Congress and four members named by the president, in 1955 to oversee the portion of Holmes’ estate the Supreme Court associate justice left to the nation. The committee documents and disseminates Supreme Court history.

“The committee’s principal purpose is to continue to publish the multi-volume work documenting the history of the court,” according to a White House release.

In July 2019, Goluboff addressed what should be done in the face of evil in reference to the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., home to the university. “I personally have asked that question in a number of different capacities,” she said in 2019. “As a Jew, as a mother, a constitutional-law scholar, a civil-rights historian, the dean of a law school, a university leader and a resident of the city of Charlottesville.”

“You mourn the loss of life, you mourn the very real injuries, and you mourn the loss of a kind of innocence,” she said, as quoted in The Chautauquan Daily. “It was a closing up of the distance between our sense of ourselves as secure in a modern America as Jews, and the vulnerabilities Jews have faced here, at other times, and everywhere across the world.”

Goluboff also spoke on the panel “Hate on Trial: The Charlottesville Case” on March 30, 2022, at the Jewish Theological Seminary. In that talk, JTS announced that panelists would “share personal reflections on the issues at stake from a Jewish perspective, offering insights that will enrich the conversation about ensuring the future of our democratic nation and the American Jewish community.”

On Dec. 1, 2020, Goluboff was part of a discussion on “Leadership Across Difference,” which the University of Virginia’s Jewish-studies program hosted and which addressed, in part, “How do Jewish tradition and historical experience speak to contemporary questions of justice and equality, pluralism and civil discourse?”


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