March 06, 2019

Distinguished Attorney Donald Ayer to Speak March 11

Attorney Donald B. Ayer presents the endowed Higgins lecture at the Lewis & Clark Law School on “The Subversive Side of Textualism and Original Intent.”  Mr. Ayer’s extraordinary career has combined government service with private and public interest legal work. 

The Lewis & Clark Law School endowed Higgins Lecture program presents one of nation’s most respected lawyers, Donald B. Ayer for “The Subversive Side of Textualism and Original Intent.”


Mr. Ayer’s extraordinary career has combined government service with private and public interest legal work.  He served in the George HW Bush Administration as the Deputy Attorney General (the number two position in the Department of Justice – the position currently held by Rod Rosenstein). In that role, Mr. Ayer had responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the Department, and encountered some unique challenges.


This followed service as  the Principal Deputy Solicitor General in the Reagan Administration (the number two person in the Solicitor General’s Office), where Mr. Ayer played a critical role in shaping the government’s positions in some of the most controversial and emotional issues of that time.  That experience began a thought process culminating in the ideas he will share in his Higgins lecture on March 11.


Mr. Ayers continued his appellate practice during a distinguished 29 year career in private practice at the international law firm of Jones Day.  He began the firm’s Supreme Court and appellate practice in 1989, and in all has argued 19 cases in the Supreme Court, and dozens of cases in other appellate courts.  He also served as President of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and of Washington D.C.’s appellate Inn of Court.


During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Ayer helped draft and organize a widely reported letter by former Department of Justice officials predicting that the current President would, if elected, pose a threat to the rule of law.   He also wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post critical of FBI Director Comey’s handling of the Clinton investigation. 


Mr. Ayer currently serves on the Council of the American Law Institute, on the boards of several environmental organizations, and as a Senior Advisor to the Campaign Legal Center – the foremost national advocacy group in support of fair electoral districting, campaign finance reform, and voter access.


Mr. Ayer graduated from Harvard Law School and clerked for then-Justice William Rehnquist.  He has also taught law school courses at Duke, Stanford, NYU, and for thirteen years, at Georgetown Law School.


RSVP for the March 11 event.


About the Higgins Distinguished Visitor

The Higgins Distinguished Visitor is endowed by a grant from the Lorene Sails Higgins Charitable Trust. The program was designed to provide an opportunity for Lewis & Clark faculty and students and the Portland community to learn from and interact with leading legal scholars from around the world.