Bybee Named to First Judiciary Studies Professorship

October 30, 2009

Bybee Named to First Judiciary Studies Professorship at SU College of Law

October 29, 2009

Professor Keith J. Bybee, a renowned expert on judicial legitimacy and court independence, has been named to the newly created Paul E. and The Hon. Joanne F. Alper ’72 Judiciary Studies Professorship at Syracuse University College of Law.

Created through the leadership and financial commitment of Paul E. and the Hon. Joanne F. Alper, the professorship will fund the scholarly work, research and academic initiatives of Bybee, who is the director of the Institute for Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media (IJPM), an institute jointly sponsored by the College of Law, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Bybee currently holds tenured appointments in the College of Law and in the political science department at the Maxwell School. He is also a senior research associate at the Campbell Public Affairs Institute.

“Creating this position ensures leadership in this important area for Syracuse University College of Law,” says Dean Hannah R. Arterian. “Professor Bybee’s examination of the public’s perceptions of the judiciary, coupled with his work as the founding director of IJPM, makes him a central part of our efforts to promote interdisciplinary scholarship. Paul and Joanne Alper deserve great credit for helping to establish a home for Professor Bybee in the College of Law.”

Alper participated in the October 2005 Bench Press event in Washington D.C. and played an instrumental role in developing IJPM, the institute that Bybee directs. “This country needs an academic institute that can comment upon, and cultivate scholarly studies about, the importance of judicial independence and impartiality,” Judge Alper says. “IJPM meets this pressing national need, and I am proud to have supported the institute at every stage of its development.”

“Professor Bybee understands the critical importance of maintaining an independent judiciary, and he knows that SU is uniquely positioned to lead scholarly dialogue in public policy, communications and the law,” says Arterian. “He is an accomplished scholar who thoughtfully examines the complex mix of legal principle, political pressure and media coverage that define the environment in which our courts now operate.”

In addition to teaching, Bybee lectures extensively on the judiciary and the rule of law. Bybee’s current research interests include American public law, legal theory, political philosophy, American politics, the politics of race and LGBT politics. He is editor of “Bench Press: The Collision of Courts, Politics, and the Media,” a collection of essays on judicial independence written by legal scholars, sitting judges and working journalists, which was published in 2007. His most recent book, “Acceptable Hypocrisies: Common Courtesy and the Rule of Law” is under contract with Stanford University Press and will be published in fall 2010.

Bybee earned his A.B. degree in politics at Princeton University and his Ph.D. in political science at the University of California, San Diego. Before he began teaching at SU in 2002, he was a faculty member in the Department of Government at Harvard University.

Counted in The Campaign for Syracuse University total, the Alper gift will be bolstered through Faculty Today, a gift challenge program created to encourage donors to endow faculty chairs and professorships.

Designed to accelerate the University’s ability to recruit and retain world-class faculty, Faculty Today will supplement the Paul E. and The Hon. Joanne F. Alper ’72 Judiciary Studies Professorship for the first five years. The program was developed by the SU Board of Trustees, which allocated $30 million from the University’s endowment in support of this new initiative. To learn more about Faculty Today, visit

With a goal of $1 billion, The Campaign for Syracuse University is the most ambitious fundraising effort in SU’s history. By supporting faculty excellence, student access, interdisciplinary programs, capital projects and other institutional priorities, the campaign is continuing to drive Scholarship in Action, the University’s vision to provide students, faculty and communities with the insights needed to incite positive and lasting change in the world. More information is available online at