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David W. Peck Lecture & Dinner

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Thomas Fisher ’91, Solicitor General of Indiana, is the 2023 recipient of the David W. Peck Senior Medal for Eminence in the Law. He opened the Peck program by presenting the Peck Lecture, “Sex, Guns, Climate Change and More: Why Our Republic Needs Independent State Attorneys General,” in Baxter Hall.
The Peck Lecture and Peck Dinner honor the memory of Judge David W. Peck, Wabash Class of 1922, a Harvard law graduate who founded the litigation department at Sullivan & Cromwell, served as Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court, and was a long-time member of the Wabash College Board of Trustees.

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Former Moot Court winner and Bachelor Editor-in-Chief Jake Vermeulen ’21 was back on campus for the festivities.

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Former U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler '85 (center) chats with Jakob Goodwin '23 (left) and Cooper Smith '23 before the lecture.

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2016 Senior Peck Medal recipient Kenneth J. Faulk, Legal Director of the ACLU of Indiana, introduced the evening's honoree, and said of the man he has met in court 74 times, 'He's a wonderful lawyer, and someone you should all emulate in your professional lives. He's obviously intelligent. He approaches his cases with care and meticulousness and the thoughtfulness of an engineer. He's a wonderful writer; I've spent many hours, days, and months unpacking what he writes to try and respond. He's a marvelous oral advocate, which is one of the most difficult skills for any lawyer to attain. He also has a sense of humor about himself, which anyone who knows attorneys knows that is in very short supply among attorneys. But above all, he clearly respects the law.'

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'My thesis is this: Independent state agencies have been and will continue to be critical to the development and maintenance of the republic. By this I mean that the rise of the independent Attorney General, representing in court, not only government administration, but also the popular sovereign and indeed, the greater good, has tracked the advance of the Anglo-American rule of law.'

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He concluded, 'The rule of law is sufficiently important to deserve its own elected official. Governors and legislators have a full array of public policy matters to worry about. But the rule of law is singularly important to republican government and deserves its own custodian. The rule of law needs for its preservation and promotion, an official electorally accountable for that specific task. Subjecting an attorney general to gubernatorial or legislative supervision risks subordinating law to short term political exigencies and the idiosyncratic interests of temporary office holders. Recall Hamilton's demonstrably valid concern with permitting state legislators to recall senators. Law is not politics, or at least it cannot be if liberty is to endure. Each has its place in our republic, (and) we make a grave error if we relegate law to the status of just another political issue, as the centuries have demonstrated. Assignment to an independent Attorney General, gives law a fighting chance to hold its own against the political storm.'

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Matt Price '90 talkes with studnets prior to dinner.

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Michael Eckerle '74 (left), the first Junior Peck Medal recipient in 1974, shares a laugh with David Herzog '77.

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Lorraine McCrary, Assistant Professor of Political Science, converses with a guest.

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Greg Castanias '87 (right) talk with President Scott Feller before dinner.

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Alex Kindig '26 listens intently to a point being made at his table.

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Goodwin (left), the president of the Wabash Pre-Law Society, presents Jeff Drury, Associate Professor of Rhetoric, with the Richard O. Ristine Law Award.

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Riley Floyd '13 (left) presents the Joseph J. Daniels Award in Constitutional Law to Andrew Dever '25 (center) and Seth Kirkpatrick '24.

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Michael Nossett '11 (right) presents the William Nelson White Scholarship Award to Goodwin.

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Castanias (center) presented the Irwin-Garrard Prize to Collin Kinniry '23 (left) and Bryce McCullough '23.

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Price (second from right) presented the james E. Bingham Award to (from left) Brayden Lentz '23, McCullough, and Kinniry.

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Scott Himsel is Associate Professor of Political Science and serves as the Wabash Pre-Law Advisor.

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Himsel (right) presents the Junior Peck Medal to Smith.

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Feller (left) presents Fisher with the Senior Peck Medal. In his remarks, Feller mentioned that (Fisher) 'recognizes that it is his role to help courts resolve cases in a manner that leaves the law as a whole more coherent and more principled. To a truly remarkable degree, the rule of law in our state—indeed, our country—owes a debt to Tom’s decades of dedicated, thoughtful service.'

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In his acceptance, Fisher spoke highly of colleagues and mentors he met at Wabash.

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The liberal arts features prominently in the life of an attorney.

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Adam Brookman '23 listens to Fisher's acceptance speech.

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Malik Barnes '23 networks with Jim Stephenson.

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The Wabash Class of 2023 Pre-Law Society seniors gather with Himsel.

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