Walter Dellinger, RIP

Walter Dellinger (courtesy Duke University).


Walter Dellinger, a Duke University professor of law, has died at 80 years old. His outstanding work in constitutional law was complemented by his important roles as a lawyer and administrator during the Clinton Administration. He also served as the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) head and acting solicitor general of America. His cases were heard before the US Supreme Court.

Walter was a friend for many years. I also participated in numerous panels and conferences together, including this conference on Obamacare’s individual mandate litigation, sponsored by The American Constitution Society. Although we disagreed on many issues, he supported my work nonetheless. This was true also for younger academics. Walter is a perfect example of being both gentlemanly and knowledgeable. We will miss him greatly.

I send my condolences and sympathies to Walter’s loved ones, friends, and colleagues who might have read this message.

It Raleigh News and ObserverAn obituary describing Walter’s achievements is available:

Walter Dellinger was a well-known Duke law professor and held many of the country’s most prestigious legal posts during his distinguished career. According to The Associated Press, Dellinger passed away Wednesday morning in Chapel Hill. He was 80 years old…..

According to Duke Law, Dellinger is a Charlotte resident. He was born May 15, 1941. The University of North Carolina gave him a degree in political science and he received an honors diploma in 1963. Dellinger then went to Yale Law School and graduated in 1966. Dellinger held various positions in the legal profession at all levels of the federal government throughout his entire career. In 1993, President Bill Clinton named Dellinger to be the Office of Legal Counsel’s assistant attorney general. For three years, Dellinger provided legal guidance to the attorney general and the president….

James Boyle from Duke Law said that Dellinger was “a brillant lawyer, idealist and hilariously gifted storyteller” in an email statement. He said that all three of these qualities are inextricably connected. Walter dreamst of a better future and his profound insight into American law, history, and culture was then combined with the artist’s ability to tell stories in order to realize that dream.

Other notable obituaries can be found here, here and elsewhere.