Friday, March 21, 2008

Muller and Secunda on Bill Murphy

William Murphy of the University of North Carolina Law School, who passed away last fall, has inspired two new papers just posted on SSRN, one by Eric Muller, University of North Carolina, and one by Paul M. Secunda, University of Mississippi. Eric had a blog post last fall remembering Professor Murphy, whose contract was not renewed by the University of Mississippi in 1962, after he insisted on teaching his students that Brown v. Board of Education was the law of the land and should be enforced.

Eric Muller's paper is Bill Murphy and the Hidden Inner Layer of Academic Freedom.
Here's the abstract:
This essay, which relates the dramatic story of Professor William P. Murphy's repudiation by, and departure from, the University of Missouri amidst the campus protests of 1970, illustrates the importance of faculty governance to a robust and healthy academic institution.

Paul M. Secunda's paper is A Tribute to William P. Murphy: Labor Law Trail-Blazer and Man of Unflinching Principle. It will appear in the Mississippi Law Journal (2008). Here's the abstract:
It is somewhat strange to write a tribute to a person that one has never had the pleasure to meet. Yet, I feel than I am compelled to write about a great man, William Bill Murphy, for in two significant ways he made my career as a law professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law a possibility.
First, post-Brown in 1950's Mississippi, Bill sought to make the transition to integration as painless as possible for his fellow Southerners and he would not accept talk about the illegitimacy of the Supreme Court or its constitutional holdings. Of course, he was mistaken in his optimism, but his adherence to the rule of law and to his principles, when many others sought to avoid the racial situation altogether, was not only praiseworthy, but utterly courageous.
Second, Bill used his position of prestige at the law school to state that labor unions were legitimate, reasonable, and important institutions for the development of the South. Although unions are still anathema to many in this region, his writings helped to raise the level of the dialogue immensely on this controversial topic.
So, quite simply, Bill Murphy, a man I never met, is a not only an inspiration to me, but a trail-blazer who made it possible for me to write freely about civil rights, labor, and employment issues in the Mississippi of today.