KU News Release

Oct. 17, 2012
Contact: Sarah Shebek, KU School of Law, 785-864-2388

KU professor to advise on project to reform American Indian law

LAWRENCE — Less than nine months after serving as an adviser for the American Law Institute’s Election Law Project, University of Kansas School of Law professor Stephen McAllister has been invited to advise on another project of the prestigious institute.

Stephen McAllister

The project will focus on the pressing issue of reforming Indian law. As tribal governments continue to gain more political, social and economic power, Congress has struggled to keep up with changes in the field and with interpreting outdated treaty language and Supreme Court decisions. The Restatement of the Law of American Indians project plans to address that problem.

“This sort of forward-looking, long-range project is particularly appealing to me at this stage in my career, as I feel that I now have sufficient experience and perspective to contribute significantly to such a worthwhile endeavor,” McAllister said. “And I have written lots of articles, so this is a new opportunity to engage in a combination of scholarship and law reform.”

Although McAllister does not consider himself an Indian law expert, he brings important credentials to the project. He recently published an article regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s treatment of Indian tribes as “sovereigns” in terms of filing amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs within the court. His extensive background in federal constitutional law is also relevant to defining the principles of American Indian law, and thanks to his experience as solicitor general of Kansas, he has played a role in cases involving tribes and the state of Kansas.

Advisers for the American Indian Law Project are selected for their expertise and will provide input and guidance to the reporters who draft the Restatement. McAllister will attend meetings once or twice a year, review draft sections and provide written feedback, and otherwise assist the reporters in finalizing a draft that will be presented to the full membership of the institute for eventual adoption. Only 33 people were invited to serve as advisers, including Stacy Leeds, current dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law and former KU law professor.

“I am honored to be invited to serve on this project, not least because of the terrific people involved from a wide range of perspectives and with great diversity as a whole,” McAllister said.

The American Law Institute is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize and improve the law. Involving only the most qualified legal professionals, ALI publishes restatements of the law, model statutes and principles of the law that have an enormous influence both in the courts and in legal scholarship and education.

After graduating from the KU School of Law in 1988, McAllister clerked for Justices Byron White and Clarence Thomas at the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. He also practiced in the Washington, D.C., office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. McAllister received a Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 1999 and the Steeples Award for Service to Kansas in 2008.

McAllister was dean of the KU law school from 2000 to 2005. As solicitor general of Kansas, he assists the attorney general’s office with important constitutional litigation, including writing briefs and presenting oral arguments on behalf of the state before the U.S. Supreme Court, Kansas Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, and both federal and state trial courts in Kansas.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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