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Gov. Wolf Nominates Law Dean Ken Gormley for Pa. Supreme Court

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that he has nominated Duquesne University School of Law Dean Ken Gormley to fill one of two vacancies on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

"I am deeply honored that Governor Wolf has nominated me to fill a vacancy on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court," said Gormley. "I have spent much of my career in law and legal academics interacting with that court and admiring the high quality of its work. Throughout my life, I have believed that dedicating a portion of one's career to public service is an essential piece of serving in the legal profession. I therefore consider it one of the greatest privileges possible, to be nominated for this position of public trust at the highest level of our legal system.

"If confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate, I look forward to working with all of my energy to make a meaningful contribution to the Court, and to the people of this Commonwealth for whom the system of laws and justice exists."

Gormley has served as the 11th dean of Duquesne's School of Law since March 2010 after serving as interim dean for 15 months. He immediately established a panel of distinguished alumni and members of the legal community with whom he worked to address the law school's strengths and needs. With their help and input, Gormley has carried out an ambitious plan for enhancing the law school and has gained positive attention both in Pennsylvania and nationally.

"A successful and respected lawyer, teacher and scholar, Ken is a man of great intellect, character and integrity," said Duquesne President Dr. Charles J. Dougherty. "He has also been an exceptional leader of our School of Law. Ken's reputation for fairness and his balanced approach with complex issues have served him well throughout his career and will certainly prove to be valuable as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice."

Gormley has a wide array of experience in the legal arena. He has clerked for U.S. District Judge Donald E. Ziegler; served as a special clerk to Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where he drafted opinions on a wide variety of topics; practiced law in the field of civil litigation for the firm of Cindrich & Titus; served as executive director of the Pennsylvania Reapportionment Commission; taught at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and the University of Pittsburgh Department of Political Science; and served as of-counsel with the firm of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis in its litigation and appellate sections. Gormley is also the principal editor of The Pennsylvania Constitution: A Treatise on Rights and Liberties (Bisel 2004), the definitive treatise on the Pennsylvania Constitution that has been cited widely by every court in the state.

In his role as dean of the Duquesne University School of Law, Gormley has consistently maintained public service as a priority. In 2011, he developed and launched the McGinley Public Service Law Fellowships to reaffirm the school's long-standing dedication to public service and advancing the system of laws and government. The fellowships provide various opportunities for students to receive financial support as they work in positions of public service-in all three branches of government-during the summer months. Since the program's inception, Duquesne law students have worked in the state attorney general's office, for state legislators, at all levels of the judicial branch and for various state agencies. One recipient worked for the Supreme Court of Costa Rica and another performed legal work in Africa.

Under Gormley's direction, the School of Law relocated its law clinic to its own building on Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh's Uptown neighborhood. The Tribone Center for Clinical Legal Education, which was dedicated in September 2013, is more easily accessible to clients and provides much-needed legal services to residents of Pittsburgh and the region. It features client-meeting rooms, conference rooms for consultations with judges and attorneys, classrooms and a fully equipped moot courtroom. Gormley also supported the addition of a nationally recognized Veterans Clinic, which enables law students to work directly with veterans accepted into the Veterans Court of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

Since joining the law school faculty in 1994, Gormley has taught courses in constitutional law, state constitutional law, political and civil rights, the First Amendment and the American Presidency. Recognized and often sought as an expert on the Supreme Court of the United States, Gormley has testified before the U.S. Senate three times on topics including wiretapping, presidential pardons and the independent counsel law. He also has testified before the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee on providing civil legal services to low income clients and on amendments to the state's obscenity laws.

During Gormley's tenure as dean, Duquesne's School of Law:

  • Ascended to the top-tier of law schools as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, most recently climbing 23 spots in 2014
  • Ranked by The National Jurist at No. 4 for its Best Value Private Law School list
  • Veterans Clinic was named among the Top 15 most innovative clinics in the United States by preLaw magazine
  • Achieved a first-time taker pass rate of 91.56 percent on the July 2014 Pennsylvania Bar Examination, placing Duquesne third out of 10 Pennsylvania law schools
  • Named by The National Jurist as one of only seven private law schools, on the 2015 Best Value Law Schools list. 

In addition to his work at the law school, Gormley became president of the Allegheny County Bar Association, making him the first president from academia in the association's 137-year history. In that role, Gormley made the bar association's Gender Equality Initiative his top priority and helped to establish the new Gender Equality Institute-one of the first entities of its kind in the nation, designed to advance the interests of women in the legal profession. Prior to that, Gormley was twice elected to serve on the bar association's Board of Governors and also chaired its Legislative Committee for four years.

In addition to his writings on Pennsylvania constitutional law, Gormley is the author of The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr, published by Crown in 2010, and Archibald Cox: Conscience of a Nation, published by Perseus Books in 1997. A New York Times bestseller, The Death of American Virtue received a 2011 Silver-Gavel Award (Honorable Mention) from the American Bar Association. His authorized biography of Archibald Cox was awarded the 1999 Bruce K. Gould Book Award for outstanding publication relating to the law. Gormley's work has also appeared in Pennsylvania Lawyer, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Constitutional Daily, Rolling Stone Magazine, the Harvard Law Review and the Stanford Law Review, among many others.

A native of Pittsburgh, Gormley served as mayor of Forest Hills, Pa., from 1998-2001. His Bar memberships include the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Gormley holds a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.  He resides in Forest Hills with his wife, Laura, and their children.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.