Judge Pierce Lively honored for intellectual achievement
DANVILLE, KY - Pierce Lively, a Centre College graduate who distinguished himself as a federal judge, has been named as the 2000 recipient of the Medallion for Intellectual Achievement given by the University of Kentucky Libraries. The award will be formally presented during a March 27 ceremony at UK's Singletary Center for the Arts.
The award is given each year to recognize high intellectual achievement in Kentucky or by Kentuckians and to encourage education and the free and creative use of the mind by citizens of Kentucky. Prior recipients have included historian Thomas D. Clark and writer Wendell Berry.
In 1972, Lively was nominated by the President of the United States to become a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals. At a time when the President and the Congress chose to disagree on virtually everything, they agreed on the nomination. Lively's colleagues testified in his confirmation hearings that he is a man blessed with remarkable intellectual gifts and a strong sense of integrity.
Over the course of 25 years on the bench, Lively became one of the country's most admired jurists. As one of the Sixth Circuit's most productive judges -- including five years as its chief judge -- he established a vast body of legal opinion on issues ranging from school desegregation to law enforcement. While the bulk of his work was conducted in the lonely confines of law libraries and the appellate court offices, his legal research and interpretation had a decided impact on the nation and the day-to-day lives of its citizens. He is one of the nation's judges most often cited in legal textbooks and law school courses.
Lively was the principal judge on cases involving school busing and desegregation, textbook censorship and the separation of church and state, abortion, and due process in law enforcement proceedings. Though all these cases and many others, there was a common thread in his work. The thread was not one that made it easy to label Lively as a stereotypical conservative or liberal. Instead, Lively came to be known as that rarest of gems: a man who relentlessly pursues reason and fairness. A dispassionate jurist, Lively has been marked by his will to do the right thing and his awareness of the Constitution as a defining document in our democracy. Unmoved by swings in public opinion and political partisanship, Lively has studied law and history with meticulous care and rendered opinions marked by clarity and intelligence. As one of his long-time colleagues said: "Whatever the issue, both sides are glad to see him on a case. That says it all."
A Louisville native, Lively earned a bachelor's degree from Centre in 1943 with high honors and served in the U.S. Navy for three years before entering the University of Virginia law school. At the university, he was an editor of the Virginia Law Review and earned academic honors.
After completing his law degree, Lively served as a law clerk with Judge Shackelford Miller on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati. Lively returned to Danville in 1949 and pursued law in private practice until his 1972 appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Lively has received a number of prior honors, including the OAK award
given to an outstanding alumnus of a Kentucky college.
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