Paul R. Baier, Scholar and Professor Extraordinaire
Paul R. Baier, Professor Emeritus of the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, and Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society Secretary since 2007, passed away on February 18, 2022. Professor Baier taught constitutional law and advanced appellate advocacy at LSU for 47 years, retiring in January 2020. Professor Baier held the George M. Armstrong, Jr. and Judge Henry A. Politz Professorships, as well as the Herman Moyse, Sr. Endowed Professorship at LSU.
Born in Cincinnati in 1944, Professor Baier attended the University of Cincinnati and earned an A. B. in Economics, summa cum laude, in 1966. In his junior year, he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. An economics professor encouraged Professor Baier to pursue law, which he did at Harvard, where he edited the Harvard Legal Commentary. Professor Baier graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1969. After teaching at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Tennessee School of Law, Professor Baier joined the faculty at LSU in 1972. During his tenure at LSU, Professor Baier became an expert in constitutional law; civil rights litigation; and appellate advocacy.
Professor Baier was selected as a Judicial Fellow with the United States Supreme Court from 1975-1976. During this fellowship, he scripted and narrated a film entitled “Supreme Court.” The film was the first ever made inside the United States Supreme Court building. The film, which won an award from the American Bar Association, was exhibited at the Court for over a decade. Professor Baier served as the Executive Director of the Louisiana Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution from 1987-1991, and on the Governing Board of the Edward Douglass White Historic Site from 1993-1998. One of Professor Baier’s proudest achievements was serving as the Louisiana Bar Foundation’s first scholar-in-residence, from 1990-1992. Professor Baier acted as the Special Assistant State Attorney General for several United States Supreme Court and U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal cases, including Louisiana’s higher education desegregation case. Professor Baier taught summer programs with Justices Harry A. Blackmun (Aix-en-Provence, France and Berlin, Germany) and Antonin Scalia (Siena, Italy). The Louisiana Bar Foundation named Professor Baier its Distinguished Professor in 2004. Another of Professor Baier’s achievements that made him very proud was being named LSU Law Professor of the Year in 2010. The Tiger Athletic Foundation awarded Professor Baier its Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2007 and 2011 for his work with the LSU Honors College.
It should be no surprise that Professor Baier was a prolific author. He edited the memoirs of Justice Hugo Black, Mr. Justice and Mrs. Black (Random House 1986), and Lions Under the Throne: The Edward Douglass White Lectures of Chief Justices Warren E. Burger and William H. Rehnquist (Louisiana Bar Foundation, 1995). The sixth edition of Professor Baier’s The Pocket Constitutionalist was published in 2010, with a foreword by current Chief Justice John L. Weimer, a former student. Professor Baier’s “Speeches” (Claitor’s, 2017) collects select speeches pulled from numerous engagements. Professor Baier’s final work, Written in Water: An Experiment in Legal Bibliography (Twelve Tables Press, 2020), is a biography of Frederick Bernays Wiener.
Professor Baier considered his crowning achievement his play, “Father Chief Justice: Edward Douglass White and the Constitution,” in which he acted and directed. The play premiered in Thibodaux, Louisiana, the birthplace of Edward Douglass White, on March 8, 1997. Since then, there have been productions at Louisiana’s Old State Capitol; the American Association of Law Libraries Annual Meeting and Conference; the Louisiana Supreme Court; Loyola University; Fifth Circuit Judicial Conference; the Coolidge Auditorium at the Law Library of Congress; and Boston’s Social Law Library.
“Paul’s passion for the law and legal education was second to none,” said LSU Law Interim Dean Lee Ann Wheelis Lockridge. “He adored being in the classroom with his students, and moreover couldn’t immerse himself deeply enough in Constitutional law and legal history, particularly of Supreme Court justices.” LSU Law Professor John Devlin said, “Paul had an enormous influence on my approach to and style of teaching—more, probably, than any other colleague.”
Professor Bill Corbett was immediately struck by Professor Baier’s command of the classroom as well as his passion for the subject matter when he served as guest lecturer of one of Corbett’s Labor Law classes.
Professor Baier was the type of person who never met a stranger. He was a grand storyteller, always a gentleman and gracious. It didn’t take long to recognize Professor Baier’s abiding respect for the rule of law, which was inspirational to those who worked with him and knew him personally. Professor Baier will be deeply missed by so many, but his body of work as a professor and scholar extraordinaire will live on. Professor Baier’s impressive curriculum vitae can be accessed here: https://www.law.lsu.edu/directory/files/2015/03/BaierPaul-11-2013.pdf.
In his obituary, his family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Louisiana Supreme Court Historical Society (c/o Law Library of Louisiana, 400 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130) or the Louisiana Bar Foundation.
2015 photo from the 4th Worldwide Congress of the World Society of Mixed Jurisdiction Jurists. L-R Professor Paul R. Baier, wife Barbara, and Justice Nicholas Kasirer of the Court of Appeal of Québec.