You are here

Steven G. Gey dies

Steven G. GeySteven G. Gey

Steven G. Gey, a nationally recognized scholar of constitutional law, died on June 9, 2011, at the age of 55, according to Florida Today (June 10, 2011). Born in Pensacola, Florida, on April 6, 1956, Gey earned a B.A. in philosophy from Eckerd College in 1978 before receiving his J.D. at Columbia University, where he was articles editor of the Columbia Law Review, in 1982. After a brief stint at the New York City law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison, he became a professor of law at Florida State University in 1985; he became the David and Deborah Fonvielle and Donald and Janet Hinkle Professor of Law in 1999. A specialist in religious liberties and free speech, he compiled the casebook Religion and the State (2001, second edition 2006), coauthored The First Amendment: Cases and Theory (2008), and wrote dozens of articles on religious liberties, free speech, and constitutional interpretation. In a tribute to Gey published in the Florida State University Law Review in 2008, Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law, described his work on the Establishment Clause as "among the best scholarship in the area in recent years."

While at Paul, Weiss, Gey helped to litigate Edwards v. Aguillard, which ended in 1987 when the Supreme Court ruled that teaching creationism in the public schools is unconstitutional. His concern with the constitutional issues surrounding the teaching of evolution continued, culminating in the law review article "Is It Science Yet? Intelligent Design, Creationism, and the Constitution," coauthored with Matthew J. Brauer and Barbara Forrest, published (PDF) in the Washington University Law Quarterly in 2005. Citing "the absence of objective scientific support for intelligent design, evidence of strong links between intelligent design and religious doctrine, the use of intelligent design to limit the dissemination of scientific theories that are perceived as contradicting religious teachings, and the fact that the irreducible core of intelligent design theory is what the Court has called the 'manifestly religious' concept of a God or Supreme Being," the article concluded that "intelligent design theory cannot survive scrutiny under the constitutional framework used by the Court to invalidate earlier creationism mandates." A member of NCSE's legal advisory committee, Gey received NCSE's Friend of Darwin award in 2007.