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Richard Saphire

Professor Emeritus


School of Law



Richard Saphire began teaching at the School of Law in 1976. Professor Saphire was attracted to law in his college days, which he describes as a time of political turmoil and social activism. He thought law would allow him to advance the issues he was interested in. After graduating first in his class from Northern Kentucky University, where he was a member of the Order of the Curia, Professor Saphire became an attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati. There he represented low-income people. He was also the chief attorney for the firm’s Tenant Representation Project. “It was an exciting practice but demanding and often frustrating,” he says, “because the legal system is stacked against the poor.”

Interested in teaching because “busy practitioners rarely have the opportunity to step back and reflect,” Professor Saphire wanted that opportunity. He decided to return to school for further studies, and in 1975 received a Master of Law degree from Harvard Law School, where he completed his thesis under the auspices of the renowned constitutional scholar, Professor Paul Frend. He is glad he then began teaching. “I can strike a balance between the intellectual aspect of law and legal practice,” he says. He particularly enjoys educating and influencing enthusiastic and hardworking students, and having more control over the scholarly and public interest work he does on the side.

He taught law at Oklahoma City University before coming to UDSL, which had recently reopened. He has twice been a visiting professor at the University of San Diego and has also taught at Northern Kentucky State University’s Chase College of Law.

Involved with the American Civil Liberties Union for many years, he provides pro bono work as a civil rights and liberties lawyer. Professor Saphire has received the Service Award from the ACLU of Ohio. In addition, he has been a board member of Homefull, a Dayton homeless shelter, since 1989, and is the recipient of Chase College of Law’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Since the 2000 presidential election, he has served as co-counsel in a number of voting rights cases, including Stewart v. Blackwell, a challenge to Ohio's dual-ballotting voting system, and Project Vote v. Madison County Board of Elections, a challenge to Ohio voting regulations that restricted the right to register to vote.

Professor Saphire retired from the University of Dayton School of Law in April 2013.


J.D., Northern Kentucky University, 1971
LL.M., Harvard University, 1975
B.A., The Ohio State University, 1967

Areas of Law

Constitutional Law
Law and Religion
Professional Responsibility

Selected Publications

“Bringing Brown to Cleveland,” chapter in A History of the Northern District of Ohio (Ohio University Press, forthcoming 2011)

The Voting Rights Act and the Racial Gap in Lost Votes, 58 Hastings L. J. 1 (2006) (with Paul Moke) (reprinted in The Civil Rights Litigation and Attorneys Fees Annual Handbook [S. Salzman, ed., West, November 2008])

The Ideologies of Judicial Selection: Empiricism and the Transformation of the Judicial Selection Debate, 39 Toledo L. Rev. (2008) (with Paul Moke)

The Voting Rights Act and the Racial Gap in Lost Votes, Hastings Law Journal (with Paul Moke, 2006)

Litigating Bush v. Gore in the States: Dual Voting Systems and the Fourteenth Amendment, Villanova Law Review (with Paul Moke, 2005)

The Selection of Judges in Ohio, Chapter in The History of Ohio Law (with Michael Solimine, Ohio University Press 2004)

Ohio Constitutional Interpretation, Cleveland State University Law Review (2004)

Doris Day’s Constitution, 46 Wayne State University Law Review (2000)

Equal Protection, Rational Basis Review, and the Impact of Cleburne Living, 88 Kentucky Law Journal 591, 639 (2000)

Religion and Recusal, 82 Marquette Law Review 351 (1998)

Originalism and the Importance of Constitutional Aspirations, 24 Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 599 (1997)

Religious People and Public Life: Some Reflections on Greenawalt, 23 Northern Kentucky Law Review 655 (1996)

Diluting Justice on Appeal? An Examination of the Use of District Court Judges Sitting by Designation on the United States Courts of Appeal, 28 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 351 (1995)

Qualified Immunity in Section 1983 Cases and the Role of State Decisional Law, 35 Arizona Law Review 621 (1993)

Reconsidering the Public Forum Doctrine, 59 University of Cincinnati Law Review 739 (1991)

Schoring Up Article III: Legislative Court Doctrine in the Post CFTC v. Schor Era, 68 B.U.Law Review 85 (1988)

Constitutional Theory in Perspective: A Response to Professor Van Alstyne, 78 Nw. U. Law Review 1435 (1984)

Judicial Review in the Name of the Constitution, 8 University of Dayton Law Review 745 (1983)

Making Noninterpretivism Respectable: The Contributions of Michael J. Perry to Constitutional Theory, 81 Michigan Law Review 782 (1983)

The Search for Legitimacy in Constitutional Theory: What Price is Purity? 42 Ohio State Law Journal 335 (1981)

Specifying Due Process Values: Toward a More Responsive Approach to Procedural Protection, 127 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 111 (1978)