Drew S. Days III Archive

Drew S. Days

Drew S. Days

Drew S. Days III Archive 

The Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School is pleased to present the Drew Days III Archive in collaboration with LLMC Digital. This resource contains speeches, remarks, and interviews by Days. It can be found in LLMC Digital's Special Focus Collections and LLMC Open Access thanks to sponsorship by Yale Law School.

Drew S. Days III was a government official and legal scholar of rare importance and a person of rare charm.  Born in Georgia, he later was quoted in an interview: "I rode segregated buses, and I was from the era with the segregated lunch counters and water fountains.  I had a real feel for that.  My mother was a schoolteacher, and she suffered from the fact that her aspirations were very limited because of segregation."

After being educated at Hamilton College and Yale Law School, Days served in the Peace Corps in Honduras.  From 1967 to 1977, he was an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, becoming first assistant counsel.  His work for NAACP was notable enough that he was appointed as assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Carter Administration, the first African-American to head any of the divisions of the Department of Justice.  In 1978, he successfully persuaded the DOJ to support affirmative action programs.

Days joined the Yale Law faculty in 1981, later becoming Alfred M. Rankin Professor of Law.  His professorial career was interrupted (1993-1996) by his return to government service as Solicitor General of the United States.  The Solicitor General is the chief advocate for the federal government before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law notes that "in 17 oral arguments before the Court, his soft-spoken, scholarly style of advocacy won praise. ... Days's most notable victory during his tenure may have been U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton (1995), in which the Court held that states may not impose term limits on members of Congress."

At Yale, Days taught courses in constitutional law and civil procedure.  He was the founding director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for Human Rights.  In addition to his academic career, he led the Supreme Court and appellate practice at the law firm of Morrison & Foerster.  He himself might have been nominated for the Supreme Court had it not been for some controversies while he was Solicitor General.  Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh explained, "Drew was committed to principle, not politics.  It would have been easy for him to do the politically expedient thing to get ahead, but that was not in his DNA."

The speeches and other materials in the Drew Days III Archive range over the spectrum of his legal and scholarly activities.  The time period covered spans 1977 to 2015.  Digital availability of this Archive will be a boon to researchers of civil rights, other aspects of law and education, and the biography of this extraordinary individual.  The Lillian Goldman Law Library is grateful to Drew Days's widow, Ann Langdon-Days, and his administrative assistant, Alieta Lynch, for making the Archive possible.


Fred R. Shapiro, Associate Director for Collections and Special Projects and Lecturer in Legal Research, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School


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