The Volokh Conspiracy

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Judge Quattlebaum Eulogizes His CivPro Professor In Erie Case

"Hopefully, [Professor Howard B. Stravitz] would have joined in the dissent."


On Wednesday, a divided panel of the Fourth Circuit decided Pledger v. Lynch. Judge Harris wrote the majority opinion, which Chief Judge Gregory joined. Judge Quattelbaum concurred in part and dissented in part. In his opening paragraph, he eulogized Professor Howard B. Stravitz, who recently passed away after nearly four decades of service at the University of South Carolina. I think Professor Stravitz would have been proud of his former student.

Here is the opening paragraph, and the touching Footnote 3:

Professor Howard B. Stravitz

The West Virginia certificate of merit portion of this appeal involves the interplay of federal and state law, the Erie doctrine and whether laws are substantive or procedural. Admittedly, discussion of these issues may conjure up nightmares from law school. And if not that, it most certainly will cause a reader's eyes to glaze over. Any way you slice it, this is wonky stuff. But as esoteric as these concepts can be, underneath them are important principles of federalism.What is the proper balance of power between the federal government and the states? How do the Supremacy Clause and the Tenth Amendment interact? The gravity of these concepts should wake us from our Erie-induced slumber.3

FN3: Over thirty years ago, I was awakened from such a slumber by Howard B. Stravitz, my Civil Procedure professor. To say that Professor Stravitz was "one of a kind" is an understatement. Barely over five feet tall, impeccably dressed, a connoisseur of fine food and wine, a Brooklyn accent teaching in the deep South, Professor Stravitz taught with passion and humor for over 40 years. He loved the law, his students, his colleagues, his friends and his family. He was deeply religious. And his wonderful personality influenced countless law students for over four decades, including me. Professor Stravitz died April 30, 2021, after a battle with cancer. He will be missed. Even so, I cannot help but think he would enjoy the debate about the issues we face today. Hopefully, he would have joined in the dissent.

May his memory be a blessing.