Skip to comments.Gary Leedes, constitutional law scholar, dies
Posted on 11/06/2008 8:17:11 PM PST by Captain Jack Aubrey
Gary Charles Leedes had dropped out of college and was working in his parents' retail business in his native Philadelphia when he decided he'd made the wrong career choice.
"He was an intellectual man. His passion was reading and books and learning. He just wasn't cut out for a fabric shop," said his wife of 46 years, Carol Brooks Leedes.
He put himself through the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics in 1962, and then took aim at a law career in academia. He earned a law degree at Temple University, followed by a master's in law and doctor of scientific jurisprudence degree, both at Harvard University.
Dr. Leedes, a widely recognized constitutional law scholar whose expertise contributed to the legalization of homeschooling and was sought on the admission of women to Virginia Military Institute, died Tuesday after a short illness.
The 74-year-old law professor emeritus, who taught at the University of Richmond from 1973 to 1999, will be remembered tomorrow, Friday, at a memorial service at 10 a.m. in UR's Cannon Chapel.
He was a visiting professor at Washington University in St. Louis when the first homeschooling legal case arose there in 1986. "It was totally illegal [to homeschool in Missouri] at the time," his wife said. He assisted in drafting legislation that helped "get the law changed in Missouri and, when we moved here, in Virginia as well."
His views were solicited on issues ranging from abortion, euthanasia and obscenity to the separation of church and state and religious freedom. He acted as attorney for the Rutherford Institute and for churches involved with free exercise of religion cases.
A strict constructionist of the Constitution, "he was not in favor of moderate interpretations," his wife said.
Dr. Leedes served as an adviser to the Richmond law firm of McGuireWoods in the court case involving the admission of women to then-all-male Virginia Military Institute.
"At the outset . . . the question of the constitutionality of the single-sex policy was very much an issue that had come to the forefront of legal and educational policy," said William G. Broaddus, a partner at McGuireWoods. "Many, many people assumed that single-sex admissions would be unconstitutional."
Dr. Leedes concluded that the single-sex admission policy was constitutional, "which enabled proponents to go the General Assembly and say, 'Don't give up on this policy. Give us an opportunity to litigate in court,'" Broaddus said.
While a U.S. district judge ruled in 1991 that VMI's refusal to admit women did not violate constitutional protection against discrimination, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that the all-male policy was unconstitutional.
After retirement, theology became Dr. Leedes' new field of endeavor. "He was born Jewish, but with circumstances he changed to believe in Jesus Christ," his wife said.
He was active in a Messianic synagogue as well as a Presbyterian church, where he taught Sunday school.
He researched and wrote books dealing with the doctrine of the Trinity, the New Testament books of Romans and Revelation as well as a work relating to the ways Jews and Christians read, interpret and apply scripture.
Survivors, besides his wife, include a son, John Bradford Leedes of Richmond; a brother, Dr. Richard Leedes of Newtown, Pa.; and two stepgrandchildren.
Never heard of this guy but from the bio he sounds like a really good guy. We need more of his type in the Legal Profession and everywhere else for that matter.