John Feerick ’61, former dean of Fordham Law, received the ABA Medal at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting on August 12 in New York. The award, which is the highest honor given by the association, recognizes exceptionally distinguished service to the cause of American jurisprudence, to the law, and to the legal profession.
“Throughout his distinguished career as a lawyer, legal educator, and public servant, his unimpeachable integrity and brilliance has made him a giant in the legal community and an invaluable aide to our government and our democracy,” said ABA President Linda Klein of Feerick before she presented him with the medal.
Feerick, a 1958 graduate of Fordham College and 1961 graduate of Fordham Law, led Fordham Law School as dean for 20 years starting in 1982. Prior to that, he spent more than 20 years helping to build the law firm of Skadden Arps.
Today, Feerick continues to serve as a professor at the Law School, where he is the founder and former director of the Feerick Center for Social Justice. The center brings together students and alumni of the school with other lawyers and community volunteers to extend access to justice on issues ranging from unaccompanied immigrant children to domestic violence to debtor education.
Feerick helped draft the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which celebrates its 50th anniversary of ratification this year. The amendment sets out the succession process for the U.S. presidency and establishes procedures for when the president is disabled or the office of vice president must be filled. Feerick was asked by the ABA to help draft the amendment in 1964 after he wrote an article about the gaps in presidential succession for the Fordham Law Review. His 1976 book, The Twenty Fifth Amendment, was hailed as the definitive account of the amendment’s adoption and implementation and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Recently, Feerick and members of the Feerick Center for Social Justice collaborated with The Maloney Library to develop an online 25th Amendment Archive for use by scholars, journalists, and citizens. The archive offers an interactive timeline of the history and events that prompted Congress to create the amendment, and many of the its materials are unavailable elsewhere. Learn more about the archive in the Fordham Law Newsroom.