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Williams Lecture to Feature Noted Land Use Scholar Joseph Sax

January 12, 2009

Photo of Joseph Sax.

Noted land use scholar Joseph L. Sax will deliver this year's Norman Williams lecture.

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT – Renowned land use scholar Joseph L. Sax will present the 2009 Norman Williams Distinguished Lecture in Land Use Planning and the Law at Vermont Law School on Thursday, February 5, at 5:30 p.m. in the Chase Community Center.

Professor Sax's lecture, "The Property Rights Sweepstakes: Has Anyone Held the Winning Ticket?" will explore the inequities of the current legal framework relating to land use. The lecture is hosted by the VLS Land Use Institute.

"After nearly three decades struggling with the problem, the U.S. Supreme Court seems finally to have given up the effort to formulate workable rules for regulatory takings," Sax said in offering a preview of his lecture. "The theoretical battle appears to be over, at least for the present, with no winners. But there are losers, landowners who are clearly victims of inequity, if not of constitutional wrongs."

The James H. House and Hiram H. Hurd Endowment Professor of Environmental Regulation, Emeritus, at University of California, Berkeley, Sax has taught environmental law, water law, public land law, and property rights since 1962. He is the author of Defending the Environment (1970), Mountains Without Handrails (1980), and Playing Darts with a Rembrandt (2000), and coauthor of Legal Control of Water Resources, 4th edition (2006).

"We are honored and privileged to have Professor Sax present this year's Williams Lecture at Vermont Law School," said VLS President and Dean Jeff Shields. "This annual event is a highlight for our students and faculty, and demonstrates the VLS commitment to land use planning and the law."

Prior to his appointment at Berkeley, Sax was the Philip Hart Distinguished University Professor at the University of Michigan. He served as a visiting professor at the University of Paris and Stanford University. From 1994 to 1996, he served as counselor to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, where his responsibilities included federal water resource policy, endangered species law enforcement, and property rights legislation.

Professor Sax is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Chicago Law School. He holds an honorary doctor of laws degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford.

Professor Sax recently provided an expert report in an original jurisdiction case before the U.S. Supreme Court involving a dispute over the Delaware River. He testified as an expert on public trust issues for the State of Mississippi in a case involving submerged lands under the Gulf of Mexico and has served as an expert for the U.S. Department of State in an international dispute over mining in the California Desert Conservation Area.

About the Williams Lecture
Norman Williams came to Vermont Law School in 1975 after a long and distinguished career in public service and teaching, particularly in the area of land use planning. He played a key role in founding Vermont Law School's Environmental Law Center. The Norman Williams Distinguished Lecture in Land Use Planning and the Law series is a gift of Frances Yates, trustee of Vermont Law School, in memory of both Norman Williams and Anya '90 and Charles Yates ‘90. The lecture is hosted by Vermont Law School's Land Use Institute. For more information about the 2009 Williams Lecture, please visit: or contact Jane D'Antonio at 802-831-1217 or

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