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INBRIEF

Thoughtful and Savvy, Vilsack ’75 Answers Any and Every Question Asked

“How can someone be married to Britney Spears for 54 hours and have all the rights attached to it, like inheritance and life and death decisions… but a committed gay couple for 25 years has none of those rights?”

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Vilsack speaking to students on campus. That night he received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Like any good presidential candidate, two-term Iowa governor Tom Vilsack ’75 can talk fluently about pretty much any domestic or international issue, often attached to personal stories that hit the core of the matter. A room filled with students last October 2007 leveled pointed questions at the man who months before dropped out of the presidential race. But his chops were still sharp for questions on Iran, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Israel, ethanol, immigration, who owns Jerusalem, and other hot topics of the day. After an hour of questions, Vilsack seemed not only undaunted, but to be just warming up. You got the feeling that the students had only scratched the Vilsack surface. “But there’s no greater feeling,

and no greater pressure than being in a courtroom in front of a jury,” Vilsack said toward the middle of the session. Asked about intellectual property, the ’75 grad offered an amusing tale about his trip to China to promote a protected process for producing Iowan’s soy bean. On gay marriage, Vilsack said he needed to “dodge” the question because his law firm, Dorsey & Whitney, was representing six gay couples. But in the end he couldn’t resist. “We need to look at ourselves…what is the value we’re trying to promote here? I think it’s the notion of commitment…. How can someone be married to Britney Spears for 54 hours and have all the rights attached to it, like inheritance and life and

death decisions in hospital situations, but a committed gay couple for 25 years has none of those rights? We ought to have a civil system to support the value commitment.” Earlier that day it was announced that former vice president Al Gore had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Asked by a student whether Gore should run for president, Vilsack, who at the time was national co-chair for Sen. Clinton’s presidential campaign, offered an unrehearsed response that called for Gore to follow his “passion” as an environmental advocate. By the time the second television interviewer asked him the same question later that day, Vilsack’s message had swelled to a confident, perfectly crafted reply. At the time of his visit, Vilsack was heading a national task force of 30 people to examine the science, economics and politics of global warming. Vilsack has long been outspoken on energy and security issues, as governor and presidential candidate, and has called for replacing the Department of Energy with a Department of Energy Security. Vilsack was on campus to receive the Albany Law Distinguished Alumni Award, which he accepted that evening at the Barrister Ball. The annual event is held to honor the School’s largest donors. –DS

Profile for Albany Law School

Albany Law Magazine - Spring 2008  

The high stakes of faculty scholarship, pg. 26; Also Inside: Grads in D.C.; Vilsack’s take on running for president; excerpt from Lytton’s H...

Albany Law Magazine - Spring 2008  

The high stakes of faculty scholarship, pg. 26; Also Inside: Grads in D.C.; Vilsack’s take on running for president; excerpt from Lytton’s H...

Profile for albanylaw