Drew Saunders Days III, 79, Little Compton — Law professor, civil rights lawyer, US Solicitor General

Posted 11/20/20

Law professor and civil rights lawyer Drew Saunders Days III died on Sunday, November 15, 2020, at the age of 79. After graduating from Yale Law School in 1966, Days …

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Drew Saunders Days III, 79, Little Compton — Law professor, civil rights lawyer, US Solicitor General

Posted

Law professor and civil rights lawyer Drew Saunders Days III died on Sunday, November 15, 2020, at the age of 79.

After graduating from Yale Law School in 1966, Days became a prominent civil rights lawyer who litigated cases related to police misconduct, school desegregation and employment discrimination, among others. He joined the Yale Law School faculty in 1981 and taught classes in the fields of civil procedure, federal jurisdiction, Supreme Court practice, antidiscrimination law, comparative constitutional law and international human rights. 

From 1988 to 1993, he served as the founding director of the Law School’s Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights, dedicated to increasing knowledge about human rights issues and advancing human rights throughout the world. He also wrote numerous books and journal articles regarding Supreme Court jurisprudence and civil rights.

In 2003, Days received the Award of Merit from the Yale Law School Association in recognition of his contributions to the legal profession and his extensive public service.

After volunteering for the Peace Corps in Honduras from 1967 to 1969 with his wife Ann, he worked at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York City.

He served as U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights from 1977-1981 under President Jimmy Carter, as the first African American to serve in that role. He was in charge of the government’s effort to protect affirmative action programs, which were first upheld as constitutional in the Supreme Court case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.

From 1993-1996, Days served as Solicitor General in the Department of Justice under President Bill Clinton, where he was responsible for arguing the government’s cases before the Supreme Court, a total of 26 cases during his lifetime.

Days was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1941 and raised in Tampa, Florida and New York. His litigation work brought him back to his childhood home of Tampa when he was part of the trial team in Mannings v. Board of Public Instruction of Hillsborough County, Florida. Days’ work contributed to the outcome of the case, which desegregated his childhood Tampa schools.

He graduated from Hamilton College with a degree in English literature in 1963. He served on Hamilton College’s Board of Trustees, and the college named its Days-Massolo Center after him in 2011. The center promotes community inclusion, facilitates intercultural dialogue and helps make Hamilton College a welcoming environment.

Days was an avid swimmer, and the summers he spent with his family at his mother-in-law’s home in Little Compton held a special place in his heart. 

Drew Days is survived by his wife of almost 54 years, Ann Langdon-Days; his two daughters, Dr. Alison L Days and Elizabeth J Days; his two granddaughters, Frida and Georgia Rico; and his sister, Jacquelyn Serwer.  

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