[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 147 (2001), Part 9]
[Pages 13304-13305]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

                       TRIBUTE TO MORTIMER CAPLIN

 Mr. WARNER. Madam President, I rise today to honor a man whose 
lifetime record of achievement and service is the embodiment of the 
best of America. My friend, Mortimer Caplin, has

[[Page 13305]]

for 6\1/2\ decades honorably served his Nation, his community, and our 
beloved University of Virginia, amassing an exemplary record of 
accomplishment of the highest order. I ask unanimous consent that the 
following remarks made by Robert E. Scott, Dean of the University of 
Virginia Law School, be printed in the Record. These remarks are part 
of a speech Dean Scott made during the presentation to Mr. Caplin of 
The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law, the University of 
Virginia's highest honor.

  Remarks of Dean Robert E. Scott Upon the Presentation of the Thomas 
Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law to Mortimer M. Caplin, April 12, 2001

       Mr. President, Mr. Rector, and Distinguished Guests: Today 
     is the 10th, and last time I will stand in this glorious 
     space and introduce a recipient of the Jefferson Medal in 
     Law. None of the prior occasions have given me as much joy 
     and pleasure as the duty I discharge today. It is my great 
     honor to present Mortimer M. Caplin, the 2001 recipient of 
     the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law. Mortimer Caplin 
     represents the very best of the University's aspirations for 
     its own. Some people gain distinction by happenstance, by 
     being in the right place at the right time and then rising to 
     the occasion. Mortimer Caplin's reputation rests on a 
     lifetime of achievement. Throughout the nearly seven decades 
     that he has been associated with the University, he has 
     exemplified a singular constancy of excellence. At every step 
     of the way he has shown how talent, courage, persistence and 
     a commitment to service can combine to inspire and transform 
     us. These are exactly the qualities that Mr. Jefferson 
     exemplified in his own life and wanted his University to 
       Mortimer Caplin was born in New York in 1916. He came to 
     Charlottesville in 1933, graduating from the college in 1937 
     and the Law School in 1940. As an undergraduate, he not only 
     earned the highest academic honors but excelled at what the 
     University then regarded as the most estimable athletic 
     endeavor its students could undertake, intercollegiate 
     boxing. At the Law School, he displayed the same pattern of 
     remarkable success. He was elected editor-in-chief of the Law 
     Review and went on to serve as law clerk for Judge Armistead 
     Dobie, a former Dean of the Law School who by tradition chose 
     the most outstanding graduate of each class as his assistant.
       Mort had barely begun his career as a New York lawyer when 
     World War II broke out. In anticipation of the conflict, he 
     already had enlisted in the Navy and took up his commission 
     shortly after Pearl Harbor. Eager for active duty, he 
     requested a transfer out of the stateside intelligence work 
     that was his first assignment. The Navy responded by making 
     him a beachmaster on Omaha Beach during the Normandy 
     invasion. Facing enemy fire, Mort had to make hard choices 
     quickly to ensure that supplies and reinforcements kept 
     coming. When the occasion required it, he used creativity and 
     imagination to cut through bureaucratic impediments to 
     achieving his essential mission. Thus, when a ship's captain 
     refused to beach his vessel at a time when the ammunition it 
     carried was in short supply along the front and no other 
     method of delivering its cargo presented itself, Mort 
     invented a two-star general whose imaginary order got the job 
       Mort Caplin returned from the war to New York, but not many 
     years later heard the University's call and answered, joining 
     the Law faculty in 1950. For over a decade he taught federal 
     taxation and constitutional law. During this time he produced 
     important scholarship and excelled in the classroom. Perhaps 
     equally important was the leadership role Mortimer Caplin 
     played at the University and in the Charlottesville 
     community. In 1950 Mort led the Law faculty in its unanimous 
     decision to admit Gregory Swanson to the Law School, the 
     first African-American to enroll at the University. 
     Subsequently, Mort was a central figure in organizing the 
     efforts of the Charlottesville community to circumvent the 
     ``massive resistance'' campaign that Virginia's political 
     leaders had launched at the Supreme Court's desegregation 
     mandate. Mort, along with other law faculty and their spouses 
     worked unceasingly to ensure that neither children nor civil 
     rights suffered during this dark time in Virginia's history.
       A brilliant and popular professor, Mort Caplin dazzled his 
     students. One who was especially impressed was Robert F. 
     Kennedy, the younger brother of a rising star in the 
     Democratic Party. Several years later, after that rising star 
     had become the President of the United States, John F. 
     Kennedy appointed his brother's former tax professor as 
     United States Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Mort accepted 
     this challenge with his characteristic energy and good 
     judgment. He led that critically important if sometimes 
     unpopular agency for three years, at a time of significant 
     changes in the United States economy and the tax system. At 
     the end of his term, the Treasury Department granted him the 
     Alexander Hamilton award, the highest possible honor that 
     institution can bestow.
       Having traveled to Washington, Mort chose to stay. He 
     recognized the need for a first-rate law firm specializing in 
     tax practice and, with Douglas Drysdale, another Virginia 
     alumnus, founded Caplin & Drysdale.
       Shortly after establishing his law firm, Mort resumed his 
     teaching at the Law School. For more than twenty years he 
     taught advanced courses emphasizing the interplay of tax law 
     and practice. For many students at Virginia, tax law with 
     Mortimer Caplin became a springboard for a career both as 
     public servants and as practitioners in the nation's elite 
     law firms. Mort consistently emphasized the importance of a 
     lawyer's independence and judgment, and preached the central 
     obligation of advancing the public interest while serving 
     one's clients. He sought to lead his students to a life in 
     law that would ennoble and dignify the person living it.
       During this time of building a prestigious law firm and 
     extending a teaching career, Mort Caplin still found time for 
     significant service to the bar and the general public. He 
     served as President of the Indigent Civil Litigation Fund and 
     on the executive committee of the Washington Lawyers 
     Committee for Civil Rights under Law, on numerous significant 
     committees of the American Bar Association, and various 
     charitable organizations. His service as a trustee of the Law 
     School foundation in particular provided great vision and 
     support during a period of change and growth. In recognition 
     of this service, Mort collected a remarkable number of awards 
     and distinctions, honorary degrees and other testimonials to 
     his generosity and accomplishments.
       In 1988, at the age of 72, Mort Caplin became a Professor 
     Emeritus of the University. This simply opened a new phase in 
     his astonishing career of service and dedication to this 
     University and to the profession. Still to come was a five-
     year term on the University's Board of Visitors and exemplary 
     service to the Law School as chair of the executive committee 
     of our recently concluded capital campaign. When we began the 
     Law School campaign in July 1992, the first person I went to 
     see was Mortimer Caplin. When I asked whether he would lead 
     what would become an eight-year fundraising effort. Mort 
     replied simply, ``I'll do it.'' True to his word, he did. By 
     dint of his example and leadership, the Law School recently 
     concluded the most successful campaign in the history of 
     American legal education.
       Mort Caplin remains to this day a central figure in the 
     governance of the Law School and its guidance into the 
     twenty-first century. He has been a driving force behind the 
     Law School's commitment to a broad public vision, as 
     reflected in our decision to dedicate our Public Service 
     Center in his honor. He, in turn, has honored, elevated, and 
     enriched us along every possible dimension.
       Mr. President, Mortimer Caplin comes to us today as the 
     embodiment of what Mr. Jefferson envisioned as the best that 
     we Americans have within us. He has lived a life in law as a 
     high calling, one dedicated to advancement of knowledge, 
     service to the nation, husbanding the great resources with 
     which we have been endowed and ensuring that all Americans 
     can take part in our great national banquet and enjoy the 
     opportunities that life in America presents. On behalf of the 
     School of Law and the selection committee, it is my privilege 
     to introduce Mortimer M. Caplin as the 2001 recipient of the 
     Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law.