David H. Vernon Professor of Law
BS, Northwestern University, 1968
JD, University of Iowa College of Law, 1971
Professor Bezanson passed away on January 25, 2014. The College of Law announcement is available here.
Art and Freedom of Speech (2009) (University of Illinois Press)
How Free Can Religion Be? (2006) (University of Illinois Press)
How Free Can the Press Be? (2003) (University of Illinois Press)
Following his graduation from the Iowa Law School, Professor Bezanson served as a clerk to Judge Robb of the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and, during the 1972 term (1972-73), as a clerk to Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court. Following his clerkship with Justice Blackmun, Professor Bezanson joined the faculty of the Iowa Law School, where he remained until 1988, serving also as a Vice President of the University of Iowa from 1979-84. In 1988 Professor Bezanson moved to Virginia to become Dean of the Washington & Lee University School of Law. He served as Dean of W & L from 1988 to 1994, returning to the Iowa faculty in the fall of 1996.
Professor Bezanson's teaching centers on constitutional law, freedom of speech and press, and mass communication law, but he also teaches in the fields of administrative law, law and medicine, law and journalism, and torts. He presently teaches Constitutional Law, The First Amendment, and Seminars on Freedom of the Press, the Religion Guarantees, and Law and Technology.
Professor Bezanson's scholarship spans the fields of administrative law, constitutional law, first amendment theory, defamation and privacy law, law and medicine, and the history of freedom of the press. He has published in many law reviews and journals, including the California Law Review, the Illinois Law Journal, the Iowa Law Review, the Vanderbilt Law Review, and the Virginia Law Review. In 1987 he published, with co-authors Gilbert Cranberg and John Soloski, Libel Law and the Press, Myth and Reality (Free Press, Macmillian), a book that has received wide attention and was given the National Distinguished Service Award for Research in Journalism in 1988 by the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi. His book Reforming Libel Law (Guilford Communication series, 1992), which Professor Bezanson co-edited with John Soloski, Director of the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is used in undergraduate and graduate journalism programs throughout the country. Professor Bezanson's book Taxes on Knowledge in America: Exactions on the Press from Colonial Times to the Present (1994, U. Penn. Press), explores the history of taxation of the press in England and America. His other books include: Speech Stories: How Free Can Speech Be?, published in 1998 by the New York University Press; Taking Stock: Journalism and the Publicly Traded Newspaper Company (2001), coauthored with Gil Cranberg and John Soloski of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and supported by the Open Society Institute of New York; How Free Can the Press Be? (2003); How Free Can Religion Be? (2006); and Art and Freedom of Speech (2009) by the University of Illinois Press.
Professor Bezanson has been a member of the American Law Institute (ex officio) and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, and has drafted legislation on a broad range of topics, including civil commitment of the mentally ill, treatment of the terminally ill, surrogacy and assisted conception, and defamation and invasion of privacy. He was the Reporter and principal drafter of the Uniform Rights of the Terminally Ill Act (NCCUSL 1985, 1989), the Defamation ACT (NCCUSL 1993), the Uniform Correction or Clarification of Defamation Act (NCCUSL 1994), and Iowa's Civil Commitment Law (1975).
Professor Bezanson is a member of the Iowa Bar.