Rest in Peace, Charlie Rice

On February 25, longtime University of Notre Dame law professor Charlie Rice died at the age of 83.

Charlie Rice, RIP

In the late 1970s Charlie Rice and I had an argument at a National Right to Life Committee meeting in Anaheim, California.

I was taking time off from the conferences to picket a nearby abortion clinic, and Charlie thought this was a waste of time. There was a lot of action at the clinic that morning and I nearly got arrested—although I avoided it by joining a wedding party at a nearby church.

But we did talk one young woman out of having an abortion and later in the day I told Charlie this. I said maybe I had an argument for skipping a talk or two after all. From that time on Charlie and I were good friends.

Some years later, when he had been invited to Ireland to fight against the Single European Act, which would have joined Ireland to eight other countries—all of which had legal abortion and might force Ireland into legalizing it as well—he asked me to take his place, as he had other commitments that he couldn’t get out of.

While there I spent ten exciting days traveling all over Ireland with Patty White and did at least a dozen radio shows. Later when Charlie and I were attending a pro-life meeting in Dublin I helped him celebrate his daughter’s sixteenth birthday party in the hotel where we were staying.

During the NOW v. Scheidler trial, Charlie invited our attorneys and the whole lot of defendants down to do a mock trial in the Notre Dame Law School. Through the years we would often meet on the Notre Dame campus, or at any number of pro-life events. I recall one conference in particular where I had sat through his talk and when I was scheduled to talk, Charlie told me he would have to leave early but not to be offended. When I saw him get up to leave I told the audience that Charlie must think my activist proposals were too much for him and he couldn’t take it any more. (After he was gone I explained to my audience that I was only kidding.)

Charlie’s family was fun, too. I loved some of their antics, as when his wife, Mary, would drive by a theatre that showed off-color movies and shout out a common name like Ed or Jack and embarrass several men in the line at the box office.

I will miss Charlie Rice a lot.

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