Stuart Scheingold, UW scholar of
socio-legal studies, dies

Stuart A. Scheingold, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Washington known for his scholarship on law, society, and politics, died in Seattle on Wednesday June 24, 2010. He was 78 and had suffered from leukemia.

Scheingold was widely known for his work on the politics of crime and punishment as well as the work of activist lawyers, who use their legal skills to advance social justice. His early work on the European community also continues to be read and cited often.

“He was quite simply one of the world’s leading commentators on law and politics,” said Austin Sarat, a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College. He and Scheingold directed the multi-volume, internationally-oriented Cause Lawyering Project.

Despite high regard in the world of political science, Scheingold wore his talents lightly. He talked not only political science but funny things that happen in life: the vagaries of golf, mishaps while traveling, encounters with strangers in a hot tub. “Stu’s capacity to shift gears from intensely serious intellectual debate to empathetic displays of concern for others, then to side-splitting storytelling, all in one sitting, made for many unforgettable times,” said Michael McCann a UW professor of political science and longtime friend.

Scheingold wrote or edited 15 books, the most famous of which is “The Politics of Rights: Lawyers, Public Policy, and Political Change.”

“As a teacher, I can tell you that “The Politics of Rights” continues to move readers, especially in law school,” said Scheingold’s former graduate student, Anne Bloom. She added that many students referred to their professor as “the fabulous Stu Scheingold.” To help celebrate his retirement as a star in the world of political science, Bloom and fellow students wore t-shirts with Scheingold’s photograph.

Scheingold was an avid athlete, constantly pushing to improve in skiing, jogging and bicycling. He was a meticulous dresser (pressed blue jeans, blue blazer with leather patches) and his office held no stray papers. Scheingold brought the same attitudes and organizational skills to his intellectual research, “and they set a template for his graduate students,” said David Olson, a UW emeritus professor of political science who knew Scheingold for 45 years.

Toward the end of his life, Scheingold turned to new research: politics and literature. He wrote about political estrangement and loss of political agency as depicted by writers such as Franz Kafka, Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut.  Continuum publishers rushed production of “The Political Novel: Re-Imagining the Twentieth Century,” such that Scheingold was able to hold a hard copy shortly before his death.

Scheingold received his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, then taught at several universities, including the University of Wisconsin and the University of California, Davis before coming to the UW in 1969.

In 2001, the Law and Society Association awarded Scheingold the Harry J. Kalven Jr. Prize for distinguished contributions to socio-legal scholarship. Three years later, the American Political Science Association presented him a Law and Courts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Scheingold is survived by his wife, Lee Scheingold. A memorial service will be held at the UW on October 14, 2:30-5pm, in the Peterson Room of the Allen Library.

The Stuart and Lee Scheingold Endowment for Social Justice has since been established with the goal of creating a permanent professorship to honor Professor Scheingold. Donations may be made to the Stuart and Lee Scheingold Endowed Fund in Social Justice. Please make checks payable to the UW Foundation, noting the specific Scheingold Endowment Fund, and send to Ann Buscherfeld at the Department of Political Science address listed at the bottom of this page, or please click on the following link for a secure web donation: The UW Foundation Stuart and Lee Scheingold Endowed Fund in Social Justice.