In Memoriam Michael W. Lewis

The Federalist Society is saddened to learn of the passing of Michael W. Lewis, Professor of Law at the Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law. Professor Lewis, 50, joined ONU in 2006, after serving as a litigation associate at McGuire Woods LLP and as a consultant for McKinsey & Company. He obtained his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was a member of the Federalist Society and served on the editorial staff of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. Before entering law school, he flew F-14’s for the U.S. Navy and graduated first in his class from Top Gun. He later served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

At ONU, Professor Lewis taught commercial law, international law, and the law of war. His research focused on the law of war, and his scholarship has been cited by a number of the U.S. Courts of Appeals. In the years that followed his appointment, he presented on the topics of terrorism, national security, the rules of engagement, military tribunals, drones, and torture at dozens of Federalist Society events nationwidemost recently, on the national security and international law panel at the 2014 National Lawyers Convention. In addition to speaking regularly at Federalist Society events, Professor Lewis also served on the Executive Committee of the Federalist Society’s International & National Security Law Practice Group. Vince Vitkowsky, Chair of that Executive Committee, said “Mike was an amazing personan incredible blend of talent, energy, charisma, sincerity, and generosity of spirit. We are privileged to have known him and worked with him, and we will miss him profoundly.” This sentiment was shared by other colleagues in the national security field. Rachel Brand, Member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and law school classmate of Professor Lewis remarked that she greatly admired his intellect and his commitment to service to his country.” Similarly, Robert M. Chesney, Associate Dean of the University of Texas School of Law, recalled that “Mike was fearless in engaging the hardest and most fraught issues in national security law. He combined his sharp intellect with his practical experience, and made unusually valuable contributions as a result.

In announcing his passing, ONU Dean Richard Bales wrote that Professor Lewis “loved sports, loved his country, loved his family, and loved his work.” Former student and Federalist Society member Rob Luther recounted that “he excelled at everything he attempted and was a role model to the hundreds of students that were fortunate to have him. He’s going to be impossible to replace.” Professor Lewis is survived by his wife and daughter.

Professor Lewis’s notable publications include:

“Battlefield Perspectives on the Laws of War” in The War on Terror and the Laws of War: A Military Perspective, Oxford University Press (2d. ed. 2015)

Drones and Distinction: How IHL Encouraged the Rise of Drones, 44 Geo. J. Int’l. L. 1127 (2013)

Drones and the Boundaries of the Battlefield, 47 Tex. Int’l. L.J. 293 (2012)

A Dark Descent Into Reality: Making the Case for an Objective Definition of Torture, 67 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 77 (2010)