October 20, 2003

Venable Partner, Former Indiana Senator Birch Bayh Given Ultimate Honor as Namesake of Indianapolis Federal Building

4 min

INDIANAPOLIS / WASHINGTON (October 20, 2003) – Venable LLP partner and former three-term Indiana SenatorBirch Bayh, author of two Constitutional amendments and the historic Title IX legislation advancing the rights of women in education, will receive a unique honor on October 24 when the 100-year-old U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in downtown Indianapolis is named after him during a dedication ceremony. The building was officially christened theBirch Bayh Federal Building & United States Courthouse by Public Law 108-35, passed by Congress and signed by President Bush on June 23.

“This is a tremendous honor,” said Mr. Bayh, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1962 to 1980. "I still find it hard to believe. The people of Indiana made this all possible by choosing me as their Senator. This honor must be shared by them, and also by the many others, who worked together with me in accomplishing our common goals. When I think about how blessed I have been, the experiences and opportunities I have had, I hope that young Hoosiers, our future citizens, view these efforts as an example of the fact that they too, if they really care, can make a difference in their communities, and for our country."

The building’s museum will house an exhibit highlighting the life and career of Senator Bayh, including a variety of awards, photographs, editorial cartoons, and even gavels used while he chaired the Senate sub-committee for the U.S. Constitution.

“Throughout his career, Senator Bayh always remembered that he was for working people, especially those who were never given a fair chance in life,” current Indiana Congressman Pete Visclosky told the House earlier this year when PL 108-35 was under discussion. “Senator Bayh fought hard for those who wanted an honest day’s work at a living wage in order to support their families. For instance, he fought hard and was successful in obtaining crucial funding for a railroad track rehabilitation program that put thousands of unemployed workers back on the job, and improved the nation’s infrastructure.”

Born January 22, 1928 in Terre Haute, the son of two Indiana school teachers, and grandson of farmers, Senator Bayh farmed his grandparents’ homestead in Shirkieville for more than four decades. Prior to entering the U.S. Senate, he served in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1954 to 1962. As Speaker, he led efforts to re-organize Indiana’s public school system, increase teacher salaries by 50 percent, and substantially expand funding for the state’s universities.

Senator Bayh was the only lawmaker since the Founding Fathers to author two amendments to the U.S. Constitution: theTwenty-fifth Amendment on Presidential disability and Vice Presidential succession, and the Twenty-sixth Amendmentlowering the voting age from 21 to 18.
He also authored the Juvenile Justice Act, which mandates the separation of juvenile offenders from adult prison populations and establishes pivotal programs for the rehabilitation of at-risk youths. He also played a vital role in the drafting and passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. However, he is perhaps most noted for draftingTitle IX to the Higher Education Act, which mandates equal opportunities in academics and athletics for women students and women teachers. Certain provisions in Title IX were challenged this year by a presidential commission which contended that some schools were disproportionately slashing certain male athletic programs to come up to code with the legislation.

“Critics allege that Title IX imposes quotas for women. It does not,” said Senator Bayh, at the time. “A school can comply with Title IX by demonstrating that the percentage of male and female athletes is about the same as the percentage in the student body.”

Senator Bayh is currently a partner in the legislative practice at the Washington-based law firm Venable LLP. He joined in 2001.

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