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Dallin H. Oaks
Full name Dallin Harris Oaks
Born August 12, 1932 (1932-08-12) (age 77)
Place of birth Provo, Utah
LDS Church Apostle
Called by Spencer W. Kimball
Ordained May 3, 1984 (aged 51)
Ordination reason Deaths of LeGrand Richards and Mark E. Petersen[1]
LDS Church General Authority
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Called by Spencer W. Kimball
Start of term April 7, 1984 (aged 51)
Oaks (far right) with LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson (left) and US President Barack Obama (center) in the Oval Office on 20 July 2009, presenting a personal volume of President Obama's family history as a gift from the LDS Church.

Dallin Harris Oaks (born August 12, 1932) is an American attorney, jurist and religious leader. Since 1984, he has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He is a former professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School, a former president of Brigham Young University, and a former justice of the Utah Supreme Court. In the 1970s and 1980s, Republican U.S. presidential administrations considered him as a potential nominee to the United States Supreme Court. Currently, he is the fifth most senior apostle among the ranks of the Church.


Biographical background

Oaks was born in Provo, Utah to Stella Harris and Dr. Lloyd E. Oaks. His father died when Dallin was eight years old.

He graduated from Brigham Young High School in 1950, Brigham Young University in accounting[2] in 1954, and the University of Chicago Law School in 1957.

After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School, Oaks clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court from 1957 to 1958. After his clerkship he practiced at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago. Oaks left Kirkland & Ellis to become a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. During part of his time on the faculty of the Law School, Oaks served as interim dean. Oaks left the Law School upon being appointed President at Brigham Young University.

Oaks would also serve five years as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)[2] (1979–1984)[3] and eight years as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Polynesian Cultural Center.[2]

President of Brigham Young University

Oaks served as president of Brigham Young University from 1971–1980.[2] As president of Brigham Young University, Oaks oversaw the start of the J. Reuben Clark Law School and the Graduate Business School. Although university enrollment continued to grow and new buildings were added, neither were done at the pace of the previous administration under Ernest L. Wilkinson.

Upon leaving Brigham Young University, Oaks was appointed as a justice in the Utah Supreme Court. He would serve in this capacity from 1980 to 1984, when he resigned to accept a call by the LDS Church to become a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.[2]

Considered as Supreme Court nominee

In 1976, Oaks was listed by U.S. attorney general Edward H. Levi among potential Gerald Ford Supreme Court candidates.[4] In 1981, he was closely considered by the Ronald Reagan administration as a Supreme Court nominee.[5][6]

LDS Church apostle

On May 3, 1984, Oaks was ordained an apostle and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the LDS Church. He was the youngest apostle by years at that time, and the youngest man to be called since Thomas S. Monson, who had been ordained over twenty years before. As a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Oaks is accepted by the church as a prophet, seer, and revelator.

Oaks had been sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve on April 7, 1984, along with fellow quorum member Russell M. Nelson, however his ordination occurred almost a month later to allow him time to resign from his judgeship.[7]

In 2002-2004, Oaks was sent to personally preside over the church area in the Philippines, normally the task of a member of the Quorums of the Seventy, another quorum of church general authority.


Oaks was married to June Dixon Oaks on June 24, 1952. She died on July 21, 1998. They had six children. Among these is Dallin D. Oaks, a linguistics professor at Brigham Young University,[8] and Jenny Oaks Baker, a musician and artist. On August 25, 2000, Dallin H. Oaks married Kristen Meredith McMain in the Salt Lake Temple.

Scholarly research and notable opinions

As a law professor, Oaks focused his scholarly research on the writ of habeas corpus and the exclusionary rule. In California v. Minjares,[9] Justice William Rehnquist, in a dissenting opinion, wrote "[t]he most comprehensive study on the exclusionary rule is probably that done by Dallin Oaks for the American Bar Foundation in 1970.[10] According to this article, it is an open question whether the exclusionary rule deters the police from violating Fourth Amendment protections of individuals.

As a Utah Supreme Court Justice from 1980 to 1984, Oaks authored opinions on a variety of topics. In In Re J. P.,[11] a proceeding was instituted on a petition of the Division of Family Services to terminate parental rights of natural mother. Oaks wrote that a parent has a fundamental right protected by the Constitution to sustain his relationship with his child but that a parent can nevertheless be deprived of parental rights upon a showing of unfitness, abandonment, and substantial neglect.

In KUTV, Inc. v. Conder,[12] media representatives sought review by appeal and by a writ of prohibition of an order barring the media from using the words "Sugarhouse rapist" or disseminating any information on past convictions of defendant during the pendency of a criminal trial. Oaks, in the opinion delivered by the court, held that the order barring the media from using the words "Sugarhouse rapist" or disseminating any information on past convictions of defendant during the pendency of the criminal trial was invalid on the ground that it was not accompanied by the procedural formalities required for the issuance of such an order.

In Wells v. Children's Aid Soc. of Utah,[13] an unwed minor father brought action through a guardian ad litem seeking custody of a newborn child that had been released to state adoption agency and subsequently to adoptive parents, after the father had failed to make timely filing of his acknowledgment of paternity as required by statute. Oaks, writing the opinion for the court, held that statute specifying procedure for terminating parental rights of unwed fathers was constitutional under due process clause of United States Constitution.


See also


  1. ^ Oaks and Russell M. Nelson were ordained to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles caused by the deaths of Richards and Petersen.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Dallin H. Oaks: Judge, University President, Apostle". Brigham Young High School Class of 1950. Brigham Young High School Alumni. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  3. ^ "Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles". Ensign: pp. 89–90. May 1984. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  4. ^ David Alistair Yalof, Pursuit of Justices: Presidential Politics and the Selection of Supreme Court Justices (2001), p. 127.
  5. ^ "LDS apostle was studied for '81 court", Salt Lake Tribune, August 18, 2005
  6. ^ The position was ultimately filled by Sandra Day O'Connor, fulfilling a campaign promise made by Reagan to appoint a woman to the court.
  7. ^ Gordon B. Hinckley, "Sustaining of Church Officers", Ensign, May 1984 , p. 4.
  8. ^
  9. ^ 443 U.S. 916 (1979).
  10. ^ Dallin H. Oaks, "Studying the Exclusionary Rule in Search and Seizure", 37 University of Chicago Law Review 665 (1970).
  11. ^ 648 P.2d 1364 (Utah 1982)
  12. ^ 668 P.2d 513 (Utah 1983).
  13. ^ 681 P.2d 199 (Utah 1984)


External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Ernest L. Wilkinson
President of BYU
Succeeded by
Jeffrey R. Holland
Religious titles
Preceded by
Russell M. Nelson
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
May 3, 1984–
Succeeded by
M. Russell Ballard

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