The collection includes thousands of documents and items he and his staff accumulated while Synar served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1979 until 1995 and is housed in the congressional archives of the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center at the University of Oklahoma.
In announcing the opening of the collection, Director Cindy Simon Rosenthal stated, “The Synar papers hold a rich and historically significant perspective on a variety of prominent issues, the changing tides of Oklahoma politics, and the fascinating tug-and-pull between Congress and the executive branch. Congressman Synar’s papers reveal the thoughtfulness and sophistication of a passionate legislative craftsman.”
To celebrate the opening, the Center will host a panel discussion at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, in Classroom 1 of the OU College of Law, 300 W. Timberdell Road. Panelists will discuss Synar’s legacy on budget politics and the U.S. Supreme Court case of Bowsher v. Synar, which was argued 30 years ago this month. Synar’s 1986 court challenge to the constitutionality of a plan for deficit reduction won him lasting renown and presaged the budget struggles that continue to this day. The discussion is open to the public and will be followed by a reception at the College of Law, which is co-sponsoring the event.
Panelists will include Ronald M. Peters Jr., founding director of the Center and OU Regents’ Professor of Political Science; Alan B. Morrison, who argued Bowser v. Synar before the Supreme Court and who now serves as the Lerner Family Associate Dean for Public Interest and Public Service Law at George Washington University Law School; Vincent LoVoi, former Synar staff member who participated in the case, co-founder of The Oklahoma Policy Institute and partner at Mimosa Tree Capital Partners; and Glen Krutz, OU vice provost for Academic Initiatives and professor of political science.
Born in Vinita, Oklahoma, in 1950, Synar was raised in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and attended OU. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in 1972 and graduated from the OU College of Law in 1977. Immediately after graduating from law school, Synar campaigned for a seat in the U.S. House, and in 1978 was elected to serve Oklahoma’s second district. He was re-elected several times until losing the 1994 democratic primary run-off election to Virgil Cooper.
Synar’s major accomplishments include his successful challenge to the Gramm-Rudman Act (Bowsher v. Synar), the impeachment trial of U.S. Federal Judge Alcee Hastings, passage of the Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act of 1994, and numerous anti-tobacco bills. In 1995 he was awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. After a short battle with cancer, Synar died on Jan. 9, 1996, in Washington, D.C., at the age of 45.
Beginning April 22, the public may access the Synar collection in the Center’s congressional archives in Monnet Hall, 630 Parrington Oval, on the Norman campus. The archives are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center at OU is a nonpartisan institution devoted to instruction and scholarship related to the U.S. Congress. It houses one of the largest archives of congressional papers in the country, administers the Julian J. Rothbaum lectureship in representative government, and sponsors several other civic education programs. For information about the collection or for accommodations on the basis of disability, please call the Center at (405) 325-6372.