Michael J. Gerhardt

Print This Page (PDF) Burton Craige Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence


  • J.D., University of Chicago (1982)
  • M.S., London School of Economics and Political Science (1979)
  • B.A., Yale University (1978)

     Michael Gerhardt is Burton Craige Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence and one of the leading constitutional scholars in the nation.  He has served as special counsel, public commentator, and expert witness before Congress on all the major constitutional conflicts between presidents and Congress over the past 25 years.

     Professor Gerhardt has written dozens of law review articles and several books. The Financial Times named his book, "The Forgotten Presidents: Their Untold Constitutional Legacy" (Oxford University Press, 2013), as one of its Best Non-Fiction Books of 2013. Professor Gerhardt is co-editor (with Eric Lane and the late Abner Mikva) of the Fourth Edition of the casebook, The Legislative Process, published by Aspen Law and Business. The New York Times described his book on the federal appointments process as the principal guide that the White House and senators from both parties followed during the Senate's consideration of President George W. Bush's nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, Jr., to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In July 2018, Oxford University Press published his primer on the law of impeachment, "Impeachment:  What Everyone Needs to Know".  In the summer of 2019, the University of Chicago Press published the third edition of his book, "The Federal Impeachment Process:  A Constitutional and Historical Analysis," which is regarded as the authoritative modern treatise on the subject.  He is currently working on a study of the American presidency (with Kevin McGuire) for West Publishing.

     Professor Gerhardt's extensive public service has included advising members of Congress and White House officials on many constitutional issues.  He served as one of the eight members of President-Elect Bill Clinton's Justice Department transition team and drafted the administration's judicial selection policy.  During the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton in 1997-98, Professor Gerhardt was the only expert invited to speak behind closed doors to the entire House of Representatives, and he was the only joint witness to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.  On more than a dozen other occasions, he has testified before major committees in the House and Senate. 

     Professor Gerhardt is the only legal scholar to have participated in Supreme Court confirmation hearings for seven of the nine justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court. He served as Special Counsel to the Clinton White House on Justice Stephen Breyer's confirmation in 1993; advised several senators on President Bush's nomination of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States in 2005; and testified as an expert witness in Justice Samuel Alito's confirmation hearings in 2006.  He served as Special Counsel to Chairman Patrick Leahy and the Senate Judiciary Committee for the nominations of Sonia Sotomayor (2009) and Elena Kagan (2010) to the the Supreme Court and to the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee for the nominations of Neil Gorsuch (2017) and Brett Kavanaugh (2018) to the Supreme Court.  In 2016, he advised senators on President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

   Professor Gerhardt regularly participates in academic workshops and colloquium around the country.  He has published op eds for major media outlets, such as the New York Times, Slate, Washington Post, Scotusblog, Time and Newsweek magazines, and the LA Times. He has been regularly interviewed as an expert on constitutional law by all major media outlets, including National Public Radio. In 1998-99, he was CNN's principal expert on impeachment throughout President Clinton's impeachment hearings.

           Professor Gerhard's honors include the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Yale Alumni in 2008 and selection as The St. George Tucker Lecturer at the William & Mary Law School in 2003, the Walter Murphy Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University, and the Alpheus Mason Distinguished Lecturer twice at Princeton University.  Professor Gerhardt has twice received UNC Law School's Van Hecke-Wettach Award in recognition of an outstanding book written by a faculty member. In 2004, he was a visiting fellow in the James Madison Program in American Institutions and Ideals at Princeton University. The Institute for the Arts and Humanities at UNC-Chapel Hill selected Professor Gerhardt as a fellow in both its leadership and scholarship programs. In 2015, he became the first independent scholar to be chosen by the American Law Division of the Congressional Research Service to assist with updating and revising the official United States Constitution Annotated

     Professor Gerhardt received a B.A. from Yale University, M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and J.D. from the University of Chicago. After graduating law school and before entering academia, he clerked for federal judges on the federal district and appellate courts and then practiced law for two firms specializing in complex civil and criminal litigation.

         In the fall 2019, Professor Gerhardt will teach professional responsibility and a seminar on Judicial Opinion Writing. During the 2019-2020 academic year, he will continue to serve as the inaugural Richard Beeman Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Scholar in Residence and Director of Content at the National Constitution Center. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and has served on several major committees of the North Carolina Bar Association.  He has been a member of the North Carolina Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights since 2010. He has served on several major university committees, including as a member and later Chair of the university's Promotion, Appointment, and Tenure Committee; as a member and later Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee of the UNC faculty; and as a member of a special Committee  appointed by UNC's Faculty Chair that drafted a proposal that the UNC Faculty Council approved to support the principles of free expression formulated by the University of Chicago.  

    He is married to Deborah Gerhardt, who teaches intellectual property, trademark, copyright, and art law at the law school and arts entrepreneurship in the college. They have three sons (Ben, Daniel, and Noah) and two dogs (Ari and Lyla).


Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Selected Publications

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  • Dissent in the Senate, 127 YALE L.J. FORUM 728 (2018). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • Majority Rule and the Future of Judicial Selection  (with R. W. Painter), 2017 WIS. L. REV. 263 (2017). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • Response: Practice Makes Precedent, 131 HARV. L. REV. F. 32 (2017).
    [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • Barack Obama, in THE PRESIDENTS AND THE CONSTITUTION (Ken Gormley, ed.) (2016) [KF5053 .P75 2016]
  • The Politics of Early Justice, Federal Judicial Selection, 1789-1861 (with M. Stein) 100 IOWA L. REV. 551 (2015). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN, Hein, BEPress]
  • CONSTITUTIONAL THEORY: ARGUMENTS AND PERSPECTIVES (with T. Rowe, Jr., S. Griffin and L. Solum) (4th ed.) (Lexis Law Publishing, 2014). [KF4550 .G467 2013]
  • THE POWER OF PRECEDENT (Oxford University Press) (Revised paperback ed. 2011, 1st ed. 2008). [KF429 .G47 2008]
  • THE FEDERAL IMPEACHMENT PROCESS: A CONSTITUTIONAL AND HISTORICAL ANALYSIS (2d ed., University of Chicago Press, 2000). [KF4958 .G47 2000 ]
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