Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law
- J.D., University of Chicago (1982)
- M.S., London School of Economics and Political Science (1979)
- B.A., Yale University (1978)
Michael Gerhardt is one of the leading constitutional scholars in the nation. His specialties include civil rights, civil liberties, the legislative process, and separation of powers. He has served as special counsel, public commentator, and testified 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 throughout the Senate's
hearings on President George W. Bush's nominations of John Roberts and Samuel
Alito, Jr., to the U.S. Supreme Court. In June 2018, Oxford University Press will publish his primer on the law of impeachment, and later this year the University of Chicago Press will publish 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.
Gerhardt's extensive public service has included advising congressional leaders
and White House officials. 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. He has testified over a dozen times
before major committees in the House and Senate.
Gerhardt is the only legal scholar to have participated in Supreme Court confirmation
hearings for six 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; advised several senators on President Bush's nomination
of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States in 2005; testified as an
expert witness in Justice Samuel Alito's confirmation hearings in 2006; served
as Special Counsel to Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the Senate Judiciary
Committee for the nominations of Sonia Sotomayor (2009) and Elena Kagan (2010) to the the Supreme Court; and served as Special Counsel to the Ranking Member
and Senate Judiciary Committee for the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the
Supreme Court (2017).
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, and 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, Professor Gerhardt was CNN's principal expert on impeachment
throughout President Clinton's impeachment hearings.
many 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
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 judges on the federal district and appellate courts; and he practiced law for two firms specializing in
complex civil and criminal litigation.
In the fall 2018, Professor Gerhardt will be on leave to work on his book, "Lincoln's Mentors," to be published by Harper Collins. In spring 2019, he will teach professional
responsibility and constitutional law. This coming academic year he will also 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 UNC's Faculty Council approved to support the principles of free expression previously formulated by the University of Chicago.
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).
Show All Publications
Dissent in the Senate, 127 YALE L.J. FORUM 728 (2018). [Westlaw]
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).
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]
- CONSTITUTIONAL THEORY: ARGUMENTS AND PERSPECTIVES (with T. Rowe, Jr., S. Griffin and L. Solum) (4th ed.) (Lexis Law Publishing, 2014). [KF4550 .G467 2013]
- THE FORGOTTEN PRESIDENTS: THEIR UNTOLD CONSTITUTIONAL LEGACY (Oxford University Press 2013). [KF5051 .G47 2013]
- THE POWER OF PRECEDENT (Oxford University Press) (Revised paperback ed. 2011, 1st ed. 2008). [KF429 .G47 2008]
- THE FEDERAL APPOINTMENTS PROCESS: A CONSTITUTIONAL AND HISTORICAL ANALYSIS (1st ed., Duke University Press, 2000). [JK731 .G47 2000]
- THE FEDERAL IMPEACHMENT PROCESS: A CONSTITUTIONAL AND HISTORICAL ANALYSIS (2d ed., University of Chicago Press, 2000). [KF4958 .G47 2000 ]