Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law & Director, Center for Law and Government
- J.D., University of Chicago (1982)
- M.S., London School of Economics and Political Science (1979)
- B.A., Yale University (1978)
Michael Gerhardt, Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law and Director of the UNC Center on Law and Government, is one of the nation's leading experts on constitutional law. His specialities include constitutional conflicts between Congress and the President. He is the author of several books, including The Power of Precedent (paperback, Oxford University Press, 2011) and the second editions of The Federal Impeachment Process: A Constitutional and Historical Analysis (University of Chicago Press 2000) and The Federal Appointments Process (Duke University Press 2003). His most recent book is The Forgotten Presidents: Their Untold Constitutional Legacy, published in April 2013 by Oxford University Press. He is the co-author of each of the three editions of a reader on constitutional theory and has written dozens of law review publications on a wide range of constitutional law.
Over the past two decades, Professor Gerhardt has advised congressional leaders on many different matters. As an expert on the federal impeachment process, he served in 1992 as a special consultant to the National Commission on Judicial Discipline and Removal. In October 1998, he spoke behind closed doors to over 80 members of the House of Representatives on the history of presidential impeachment. He later testified as the only joint witness in the House Judiciary Committee's special hearing on the background and history of impeachment held in conjunction with its consideration of the impeachment of President Clinton. In December 2009, Professor Gerhardt testified before a select Committee of the House of Representatives as one of three experts on the question of whether a federal judge may be impeached and removed from office for misconduct committed prior to becoming a federal judge.
From 2003-2005, Professor Gerhardt advised Senate leaders on the constitutionality of the plan known as the "nuclear option" to bar filibusters of judicial nominations. Within this period, he testified in defense of the constitutionality of the filibuster before both the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committees, and he twice spoke on this subject to the Democratic Policy Committee of the Senate.
Professor Gerhardt has also consulted extensively with national leaders on judicial selection issues. In 1992-93, he drafted the policy memoranda on judicial selection for President Clinton's transition team. Subsequently, he has participated in the Senate confirmation hearings for five of the nine justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court. In 1994, he served as a special consultant to the White House on the confirmation proceedings for Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. In the fall of 2005, Professor Gerhardt advised several senators on the nomination of John Roberts as Chief Justice. In January 2006, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the nomination of Samuel Alito Jr., to the Supreme Court. In 2009-2010, Professor Gerhardt served as Special Counsel to Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the Senate Judiciary Committee for the nominations of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the the Supreme Court.
Professor Gerhardt frequently participates in academic workshops and colloquia around the country, and he is regularly interviewed as an expert on constitutional law by network and cable television, major newspapers, and National Public Radio. He was CNN's full-time impeachment expert during President Clinton's impeachment proceedings.
Professor Gerhardt's honors include distinguished lectures at Princeton University and Boston College and at William & Mary, Drake, Creighton, Cleveland State, and University of Montana Law Schools. In 2004, he was a visiting fellow in the James Madison Program in American Institutions and Ideals at Princeton University. He has previously served as Dean of Case Western Reserve Law School, taught at Wake Forest and William & Mary Law Schools, and been a visiting professor at Cornell and Duke Law Schools. In 2010, Professor Gerhardt was the first recipient of the Law School's Van Hecke-Wettach Award, given once every two years to a faculty member in recognition of an outstanding work of scholarship published as a book. Professor Gerhardt has twice been selected as a fellow in 2009 and 2012 at the Institute for Arts and the Humanities at the University of North Carolina.
Professor Gerhardt received his B.A. from Yale University, his M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and his J.D. from the University of Chicago. After graduation from law school and before entering academia, Professor Gerhardt clerked for two federal judges (Chief Judge Robert McRae of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee and Judge Gilbert Merritt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, served as Deputy Media Director of Albert Gore, Jr's first Senate campaign, and practiced law for two firms specializing in complex civil and criminal trial and appellate litigation -- Trotter, Bondurant, Hishon & Stephenson in Atlanta and Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin in Washington, D.C.
This year, Professor Gerhardt is teaching classes on constitutional law, professional responsibility, and judicial opinion writing. He is currently a member of the North Carolina Ethics Committee and the Administration of Justice and Judicial Independence Committees of the North Carolina Bar and of the North Carolina Advisory Committee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He served as a member and later Chair of the university's Appointment, Tenure, and Promotion Committee; and he currently serves on the Executive Committee of UNC's Faculty Council. He is married to Deborah Gerhardt, who also teaches at the law school. They have three sons (Ben, Daniel, and Noah) and a dog (Kelev).
Show All Publications
- THE FORGOTTEN PRESIDENTS: THEIR UNTOLD CONSTITUTIONAL LEGACY (Oxford University Press 2013).
Barack Obama, in THE PRESIDENTS AND THE CONSTITUTION (Ken Gormley, ed.) (forthcoming 2012)
Why Gridlock is Good, __NOTRE DAME L. REV.__ (forthcoming 2012).
Elections Matter, 34 HARV. J.L. & PUB. POL'Y 827 (2011). [Westlaw, Hein]
- THE POWER OF PRECEDENT (Oxford University Press) (Revised paperback ed. 2011, 1st ed. 2008). [KF429 .G47 2008]
Is the Filibuster Constitutional? (with J. Chafetz), 158 U. PA. L. REV. PENNumbra 245 (2010). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN, BEPress, Document Link]
The Story of Bush v. Gore: The Paradox of Judicial Activism, in CONSTITUTIONAL LAW STORIES (2d. ed. Foundation Press, 2009). [KF4549 .C658 2009]
- CONSTITUTIONAL THEORY: ARGUMENTS AND PERSPECTIVES (with T. Rowe, Jr. and S. Griffin) (3rd ed., Lexis Law Publishing, 2007). [KF4550 .G467 2007 ]
- 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 ]