Michael J. Gerhardt

Print This Page (PDF) Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law

Education

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


     Professor 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/or expert witness 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 five 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 book the White House and senators from both parties used as a guide 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.  He is currently working on several books, including a primer on impeachment for Oxford University Press and a study of the American presidency (with Kevin McGuire) for West Publishing.

     Professor 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 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. 

     Professor Gerhardt is the only legal scholar to participate 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; and 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 as Special Counsel to the Ranking Member and the Senate Judiciary Committee for the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court (2017).

Professor Gerhardt regularly participates in academic workshops and colloquium around the country and has published op eds for major newspapers and media outlets, including 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, he was CNN's principal expert on impeachment throughout President Clinton's impeachment hearings.

     His many honors include the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Yale Alumni in 2008, The St. George Tucker Lecturer at the William & Mary Law School in 2003, the Walter Murphy Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University, and twice as the Alpheus Mason Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University.  Professor Gerhardt has twice received UNC Law School's Van Hecke-Wettach Award, given every two years 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, Professor Gerhardt 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 graduation from law school and before entering academia, he clerked for judges on the federal district and appellate courts; and practiced law for two firms specializing in complex civil and criminal litigation.

     During the academic year 2017-18, Professor Gerhardt will teach professional responsibility, constitutional law, and judicial opinion writing; and 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 invited 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 and as a member and later Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee of the UNC faculty. He is married to Deborah Gerhardt, who teaches intellectual property, trademark, copyright, and art law at the law school. They have three sons (Ben, Daniel, and Noah) and a dog (Ari).

 

Selected Publications

Show All Publications

  • 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]
  • THE FORGOTTEN PRESIDENTS: THEIR UNTOLD CONSTITUTIONAL LEGACY (Oxford University Press 2013). [KF5051 .G47 2013]
  • Why Gridlock Matters, 88 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 2107 (2013). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN]
  • Elections Matter, 34 HARV. J.L. & PUB. POL'Y 827 (2011). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN, 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, Hein, BEPress, Document Link]
  • 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 ]
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