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Reading the best constitutional scholars

"It is not the reading of many books which is necessary to make one wise, but the well-reading of a few, could they be sure to be the best." - Richard Baxter

"Few are sufficiently sensible of the importance of that economy in reading which selects, almost exclusively, the very first order of books. Why should a man, except for some special reason, read an inferior book at the very time he might be reading one of the highest order?" - John Foster

"We should accustom the mind to keep the best company by introducing it only to the best books." - Sydney Smith

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them. - Mark Twain

"Read the great books! That is worth repeating: Read the great books! . . . You should bear in mind why they were written: great books were written to show a great God and a great Christ to the people of God. You must never be tricked into reading lesser books about great subjects when you are perfectly capable of reading great books about great subjects!" - Sinclair Ferguson

In constitutional law, there are many good books, which must be the choice of readers who want to read the best. Gerald Gunther's casebook on constitutional law is described as the bible of constitutional law by many thousands of law students. It became the most widely used constitutional law text in American law schools, greatly shaping the field of constitutional law. "It set the gold standard for casebooks to follow," noted Sullivan, who became co-author of the book's 13th edition, published in 1997, according to a news piece publishied following Gunther's death in 2002. It said: "The late Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. wrote in 1994 that the casebook was "the leading publication in the field, from which a generation of American lawyers have learned constitutional law." In 1990, Casper , then provost of the University of Chicago , said in an interview, "It is quite rare for a casebook to make an independent contribution, but his certainly has. It is a reflective, learned casebook, which places the cases and the problems in a context which is both historical and philosophical and which gives the reader Gunther's own sense that the law is a worthy subject matter, to be taken seriously, and one which is not altogether open to manipulation, by law teacher, student, lawyer or judge." There are many notable constitutional scholars who must be included in the list.

Akhil Amar: A current Sterling Professor of Law at Yale, Akhil Amar was named one of the top 20 contemporary US legal thinkers by a Legal Affairs poll in 2008. He is frequently cited by the Supreme Court, including their landmark decision in 1998 in Clinton v. City of New York, where the presidential line-item veto was ruled unconstitutional.

Barry Friedman: The interaction between the Supreme Court and the people it serves has been at the forefront of Professor Friedman's career, as he noted in a George Washington Law Review article, "Public understandings of constitutional meaning and judicial interpretations of the Constitution interact with one another." His work touches on law, political science, and history, which provides a unique angle for examining the federal court system. Friedman currently serves as a Professor of Law at New York University.

Bruce Ackerman: Named one of the top global thinkers in 2010 by Foreign Policy magazine, Bruce Ackerman is one of the most often cited legal minds in the US. He currently serves as a Sterling Professor at Yale Law. He is a prolific author, with fifteen books and over eighty articles in print.

Cass Sunstein: One of the most cited constitutional law professors, Cass Sunstein is presently on leave from his tenured position as the Felix Frankfurter Professor at Harvard Law. Prior to that he served 27 years as a professor at UC Law. He is an accomplished author, well-respected scholar, and helped co-develop the concept of availability cascades.

Charles Fried: Charles Fried is a law professor at Harvard and former Solicitor General of the United States under President Reagan. His courses cover a wide spectrum of topics, which include labor, criminal, and constitutional law. Though he has no degree in philosophy, many of his published works are focused on ethical reasoning, with one book bearing the simple title, "Right and Wrong."

Cheryl Saunders has specialist interests in Australian and comparative public law, including comparative constitutional law and method, intergovernmental relations and constitutional design and change. She has specialist interests in constitutional law and comparative public law, including federalism and intergovernmental relations and constitutional design and change, on all of which she has written widely. She has recently published The Australian Constitution: A Contextual Analysis (Hart Publishing, 2011) and is presently working on a monograph on comparative constitutional law.

Daniel Farber: Presently the Sho Sato Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, Dan Farber also serves as the Chair of the Energy and Resources Group on campus, as well as the Co-Director of the Center of Law, Energy, and the Environment. He focuses much of his work on environmental law and climate change and has written a number of respected books and articles.

Erwin Chemerinsky: A strong supporter of gun control, gay marriage, and freedom of speech, Erwin Chemerinksy is the founding and active dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law. Prior to his position there, he served at Duke School of Law and University of Southern California Law School. He is a well-respected constitutional scholar and has published a number of books and over a hundred law reviews. He served as a commentator during the OJ Simpson trial.

Eugene Volokh: Professor Eugene Volokh, a native of THE Ukraine, is a UCLA law professor most noted for his expertise on the First and Second Amendments, as well as for his specialty in copyright law. His work has been cited by judicial figures as prominent as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He maintains a blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, and is also an affiliate for the Mayer Brown law firm.

Fali Sam Nariman is a distinguished Indian Constitutional juristand senior advocate to the Supreme Court of India since 1971 and has remained the President of the Bar Association of India since 1991.Nariman is an internationally recognised authority on international arbitration. He is one of India's most distinguished constitutional lawyers and he has argued several leading cases. He remained Additional Solicitor General of India May 1972- June 1975.

Frank Michelman: Frank Michelman is the Robert Walmsley Professor, Emeritus at Harvard Law and is perhaps best well known for his important law review article Property, Utility, and Fairness, which was cited in an important Supreme Court case authorizing a landmark New York City law that prevented the construction of buildings that would detract from city landmarks. His piece looked at economic reasons for just compensation as laid out in the Fifth Amendment takings clause. He's also served as the VP and President of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy.

Glenn Reynolds: Professor at the University of Tennessee, and author of one of the mostly widely read political blogs – Instapundit. Reynolds is a staunch libertarian who most recently gave the keynote at a Harvard Law School symposium on Constitutional Conventions. He has authored a variety of books and has columns in several major newspapers and magazines, including USA Today and Popular Mechanics.

Jack Balkin: Jack Balkin is presently the Knight Professor at Yale Law, where he also serves as director of the Information Society Project, which he founded at Yale in 1997. He coined the term "ideological drift," which looks at how an individual's political beliefs change over time as they are influenced by new ideas, and discusses many theoretical ideas in his numerous books.

Kathleen Sullivan: She was once thought to be on the short list for a Supreme Court nomination to replace David Souter. If Kathleen Sullivan had received a nomination, she would have been the first openly lesbian nominee in US history. She is currently a professor and served as the 11th dean at Stanford Law School. Working with Professor Gerald Gunther, she has co-authored Constitutional Law, which is considered to be a leading text in the field.

Larry Kramer: Though he is on leave until 2014, Professor Kramer served as the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School. He is currently serving as president of the Hewlett Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the country. In addition to his notable works on federalism and the purpose of courts in societal systems, he pioneered well-received reform to the Stanford Law curriculum during his tenure as dean.

Laurence Tribe: Considered by many to be the nation's leading liberal scholar of constitutional law, Laurence Tribe has had an impressive career as a professor at both Harvard Law and Carl M. Loeb University at Harvard. He has taught President Barack Obama, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Kathleen Sullivan (two of whom appear on this list). He is a fierce and vocal supporter of liberal causes, co-founding the American Constitution Society to serve as the counter to the conservative Federalist Society.

Lawrence Lessig: While not wholly focused on constitutional law, Laurence Lessig is often cited for his scholarly views in the area. He currently serves as the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law and the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics there. He's well known for his political activism with a focus on reduced legal restrictions on copyright, trademark, and radio frequency spectrum. He has written on political campaign finance reform, and called for a state-based drive to promote reform of government with a Second Constitutional Convention. He began his career as a conservative, serving as a law clerk for both Richard Posner and Antonin Scalia, though he now identifies as a liberal.

Mahendra Pal Singh (born 15 July 1940), popularly known as M.P. Singh, is a renowned Constitutional Law scholar of India. He is best known amongst students of Constitution of India for being the revising author of V.N. Shukla's Constitution of India a standard textbook for lawyers on Constitution of India. Internationally however, he is more famous amongst scholars of comparative constitutional law and comparative administrative law for his work, German Administrative Law in Common Law Perspective.

Mark Tushnet: Mark Tushnet is a well-regarded scholar of constitutional law and legal history and is currently serving as the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law. Prior to that, he served for years as a professor at Georgetown University Law Center and as a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall between 1972 and 1973. He espouses controversial views in constitutional theory, believing that judicial review ought to be strictly limited. He has co-written three important case books, a number of law reviews, and several books.

Martin Redish: Described in a review for one of his books entitled The Federal Courts in Political Order as being "without a doubt the foremost scholar on issues of federal court jurisdiction in this generation," Martin Redish currently serves as a professor of law and public policy at Northwestern University School of Law. He is an active writer, with over 80 articles and 15 books in print. He has been recognized as the sixteenth most cited legal scholar of all time and has won several awards for teaching excellence.

Michael Dorf: Michael Dorf serves as a professor at Cornell Law and has penned a number of law review articles related to constitutional law, as well as a number of books. He's an active legal blogger and contributor to an e-zine called Verdict and an occasional guest expert in the media, ranging from NPR and The New York Times to The Daily Show.

Owen Fiss: A well-respected Sterling Professor at Yale Law, Owen Fiss is known for his strident advocacy of strong regulation of political campaigns. Earlier in his career he served as a clerk, first for Thurgood Marshall and later for William J. Brennan, Jr. He is a prolific author as well as active in law school programs in Latin America and the Middle East.

Richard Delgado: While not focused on constitutional law, Richard Delgado's work is often cited in related cases because of his focus on free speech and racial equality. He is currently a professor of law at Seattle University School of Law. A prolific author with over 150 journal articles and 27 books, he has received high praise for his writing and has won eight national prizes.

Richard Fallon: A two-time winner of Harvard Law's Sacks-Freund Award (2001, 2006) for teaching excellence, Richard Fallon is serving as the Ralph S. Tyler, Jr. Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard. He has written often on Constitutional Law and Federal Courts Law.

Richard Pildes: Professor Pildes serves as a constitutional law teacher at New York University, where his taught courses including deep looks into democracy, voting, the election process in the US and abroad, and the Constitution in general. He is considered a pioneering figure in the fields of voting rights and disenfranchisement, and his writing on Shaw v. Reno (509 U.S. 630), which dealt with gerrymandering along racial lines, is highly regarded.

Richard Epstein: Richard Epstein is presently the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law. He was selected in a poll as one of the most influential legal thinkers of modern times, and is known for his advocacy of minimal legal regulation. He is also known for his disdain for the two primary parties in national elections.

Robert Post: The current dean as well as a professor of law at Yale Law, Robert Post has authored and edited a number of books focused on constitutional law, the First Amendment, legal history, and equal protection. He is often published in legal journals as well. Prior to his career in academia, he served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.

Ronald Dworkin: The Journal of Legal Studies claims that Ronald Dworkin was the second most-cited legal scholar of the twentieth century. He served as the Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law and Philosophy at New York University. He was well known for his critique of Hart's legal positivism, which can be found in full in his book entitled Law's Empire.

Ronald Rotunda: Ronald Rotunda is a professor of law at Chapman University. Prior to serving as a professor he was a member of Harvard Law Review and served as a clerk to Walter R. Mansfield of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He co-authored a widely respected course book on legal ethics entitled Problems and Materials on Professional Responsibility, as well as a course book on constitutional law, Modern Constitutional Law. He is a prolific author whose works are frequently cited.

Sanford Levinson: A widely acknowledged expert on constitutional law and present professor of government at the University of Texas Law School, Sanford Levinson is perhaps best known for his criticism of the constitution and what he believes is excessive presidential power. His views on the Second Amendment, gay marriage, Supreme Court nominations, and other issues are often quoted.

Subhash C. Kashyap is a former Secretary-General of 7th Lok Sabha, 8th Lok Sabha and 9th Lok Sabha and Lok Sabha Secretariat (Lower House of Parliament of India) from 1984 to 1990. He is well known Political Scientist, expert in Indian Constitution, Constitutional Law, Parliamentary Experts and distinguished scholar. He also headed an International Centre for Parliamentary Documentation,IPU at Geneva till 1983. He was Honorary Constitutional Advisor to the Government of India on Panchayati Raj Laws and Institutions. He is also Recipient of several prestigious awards for the Best Books in Constitution, Law and Political Science. At present Dr. Kashyap is an Honorary Research Professor at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), New Delhi. He was also a Member of the National Commission to Review the Working of Constitution and Chairman of its Drafting and Editorial Committee.

Suzanna Sherry: Recognized as one of the most well-known scholars of constitutional law, Suzanna Sherry is presently a law professor at Vanderbilt Law School. She is a respected author, with more than 75 books and articles, focused in part on federal courts and their procedures.

Vernon Bogdanor is Research Professor at the Institute for Contemporary British History at King's College London, and a Fellow ofBrasenose College, University of Oxford. He is one of Britain's foremost constitutional experts and has written extensively on political and constitutional issues. He is an advocate of constitutional reform including proportional representation, but supports the retention of theBritish Monarchy.

William Eskridge: Frequently cited for his work, primarily in same-sex marriage and the laws targeting gay individuals in the US, William Eskridge is the John A. Garber Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale University. He coauthored a respected and innovative casebook on legislation with Prof. Phillip Frickey. After representing a gay couple in a suit to get their marriage legally recognized in the early 90s, he published a vital casebook and dozens of law review articles supporting and outlining the legal framework to encourage equality for gender and sexual minorities.

Irvine William Eskridge, Yale University

Philip Frickey, University of California

There are others: Richard Pildes (New York University), Charles Fried (Harvard University), Barry Friedman (New York University), and Suzanna Sherry (Vanderbilt University)

Other highly-cited scholars who don't work exclusively in this area are: Richard Epstein (University of Chicago), Ronald Dworkin (New York University); Lawrence Lessig (Stanford University), Ronald Rotunda (George Mason University), Richard Delgado (University of Pittsburgh), Thomas Merrill, Columbia University), Samuel Issacharoff (New York University), Derrick Bell (New York University), Edward Rubin (Vanderbilt University), Randy Barnett (Georgetown University), Douglas Laycock (University of Michigan), and Richard Pierce (George Washington University).

There are some other notable books by the British authors. Albert Venn Dicey (4 February 1835 – 7 April 1922) was probably the first British constitutional theorist, who popularized the concept of the rule of law in Britain and the rest of the English speaking world. His book An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (1885) is a leading constitutional law book.  The principles it expounds are considered part of the uncodified British constitution.

In 1867, another constitutional theorist Walter Bagehot  wrote the The English Constitution.  It explored the nature of the constitution of the United Kingdom , specifically the functioning of parliament and the British monarchy, and the contrasts between British and American government. The book appeared at the same time that British Parliament enacted the Reform Act of 1867, requiring Bagehot to write an extended introduction to the second edition, which appeared in 1872. The book became an instant classic, has been translated into many languages, and is still available in scholarly editions from Offord University Press.

Thomas Erskine May (8 February 1815 – 17 May 1886) was another British constitutional theorist. His most famous work, A Treatise upon the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament (now popularly known as Erskine May: Parliamentary Practice), was first published in 1844. It is informally considered part of the constitution of the Kingdom. The guide is authoritative in many Commonwealth nations nations, often with strong influence on constitutional convention.

William Ivor Jennings (1903 – 1965) was another authority on constitutional law and is author of a definitive book on the workings of the then British constitution. His book on cabinet government is still the best read book on parliamentary system.  

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