Three Law School scholars named to presidential commission on U.S. Supreme Court

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UChicago legal scholars among 36 tasked with examining possible Supreme Court reform

President Joe Biden today named three University of Chicago Law School professors to a bipartisan commission to examine possible reform to the U.S. Supreme Court.

William A. Baude, professor of law and the director of the Law School’s  Constitutional Law Institute ; Alison L. LaCroix, the Robert Newton Reid Professor of Law; and David A. Strauss, the Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law and the faculty director of the Law School’s  Jenner and Block Supreme Court and Appellate Clinic , will serve on the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. Biden was expected to sign an executive order forming the commission today. Michael S. Kang, AB’93 and JD’99, a professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, was also named to the commission.

The 36-member group, which includes legal and other scholars, former federal judges, attorneys who have appeared before the Court, and reform advocates, is tasked with analyzing public debates for and against Supreme Court reform and assessing the merits and legality of particular reform proposals. According to a White House  news release , topics will include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices. Biden’s order directs the group to complete its report within 180 days of its first public meeting.

"Profs. Baude, LaCroix and Strauss are among our nation’s most knowledgeable scholars of Supreme Court history, practices, structure, and jurisprudence, and we are delighted that their voices and expertise will be represented on this important commission," said Thomas J. Miles, dean of the Law School and the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics. "I am deeply proud of all three-and of our alumnus, Michael Kang. I look forward to seeing the Law School’s signature rigor at work in the coming months."

According to the White House release, the commission will hold public meetings to hear the views of other experts, as well as groups and interested individuals with varied perspectives on the issues it will be examining. The commission "is part of the Administration’s commitment to closely study measures to improve the federal judiciary, including those that would expand access the court system," according to the release. The group will be co-chaired by Bob Bauer, professor of practice and distinguished scholar in residence at New York University School of Law and a former White House counsel; and Prof. Cristina Rodriguez of Yale Law School, former deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice.

William A. Baude  teaches federal courts, constitutional law, conflicts of law and the Law School’s "Elements of the Law" course. His most recent articles include "Adjudication Outside Article III," and "Is Quasi-Judicial Immunity Qualified Immunity?" He is also the co-editor of the textbook,  The Constitution of the United States , and is an Affiliated Scholar at the Center for the Study of Constitutional Originalism. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Yale Law School, and a former clerk for then-Judge Michael McConnell and Chief Justice John Roberts. 

Alison L. LaCroix, who is also an associate in the University’s history department, is the author of  The Ideological Origins of American Federalism  (2010). In 2018 she was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for her current book project, The Interbellum Constitution: Union, Commerce, and Slavery From the Long Founding Moment to the Civil War (forthcoming). She teaches constitutional law, legal history, civil procedure, law and linguistics and federal courts.

Before joining the University of Chicago faculty in 2006, she practiced in the litigation department at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York. LaCroix received her BA and JD from Yale University, and her AM and PhD from Harvard University. 

David A. Strauss is the author of  The Living Constitution  (2010) and the co-author of  Democracy and Equality: The Enduring Constitutional Vision of the Warren Court  (2019), and he has written many academic and popular articles on constitutional law and related subjects. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a co-editor of the Supreme Court Review. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard and Georgetown. He has served as an assistant to the solicitor general of the United States, in the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice, and as special counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He has argued 19 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to his current teaching interests-constitutional law, federal jurisdiction, elements of the law, and administrative law-he has taught civil procedure and torts. Strauss graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. In between, he spent two years at Magdalen College, Oxford, on the Marshall Scholarship and received a BPhil in politics from Oxford.

--This story was first published on the Law School website.


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