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Comparative Constitutional Law and Visiting Professors

Yes, I admit it: I read Brian Leiter's Blog. While it might not be as hard to admit that as it is to admit that I also read Above the Law, not all law professors freely admit that they read Leiter's Blog.

But of the many sources of helpful information it provides, one is information about visiting faculty at the highest-rated American law schools. A review of the list of next year's visitors suggests several people with some level of interest in comparative constitutional law visiting at the highest-rated law schools.

A preliminary note: I know from talking to many law professors, including many of the contributors to this blog, that having someone in your field hired by a highly-ranked law school provides a degree of legitimacy and recognition to your field. So Yale's decision to hire Alec Stone Sweet, Harvard's decision to hire Mark Tushnet (now writing a lot about comparative constitutional law, even if he has written about other topics for many years), NYU's decision to hire Mattias Kumm, Chicago's decision to hire our own Rosalind Dixon and Tom Ginsburg, and so on, were major legitimating moments for the field of comparative constitutional law.

Leiter's list of visitors for next year includes many with interest in comparative constitutional law (my apologies if I miss some names, particularly from the group of foreign visitors with whose work I am less familiar): Cristina Rodriguez and Kim Lane Scheppele visiting at Yale, Kumm, Maximo Langer (more interested in comparative criminal law), Sanford Levinson and Rodriguez at Harvard, Youngjae Lee at Chicago, Daphne Barak-Erez at Stanford, and Jacqueline Ross (more interested in comparative criminal law) at NYU.


  1. Agreed, although the entire Leiter thing, interesting as it may be, helps enshrine the obsessive ranking culture (not known to many non-business friendly disciplines), as well as a Rome-like Americo-centrism more generally. It thus may be viewed as antithetical to genuine comparativism and cosmopolitanism. The majority of contributors to this blog, for example, teach outside of the United States and thus do not enjoy full citizenship in the Leiter universe. Does that make any of us less of a scholar, much like the Canadian, Spanish or German constitutions are often viewed by many US professors as less than the “real thing”? I doubt it. Either way, some of the phenomenon may also be explained by the emergence of large LLM programs in some of these schools (NYU, Harvard), which requires non-trivial teaching and supervision capacity in matters non-American.

  2. Ran Hirschl, I'm curious: are you nuts? It's a blog. Its main audience is American law schools. You need to find a more credible villain, or grow up.

  3. Hey, why the agressive tone? "Nuts"? "Grow up?" "Villain"? You? Where do you get that from? Never said any of that, let alone never used any such words. Seems like an over-reaction, no? I just raised a concern with a predominantly American ranking. That's it. And en route, was trying to explain the rise in "comparative" appointments in American law schools.

  4. You wrote that Leiter's blog "may be viewed as antithetical to genuine comparativism and cosmopolitanism. The majority of contributors to this blog, for example, teach outside of the United States and thus do not enjoy full citizenship in the Leiter universe."

    That's pretty weird! As I said, it's just a blog, with info for an American legal academic audience. You read a lot into it, a lot that isn't there. So why?

  5. That makes a lot of sense within the confines of your blog's targeted audience. I still never used any less than dazzling adjectives to describe you as a person or as a scholar. Your blog is not you. But more to the point, I joined this young blog as I thought it would be devoted to comparative constitutional law per se, not to American legal academic rankings, important to some as they may be. Am hopeful this will indeed be the case. So please take my comments on cosmopolitanism in that context alone.

  6. Fair enough, Ran, thank you for your reply. I look forward to reading this blog to see how it develops.


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