G. Edward White

  • David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law

G. Edward White joined the Virginia law faculty in 1972 after a clerkship with Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court of the United States and a year as visiting scholar at the American Bar Foundation. He was appointed John B. Minor Professor of Law and History in 1987, and held that chair until 2003, when he became David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law. In 1992, he was appointed to a University Professorship, which he held until 2003. From 1990 until 1992 and from 2001-03, he was the Sullivan & Cromwell Research Professor; from 1994-97 the E. James Kelly Research Professor; and from 1999-2001 the Class of 1963 Research Professor. He has held visiting appointments at New York Law School, William & Mary School of Law, Brooklyn Law School, Arizona College of Law, the London School of Economics and Political Science, the University of Auckland Law School and Harvard Law School. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, and twice a senior fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a fellow of the Society of American Historians, and a member of the American Law Institute. He received the Roger and Madeleine Traynor Faculty Achievement Award in 2008.

White's 18 published books have won numerous honors and awards. These include final listing for the Pulitzer Prize in history, the Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association, the James Willard Hurst Prize from the Law & Society Association, the Littleton-Griswold Prize from the American Historical Association, the Scribes Award and the Association of American Law Schools' Triennial Coif Award. White's books, and two of his scholarly articles, have garnered 17 such honors and awards since 1969.

White was editor of the Studies in Legal History series for the American Society for Legal History and the University of North Carolina Press from 1980-85, and adviser on law manuscripts for Oxford University Press from 1986-96. He served on the Board of Directors of the American Society for Legal History from 1977-79, and on the Board of Editors of the Virginia Quarterly Review from 1980-2002. White has delivered several endowed lectures, including the inaugural John Marshall Lecture, sponsored by the Boston Bar Association; the inaugural Jerome Hall Lecture at Hastings College of Law; the Swinford Lecture, sponsored by the University of Kentucky School of Law and the Kentucky Bar Association; the Keck Lecture at Amherst College; the Rosenthal Lectures at Northwestern University School of Law; the Neesima Lectures at Doshisha University, Japan; the Fulton Lecture at the Chicago School of Law; the Knowlton Distinguished Lecture at the University of South Carolina School of Law; the Hendricks Law and History Lecture at Washington & Lee Law School; the Legal Research Foundation Lecture at the University of Auckland Law School; and the Contextual Lecture at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London. His most recent endowed lecture was the Acker Lecture at Birmingham Southern College in 2017.

White’s 1996 book, Creating the National Pastime: Baseball Transforms Itself, 1903-1953, reflects his life-long participation and interest in athletics. He lettered in four sports in college, formerly coached the Charlottesville High School girls soccer team, and has won a number of state- and citywide tournaments in doubles squash.

Scholarship Profile: Championing the Rebirth of Constitutional History (Virginia Journal 1999)


  • Ph.D.
    Yale University
  • J.D.
    Harvard Law School
  • M.A.
    Yale University
  • B.A.
    Amherst College


Law in American History, Volume 3: 1930-2000 (Oxford University Press, 2019).

Law in American History, Volume 2: From Reconstruction Through the 1920s (Oxford University Press, 2016).

American Legal History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Law in American History: Volume One, From the Colonial Years Through the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Editor, The Common Law by Oliver Wendell Holmes (John Harvard Series, Harvard University Press, 2009).

The American Judicial Tradition: Profiles of Leading American Judges (Oxford University Press, 3d ed. 2007).

History and the Constitution: Collected Essays (Carolina Academic Press, 2007).

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Oxford University Press, 2006).

Alger Hiss’s Looking-Glass Wars (Oxford Press, paperback ed., 2005).

Alger Hiss's Looking-Glass Wars (Oxford University Press, 2004).

Tort Law in America: An Intellectual History (Oxford University Press, 1980; expanded ed. 2003).

The Constitution and the New Deal (Harvard University Press, 2000).

Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford University Press, 1999).

Creating the National Pastime: Baseball Transforms Itself, 1903-1953 (Princeton University Press, 1996).

Intervention and Detachment: Essays in Legal History and Jurisprudence (Oxford University Press, 1994).

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: Law and the Inner Self (Oxford University Press, 1993).

The Marshall Court and Cultural Change, 1815-35 (Macmillan, 1988; abridged ed. Oxford University Press, 1991).

The Eastern Establishment and the Western Experience: The West of Frederic Remington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Owen Wister (Yale, 1968; Texas, 2d ed. 1989).

The American Judicial Tradition: Profiles of Leading American Judges (Oxford University Press, 1976; expanded ed. 1988).

Earl Warren: A Public Life (Oxford University Press, 1982).

Patterns of American Legal Thought (Bobbs-Merrill, 1978).

Book Chapters/Multi-Author Works:

“Tracing Judicial Roles over Time,” in Robert M. Jarvis, ed., Teaching Legal History: Comparative Perspectives 257 (Wildy, Simonds & Hill, 2014).

"The Origins of Modern American Legal History," in Daniel W. Hamilton & Alfred L. Brophy, eds., Transformations in American Legal History: Law, Ideology and Methods: Essays in Honor of Morton J. Horwitz, Volume II 48 (Harvard Law School, 2010).

"Free Speech and the Bifurcated Review Project: The 'Preferred Position' Cases," in Sandra F. VanBurkleo, Kermit L. Hall, & Robert J. Jaczorowski, eds., Constitutionalism and American Culture: Writing the New Constitutional History 99 (University Press of Kansas, 2002).

"Analogical Reasoning and Historical Change in Law: The Regulation of Film and Radio Speech," in Austin Sarat, ed., History, Memory and Law (1999).

"Warren Court," in Leonard W. Levy et al., eds., 4 Encyclopedia of the American Constitution 2023 (Macmillan, 1986). Reprinted in Leonard W. Levy et al., eds., American Constitutional History 279 (Macmillan, 1989).

"Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Jr. (1841-1935)," in Leonard W. Levy et al., eds., 2 Encyclopedia of the American Constitution 920 (Macmillan, 1986).


“Conceptualizing Tort Law: The Continuous (and Continuing) Struggle” (with Kenneth Abraham), 80 Md. L. Rev. 293 (2021).
“Rethinking the Development of Modern Tort Liability” (with Kenneth Abraham), B.U. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2020).

“Cheating in Baseball: Reflections on Electronic Sign-Stealing,” 23 Green Bag 2d 131 (2020).

“The First Amendment and the Constitutionalization of Tort Liability” (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 98 Tex. L. Rev. 813 (2020).

“The Historiographical Context of Revisiting James Bradley Thayer,” 114 Nw. U. Rev. online 148 (2020).

“From the Third to the Fourth Restatement of Foreign Affairs: The Rise and Potential Fall of Foreign Affairs Exceptionalism,” in Sarah H. Cleveland and Paul B. Stephen, eds., The Restatement and Beyond: The Past, Present, and Future of U.S. Foreign Relations Law (Oxford, 2020).

“Falsity and the First Amendment,” 72 S.M.U.  L. Rev. 513 (2019).

“Looking Backward and Forward at the Suspension Clause,” 117 Mich. L. Rev. 1313 (2019).

“Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis D. Brandeis, y la transformacion de la jurisprudencia estadounidenseurante la era progresista” (“Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis D. Brandeis, and the Transformation of American Jurisprudence During the Progressive Era,” in Jose Ramon Cossio, Pablo Mijanos, and Erika Pani, eds., Derecho Y Cambio Social en la Historia (Law and Social Change in History (El Collegio de Mexico, 2019).

"The Puzzle of the Dignitary Torts" (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 104 Cornell L. Rev. 317 (2019).

"Torts Without Names, New Torts, and the Future of Liability for Intangible Harm" (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 68 Am. U. L. Rev. 2089 (2019).

“Recovering Wagner v. International Railway Company” (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 34 Touro L. Rev. 21 (2018).
HeinOnline (PDF)

“The Transformation of the Civil Trial and the Emergence of American Tort Law” (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 59 Ariz. L. Rev. 431 (2017).
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“Law on Nantucket,” 19 Green Bag 2d 269 (2016).

"Intellectual History and Constitutional Decision Making," 101 Va. L. Rev. 1165 (2015).
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"Justice Homes and the Civil War," 40 J. Sup. Ct. Hist. 314 (2015).

"The Lost Episode of Gong Lum v.Rice," 18 Green Bag 2d 191 (2015).

“Charles Beard & Progressive Legal Historiography,” 29 Const. Comment. 349 (2014).

“The Emergence and Doctrinal Development of Tort Law, 1870-1930,” 11 St. Thomas L.J. 463 (2014).

“The Evolution of First Amendment Protection for Compelled Commercial Speech,” 29 J.L. & Pol. 481 (2014).

“The Origins of Civil Rights in America,” 64 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 755 (2014).

“Toward a Historical Understanding of Supreme Court Decision-Making,” 91 Denv. U. L. Rev. Online 201 (2014).

"From the Second Restatements to the Present: The ALI's Recent History and Current Challenges," 16 Green Bag 2d 305 (2013).

"Prosser and His Influence" 6 J. Tort Law 27 (2013) (with Kenneth S. Abraham).

"The Political Economy of the Original Constitution," 35 Harv. J. L. & Pub. Policy 61 (2012).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"West Coast Hotel's Place in American Constitutional History," 122 Yale L.J. Online 69 (2012).

“Determining Notoriety in Supreme Court Decisions,” 39 Pepp. L. Rev. 197 (2011).
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“2010 Hendricks Lecture in Law and History: Recovering the Legal History of the Confederacy,” 68 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 467 (2011).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

“The Lost Internment,” 14 Green Bag 2d 283 (2011).

“The Lost Origins of American Judicial Review,” 78 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 101 (2010).
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"Alexander Vassiliev and Alger Hiss, Part 2," 13 Green Bag 2d 85 (2009).

"Alexander Vassiliev and Alger Hiss, Part 1," 12 Green Bag 2d 459 (2009).

"Revisiting the Ideas of the Founding," 77 U. Cinn. L. Rev. 969 (2009).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Neglected Justices: Discounting for History," 62 Vand. L. Rev. 319 (2009).
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"A Conversation Among Legal Biographers," 23 Focus 1 (2008).

"The Suspension Clause," (with Paul Halliday) 94 Va. L. Rev. 575 (2008)
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)
“The Free Agency Phenomenon: The Baseball Analogy,” 10 Green Bag 2d 347 (2007).

“Law Librarians,” 11 Green Bag 2d 81 (2007).

“A Customary International Law of Torts,” 41 Val. U.L. Rev. 755 (2006).
HeinOnline (PDF)

“The Internal Powers of the Chief Justice: The Nineteenth-Century Legacy,” 154 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1463 (2006).
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“Constitutional Change and the New Deal: The Internalist/Externalist Debate,” 110 Am. Hist. Rev. 1094 (2005).

“Getting Close to H L A Hart,” 29 Melbourne U. L. Rev. 317 (2005) (reviewing Nicola Lacey, A Life of H. L. A. Hart (2004)).

“Historicizing Judicial Scrutiny,” 57 S.C. L. Rev. 1 (2005).
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“The Reinstatement of Alger Hiss’s Law License,” 8 Green Bag 2d 383 (2005).

“Unpacking the Idea of the Judicial Center,” 83 N.C. L. Rev. 1089 (2005).
"Historicizing Judicial Scrutiny," 57 S.C. L. Rev. 1 (2005).
"Constitutional Change and the New Deal: The Internalist/Externalist Debate," 110 Am. Hist. Rev. 1094 (2005).

"The Reinstatement of Alger Hiss's Law License," 8 Green Bag 2d. 145 (2005).

"Getting Close to H.L.A. Hart," 29 Melbourne U. L. Rev. 317 (2005).

"Unpacking the Idea of the Judicial Center," 83 N.C. L. Rev. 1089 (2005).
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"Justices and Electoral College Elections," 7 Green Bag. 2d. 387 (2004).

"Hiss Lecture Chapter Three: Prison," 28 Okla. City U. L. Rev. 787 (2003).
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"The Constitutional Journey of Marbury v. Madison," 89 Va. L. Rev. 1463 (2003).
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"Authorized Judicial Biography: A Cautionary Tale," 7 Green Bag 2d. 71 (2003).
"Alger Hiss's Campaign For Vindication," 83 B.U. L. Rev. 1 (2003).
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"The Arrival of History in Constitutional Scholarship," 88 Va. L. Rev. 485 (2002).
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"Felix Frankfurter's 'Soliloquy' in Ex Parte Quirin: Nazi Sabotage & Constitutional Conundrum," 5 Green Bag 2d 423 (2002).

“Hiss and Holmes,” 28 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 231 (2002).

"Looking at Holmes Looking at Marshall," 7 Mass. L. Hist. 63 (2001).

"Reassessing John Marshall," 58 William & Mary Q. 673 (2001).

"The Unexpected Persistence of Negligence, 1980-2000," 54 Vand. L. Rev. 1337 (2001).

"The Alger Hiss Case: Justices Frankfurter & Reed as Character Witnesses," 4 Green Bag 2d 63 (2000).

"The Historical Turn in the Constitutional Law of Foreign Relations," 1 Chi. J. Int'l L. 133 (2000).

"New York Faces the Millennium," 3 Green Bag (n.s.) 161 (2000).

"Recovering the World of the Marshall Court," 33 J. Marshall L. Rev. 781 (2000).

"Observations on the Turning of Foreign Affairs Jurisprudence," 70 U. Colo. L. Rev. 1109 (1999).

"The Transformation of the Constitutional Regime of Foreign Relations," 85 Va. L. Rev. 1 (1999).

"The Chancellors Ghost," 74 Chi-Kent L. Rev. 229 (1998)

"The American Law Institute and the Triumph of Modernist Jurisprudence," 15 Law & Hist. Rev. 1 (1997).

"The Constitutional Revolution as a Crisis in Adaptivity," 48 Hast. L. J. 867 (1997).

"Investing in Holmes at the Millenium," 110 Harv. L. Rev. 1049 (1997).

"Revisiting Substantive Due Process and Holmes Lochner Dissent," 63 Brooklyn L. Rev. 87 (1997).

"Cabining the Constitutional History of the New Deal in Time (reviewing Leuchtenburg, The Supreme Court Reborn). 94 Mich. L. Rev. 1392 (1996).

"The First Amendment Comes of Age: The Emergence of Free Speech in Twentieth-Century America," 95 Mich. L. Rev. 299 (1996).

"Biographies of Titans: Holmes, Brandeis, and Other Obsessions" (panelist), 70 NYU L. Rev. 677 (1995).

"The Canonization of Holmes and Brandeis: Epistemology and Judicial Reputations," 70 NYU L. Rev. 576 (1995).

"Reading the Guarantee Clause," 65 U. Colo. L. Rev. 787 (1994).

"Reflections on the 'Republican Revival': Interdisciplinary Scholarship in the Legal Academy," 6 Yale J. L. & Human. 1 (1994).

"Reconstructing the Constitutional Jurisprudence of Salmon P. Chase," 21 N. Ky. L. Rev. 41 (1993).

"Revisiting James Bradley Thayer," 88 Nw. U. L. Rev. 48 (1993).

"Bergin as Teacher," 78 Va. L. Rev. 805 (1992).

"Justice Holmes and the Modernization of Free Speech Jurisprudence: The Human Dimension," 80 Cal. L. Rev. 391 (1992).

"Hans Linde as Constitutional Theorist: Judicial Preservation of the Republic," 70 Or. L. Rev. 707 (1991).

"Law School Proposal Does Not Fall under First Amendment," Cavalier Daily, Feb. 19, 1991, at 3.

"Would You Like to Do Lunch with Holmes?" 61 U. Colo. L. Rev. 737 (1990). Excerpt reprinted in Va. L. Sch. Rep., Winter 1991, at 26-29.

"Holmes as Correspondent," 43 Vand. L. Rev. 1707 (1990).

"Holmes's 'Life Plan': Confronting Ambition, Passion, and Powerlessness," 65 NYU L. Rev. 1409 (1990).

"The Marshall Court and International Law: The Piracy Cases," 83 Am. J. Int'l L. 727 (1989).

"The Moral Dimensions of Tort Law," World & I, Feb. 1989, at 483-493.

"Recovering Coterminous Power Theory," 14 Nova L. Rev. 155 (1989).

"Revisiting the New Deal Legal Generation," 18 Cap. U. L. Rev. 37 (1989).

"Roundtable Discussion: The Judiciary Act of 1789" (with others), 14 Nova L. Rev. 269 (1989). Revised version printed in Maeva Marcus, ed., Origins of the Federal Judiciary: Essays on the Judiciary Act of 1789, at 66-105 (Oxford University Press, 1992).

"The Anti-Judge: William O. Douglas and the Ambiguities of Individuality," 74 Va. L. Rev. 17 (1988).

"Chief Justice Marshall, Justice Holmes, and the Discourse of Constitutional Adjudication," 30 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 131 (1988).

"Tribute to Professor John F. Davis," 47 Md. L. Rev. 622 (1988).

"Introduction" to The Traynor Reader, Hastings L. J. 1 (1987).

"The Studied Ambiguity of Horwitz's Legal History," 29 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 101 (1987).

"Tort Reform in the Twentieth Century: An Historical Perspective," 32 Vill. L. Rev. 1265 (1987).

"Felix Frankfurter, the Old Boy Network, and the New Deal: The Placement of Elite Lawyers in Public Service in the 1930s," 39 Ark. L. Rev. 631 (1986).

"From Realism to Critical Legal Studies: A Truncated Intellectual History," 40 Sw. L. J. 819 (1986).

"Imagining the Marshall Court," 1986 Sup. Ct. Hist. Soc'y YB, 77-94.

"Looking at Holmes in the Mirror," 4 Law & Hist. Rev. 439 (1986).

"The Inevitability of Critical Legal Studies," 36 Stan. L. Rev. 649 (1984).

"The Working Life of the Marshall Court, 1815-1835," 70 Va. L. Rev. 1 (1984).

"Closing the Cycle," 33 J. Legal Educ. 449 (1983).

"Tribute: Roger Traynor," 69 Va. L. Rev. 1381 (1983). Reprinted in Va. L. Sch. Rep., Summer 1984, at 33-35.

"The Art of Revising History: Revisiting the Marshall Court," 16 Suffolk U. L. Rev. 659 (1982).

"The Integrity of Holmes' Jurisprudence," 10 Hofstra L. Rev. 633 (1982).

"Researching Oral History Materials: The Case of Earl Warren," 75 Law Libr. J. 355 (1982).

"The Text, Interpretation, and Critical Standards," 60 Tex. L. Rev. 569 (1982).

"Earl Warren as Jurist," 67 Va. L. Rev. 461 (1981).

"Truth and Interpretation in Legal History," 79 Mich. L. Rev. 594 (1981).

"Reflections on the Role of the Supreme Court: The Contemporary Debate and the 'Lessons' of History," 63 Judicature 162 (1979).

"The Unacknowledged Lesson: Earl Warren and the Japanese Relocation Controversy," 55 Va. Q. Rev. 613 (1979).

"The Impact of Legal Science on Tort Law 1880-1910," 78 Colum. L. Rev. 213 (1978).

"Background Books: The Supreme Court," Wilson Q., Spring 1977, at 122-125.

"Constitutional Protection for Personal Life-Styles" (with J. Harvie Wilkinson III), 62 Cornell L. Rev. 563 (1977).

"The Intellectual Origins of Torts in America," 86 Yale L. J. 671 (1977).

"The Deliberative Process of the International Court of Justice: A Preliminary Critique and Some Possible Reforms" (with Richard B. Lillich), 70 Am. J. Int'l L. 28 (1976).

"Foreword: Placing the American Revolution," 62 Va. L. Rev. 839 (1976).

"The Path of American Jurisprudence," 124 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1212 (1976).

"Personality Affects High Court Decisions," Va. L. Wkly., Oct. 22, 1976, at 1, 3-4.

"The Supreme Court's Public and the Public's Supreme Court," 52 Va. Q. Rev. 370 (1976).

"John Marshall Harlan I: The Precursor," 19 Am. J. Legal Hist. 1 (1975). Reprinted in Wythe Holt, ed., Essays in Nineteenth-Century American Legal History 537 (Greenwood Press, 1976).

"Allocating Power between Agencies and Courts: The Legacy of Justice Brandeis," Duke L. J. 195 (1974). Reprinted in 43 ICC Prac. J. 79-122 (1975).

"The Evolution of Reasoned Elaboration: Jurisprudential Criticism and Social Change," 59 Va. L. Rev. 279 (1973).

"From Sociological Jurisprudence to Realism: Jurisprudence and Social Change in Early Twentieth-Century America," 58 Va. L. Rev. 999 (1972).

Book Reviews:

“On the Other Hand . . . The Judicial Temperament, in Private,” Wkly. Standard, Feb. 25, 2013, at 34 (reviewing Constance Jordan, ed., Reason and Imagination: The Selected Correspondence of Learned Hand (2013)).

“Justices & ‘Electoral College’ Elections,” 7 Green Bag 2d 387 (2004) (reviewing William H. Rehnquist, Centennial Crisis: The Disputed Election of 1876 (2004)).

"The Renaissance of Judicial Biography" (reviewing Newman, Hugo Black), 23 Rev. Am. Hist. 716 (1995).

"Transforming History in the Postmodern Era" (reviewing Horwitz, The Transformation of American Law, 1870-1960), 91 Mich. L. Rev. 1315 (1993).

"The Parable as Legal Scholarship" (reviewing Burt, Two Jewish Justices), 87 Mich. L. Rev. 1508 (1989).

"Recapturing New Deal Lawyers" (reviewing Lash, Dealers and Dreamers, and Murphy, Fortas) 102 Harv. L. Rev. 489 (1988).

"Review of White, Philosophy, The Federalist, and the Constitution," 74 J. Am. Hist. 499 (1987).

Review of Ackerman, Reconstructing American Law, 34 J. Legal Educ. 731 (1984).

"Judicial Activism and the Identity of the Legal Profession" (reviewing three books), 67 Judicature 246 (1983).

Review of Samuels & Samuels, Frederic Remington, 69 J. Am. Hist. 1003 (1983).

Review of Auchincloss, The Partners, 60 ABA J. 1020, 1022 (1974).

Review of Auchincloss, A Writer's Capital, 63 Geo. L. J. 297 (1974).

Review of White, The Legal Imagination, 60 Va. L. Rev. 374 (1974).

Review of Friedman, A History of American Law, 59 Va. L. Rev. 1130 (1973). Reprinted in Wythe Holt, ed., Essays in Nineteenth-Century American Legal History 45 (Greenwood Press, 1976).

"Gilmore's History" (reviewing Gilmore, The Ages of American Law), 6 Rev. Am. Hist. 7 (1978).

"Taking a Flyer: Leonard Levy on the Nixon Court" (reviewing Levy, Against the Law) 3 Rev. Am. Hist. 394 (1975). 

Current Courses

All Courses

Constitutional Law Scholarship and the Scholarly Process (seminar)
First Amendment Freedoms
Judicial Role in American History
Mass Media Law




G. Edward White Reflects on 40 Years of Academic Publishing

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