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 20 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 and 2022 books, Creating the National Pastime: Baseball Transforms Itself, 1903-1953 and Soccer in American Culture: The Beautiful Game’s Struggle For Status, reflect 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


Tort Law and the Construction of Change: Studies in the Inevitability of History (with Kenneth S. Abraham), University of Virginia Press (2022).
Law in American History, Volume 3: 1930-2000, Oxford University Press (2019).
American Legal History: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press (2014).
History and the Constitution: Collected Essays, Carolina Academic Press (2007).
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Oxford University Press (2006).
Tort Law in America: An Intellectual History, Oxford University Press (Expanded ed. 2003).
Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court, Oxford University Press (2000).
The Constitution and the New Deal, Harvard University Press (2000).
The Marshall Court and Cultural Change, 1815-35, Oxford University Press (Abridged ed. 1991).
The American Judicial Tradition: Profiles of Leading American Judges, Oxford University Press (Expanded ed. 1988).
Earl Warren: A Public Life, Oxford University Press (1982).
Tort Law in America: An Intellectual History, Oxford University Press (1 ed. 1980).
Patterns of American Legal Thought, Bobbs-Merrill (1978).

Book Chapters

From the Third to the Fourth Restatement of Foreign Relations: The Rise and Potential Fall of Foreign Affairs Exceptionalism, in The Restatement and Beyond: The Past, Present, and Future of U.S. Foreign Relations Law, Oxford University Press, 23–66 (2020).
Tracing Judicial Roles over Time, in Teaching Legal History: Comparative Perspectives, Wildy, Simonds, & Hill, 257–261 (2014).
The Origins of Modern American Legal History, in Transformations in American Legal History: Law, Ideology and Methods: Essays in Honor of Morton J. Horwitz, Volume II, Harvard University Press, 48–63 (2010).
Introduction, in The Common Law by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, vii (2009).
Introduction, in The Common Law, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, vii-xxxiii (2009).
Oliver Wendell Holmes, in Biographical Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court: The Lives and Legal Philosophies of the Justices, CQ Press, 255–265 (2006).
Free Speech and the Bifurcated Review Project: The “Preferred Position” Cases, in Constitutionalism and American Culture: Writing the New Constitutional History, University Press of Kansas, 99–122 (2002).
Holmes and Free Speech, in Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, Macmillan Reference USA, 1298–1300 (2 ed. 2000).
Analogical Reasoning and Historical Change in Law: The Regulation of Film and Radio Speech, in History, Memory and the Law, University of Michigan Press, 283–317 (1999).
Recovering Coterminous Power Theory: The Lost Dimension of Marshall Court Sovereignty Cases, in Origins of the Federal Judiciary: Essays on the Judiciary Act of 1789, Oxford University Press, 66–105 (1992).
Negligence Theory at its Zenith, in Historic U.S. Court Cases 1690-1990: An Encyclopedia, Garland, 300–304 (1992).
The Origins of Consumer Rights in Tort Law, in Historic U.S. Court Cases 1690-1990: An Encyclopedia, Garland, 297–300 (1992).
Warren Court, 1953-1969, in American Constitutional History: Selections from the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, Macmillan, 279 (1989).
Introduction, in The Traynor Reader, Hastings Law Journal, 1–9 (1987).
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Jr. (1841-1935), in Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, Macmillan, 920–924 (1986).
Warren Court, in Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, Macmillan, 2023–2031 (1 ed. 1986).
Book Review (of A History of American Law by Lawrence M. Friedman), in Essays in Nineteenth-Century American Legal History, Greenwood Press, 45 (1976).
John Marshall Harlan I: The Precursor, in Essays in Nineteenth-Century American Legal History, Greenwood Press, 537 (1976).

Articles & Reviews

The Inward Turn and the Future of Tort Theory (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 14 Journal of Tort Law 245–259 (2021).
Rethinking the Development of Modern Tort Liability (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 101 Boston University Law Review 1289 (2021).
Conceptualizing Tort Law: The Continuous (and Continuing) Struggle (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 80 Maryland Law Review 293–342 (2021).
Cheating in Baseball: Reflections on Electronic Sign-Stealing, 23 The Green Bag Second Series 131–143 (2020).
First Amendment Imperialism and the Constitutionalization of Tort Liability (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 98 Texas Law Review 813–861 (2020).
Five Recommendations (with Sarah Seo), 10 J.L.: Periodical Laboratory of Legal Scholarship 310–320 (2020).
Falsity and the First Amendment, 72 Southern Methodist University Law Review 513–533 (2019).
Looking Backward and Forward at the Suspension Clause (reviewing Amanda L. Tyler, Habeas Corpus in Wartime: From the Tower of London to Guantanamo Bay) 117 Michigan Law Review 1313–1332 (2019).
The Puzzle of the Dignitary Torts (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 104 Cornell Law Review 317–380 (2019).
Torts Without Names, New Torts, and the Future of Liability for Intangible Harm (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 68 American University Law Review 2089–2144 (2019).
Recovering Wagner v. International Railway Company (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 34 Touro Law Review 21–62 (2018).
The Transformation of the Civil Trial and the Emergence of American Tort Law (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 59 Arizona Law Review 431–484 (2017).
Looking Backward: Harvard Law School as Seen from 2016 (reviewing Daniel R. Coquittette & Bruce A. Kimball, On the Battlefield of Merit: Harvard Law School, the First Century) Weekly Standard 34–36 (2016).
Law on Nantucket, 19 The Green Bag Second Series 269–280 (2016).
Intellectual History and Constitutional Decision Making, 101 Virginia Law Review 1165–1178 (2015).
Justice Holmes and the Civil War, 40 Journal of Supreme Court History 314–324 (2015).
The Lost Episode of Gong Lum v. Rice, 18 The Green Bag Second Series 191–205 (2015).
The Emergence and Doctrinal Development of Tort Law, 1870-1930, 11 University of St. Thomas Law Journal 463–527 (2014).
The Evolution of First Amendment Protection for Compelled Commercial Speech, 29 Journal of Law & Politics 481–498 (2014).
The Origins of Civil Rights in America, 64 Case Western Reserve Law Review 755–816 (2014).
Toward a Historical Understanding of Supreme Court Decision-Making, 91 Denver University Law Review Online 201–215 (2014).
On the Other Hand . . . The Judicial Temperament, in Private (reviewing Constance Jordan, ed., Reason and Imagination: The Selected Correspondence of Learned Hand) Weekly Standard 34–37 (2013).
Charles Beard & Progressive Legal Historiography, 29 Constitutional Commentary 349–366 (2013).
Prosser and His Influence (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 6 Journal of Tort Law 27–74 (2013).
The Political Economy of the Original Constitution, 35 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 61–86 (2012).
West Coast Hotel’s Place in American Constitutional History, 122 Yale Law Journal Online 69–83 (2012).
Determining Notoriety in Supreme Court Decisions, 39 Pepperdine Law Review 197–223 (2011).
Recovering the Legal History of the Confederacy, 68 Washington & Lee Law Review 467–554 (2011).
The Lost Internment, 14 The Green Bag Second Series 283–300 (2011).
The Lost Origins of American Judicial Review, 78 George Washington Law Review 1145–1161 (2010).
The Brandeis Effect: Close Study Leads to Deep Admiration for the Justice (reviewing Melvin I. Urofsky, Louis D. Brandeis: A Life) Weekly Standard 28–32 (2009).
Alexander Vassiliev & Alger Hiss, Part 1, 12 The Green Bag Second Series 459–472 (2009).
Alexander Vassiliev & Alger Hiss, Part 2, 13 The Green Bag Second Series 85–101 (2009).
Neglected Justices: Discounting for History, 62 Vanderbilt Law Review 319–348 (2009).
Revisiting the Ideas of the Founding, 77 University of Cincinnati Law Review 969–989 (2009).
A Conversation Among Legal Biographers (with others with), Focus on Legal Studies 1–23 (2008).
The Suspension Clause: English Text, Imperial Contexts, and American Implications (with Paul Halliday), 94 Virginia Law Review 575–714 (2008).
Law Librarians, 11 The Green Bag Second Series 81–97 (2007).
The Free Agency Phenomenon: The Baseball Analogy, 10 The Green Bag Second Series 347–361 (2007).
A Customary International Law of Torts, 41 Valparaiso University Law Review 755–814 (2006).
The Internal Powers of the Chief Justice: The Nineteenth-Century Legacy, 154 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1463–1510 (2006).
Getting Close to H. L. A. Hart, 29 Melbourne University Law Review 317–336 (2005).
Historicizing Judicial Scrutiny, 57 South Carolina Law Review 1–83 (2005).
The Reinstatement of Alger Hiss’s Law License, 8 The Green Bag Second Series 383–391 (2005).
Unpacking the Idea of the Judicial Center, 83 North Carolina Law Review 1089–1186 (2005).
Justices & “Electoral College” Elections (reviewing William H. Rehnquist, Centennial Crisis: The Disputed Election of 1876) 7 The Green Bag Second Series 387–396 (2004).
Alger Hiss’s Campaign for Vindication, 83 Boston University Law Review 1–146 (2003).
Authorized Judicial Biography: A Cautionary Tale, 7 The Green Bag Second Series 71–78 (2003).
Hiss Lecture Chapter Three: Prison, 28 Oklahoma City University Law Review 787–828 (2003).
The Constitutional Journey of Marbury v. Madison, 89 Virginia Law Review 1463–1573 (2003).
Hiss and Holmes, 28 Ohio Northern University Law Review 231–238 (2002).
The Arrival of History in Constitutional Scholarship, 88 Virginia Law Review 485–633 (2002).
Reassessing John Marshall58 The William and Mary Quarterly 673–693 (2001).
Looking at Holmes Looking at Marshall, 7 Massachusetts Legal History 63–80 (2001).
The Unexpected Persistence of Negligence, 1980-2000, 54 Vanderbilt Law Review 1337–1336 (2001).
New York Faces the Millennium, 3 The Green Bag Second Series 161–169 (2000).
Recovering the World of the Marshall Court, 33 John Marshall Law Review 781–821 (2000).
The Alger Hiss Case: Justices Frankfurter & Reed as Character Witnesses, 4 The Green Bag Second Series 63–83 (2000).
The Historical Turn in the Constitutional Law of Foreign Relations, 1 Chicago Journal of International Law 133–140 (2000).
Observations on the Turning of Foreign Affairs Jurisprudence, 70 University of Colorado Law Review 1109–1125 (1999).
The Chancellor’s Ghost, 74 Chicago-Kent Law Review 229–262 (1998).
Investing in Holmes at the Millennium, 110 Harvard Law Review 1049–1054 (1997).
The “Constitutional Revolution” as a Crisis in Adaptivity, 48 Hastings Law Journal 867–912 (1997).
Cabining the Constitutional History of the New Deal in Time, 94 Michigan Law Review 1392–1421 (1996).
The Renaissance of Judicial Biography (reviewing Roger K. Newman, Hugo Black: A Biography) 23 Review of American History 716–722 (1995).
Reading the Guarantee Clause, 65 University of Colorado Law Review 787–806 (1994).
Reconstructing the Constitutional Jurisprudence of Salmon P. Chase, 21 Northern Kentucky Law Review 41–116 (1993).
Revisiting James Bradley Thayer, 88 Northwestern University Law Review 48–83 (1993).
Transforming History in the Postmodern Era, 91 Michigan Law Review 1315–1352 (1993).
Bergin as Teacher, 78 Virginia Law Review 805–812 (1992).
Holmes as Correspondent, 43 Vanderbilt Law Review 1707–1761 (1990).
Would You like to Do Lunch with Holmes?, 61 University of Colorado Law Review 737–747 (1990).
Roundtable Discussion: The Judiciary Act of 1789 (with Roger Ian Abrams et al.), 14 Nova Law Review 269–304 (1989).
Recovering Coterminous Power Theory, 14 Nova Law Review 155–194 (1989).
Revisiting the New Deal Legal Generation, 18 Capital University Law Review 37–56 (1989).
The Marshall Court and International Law: The Piracy Cases, 83 American Journal of International Law 727–735 (1989).
The Parable as Legal Scholarship, 87 Michigan Law Review 1508–1526 (1989).
Recapturing New Deal Lawyers, 102 Harvard Law Review 489–521 (1988).
Tribute to Professor John F. Davis, 47 Maryland Law Review 622–625 (1988).
Review of White, Philosophy, the Federalist, and the Constitution (reviewing Morton White, Philosophy, the Federalist, and the Constitution) 74 Journal of American History 499–500 (1987).
The Studied Ambiguity of Horwitz’s Legal History, 29 William & Mary Law Review 101–112 (1987).
Tort Reform in the Twentieth Century: An Historical Perspective, 32 Villanova Law Review 1265–1298 (1987).
From Realism to Critical Legal Studies: A Truncated Intellectual History, 40 Southwestern Law Review 819–843 (1986).
Imagining the Marshall Court, 1986 Supreme Court Historical Society Yearbook 77–94 (1986).
Looking at Holmes in the Mirror, 4 Law & History Review 439–465 (1986).
Review of Ackerman, Reconstructing American Law (reviewing Bruce Ackerman, Reconstructing American Law) 34 Journal of Legal Education 731–736 (1984).
The Inevitability of Critical Legal Studies, 36 Stanford Law Review 649–672 (1984).
The Working Life of the Marshall Court, 1815-1835, 70 Virginia Law Review 1–52 (1984).
Closing the Cycle, 33 Journal of Legal Education 449–452 (1983).
Review of Samuels & Samuels, Frederic Remington (reviewing Peggy & Harold Samuels, Frederic Remington: A Biography) 69 Journal of American History 1003 (1983).
Tribute: Roger Traynor, 69 Virginia Law Review 1381–1386 (1983).
Researching Oral History Materials: The Case of Earl Warren, 75 Law Library Journal 355–361 (1982).
The Art of Revising History: Revisiting the Marshall Court, 16 Suffolk University Law Review 659–685 (1982).
The Integrity of Holmes’ Jurisprudence, 10 Hofstra Law Review 633–671 (1982).
The Text, Interpretation, and Critical Standards, 60 Texas Law Review 569–586 (1982).
Earl Warren as Jurist, 67 Virginia Law Review 461–551 (1981).
Truth and Interpretation in Legal History, 79 Michigan Law Review 594–615 (1981).
Gilmore’s History (reviewing Grant Gilmore, The Ages of American Law) 6 Review of American History 7–12 (1978).
The Impact of Legal Science on Tort Law, 1880-1910, 78 Columbia Law Review 213–257 (1978).
Constitutional Protection for Personal Lifestyles (with J. Harvie Wilkinson III), 62 Cornell Law Review 563–625 (1977).
The Intellectual Origins of Torts in America, 86 Yale Law Journal 671–693 (1977).
Foreword: Placing the American Revolution, 62 Virginia Law Review 839–842 (1976).
Malpractice by Public Officials (with Susan Davis White) (reviewing University of Georgia Institute of Government, Personal Liability of Government Officials) 28 Tax Executive 389–392 (1976).
The Deliberative Process of the International Court of Justice: A Preliminary Critique and Some Possible Reforms (with Richard B. Lillich), 70 American Journal of International Law 28–40 (1976).
The Path of American Jurisprudence, 124 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1212–1259 (1976).
The Supreme Court’s Public and the Public’s Supreme Court, 52 Virginia Quarterly Review 370–388 (1976).
John Marshall Harlan I: The Precursor, 19 American Journal of Legal History 1–21 (1975).
Taking a Flyer: Leonard Levy on the Nixon Court (reviewing Leonard W. Levy, Against the Law: The Nixon Court and Criminal Justice) 3 Review of American History 394–398 (1975).
Review of Auchincloss, A Writer’s Capital (reviewing Louis Auchincloss, A Writer’s Capital) 63 Georgetown Law Journal 297–303 (1974).
Review of Auchincloss, The Partners (reviewing Louis Auchincloss, The Partners) 60 American Bar Association Journal 1020, 1022 (1974).
Review of White, The Legal Imagination (reviewing James Boyd White, The Legal Imagination: Studies in the Nature of Legal Thought and Expression) 60 Virginia Law Review 374–382 (1974).
Review of Friedman, A History of American Law (reviewing Lawrence M. Friedman, A History of American Law) 59 Virginia Law Review 1130–1141 (1973).
Human Dimensions of Wall Street Fiction, 58 American Bar Association Journal 175–179 (1972).
Some Observations on a Course in Legal History, 23 Journal of Legal Education 440–451 (1971).
The Rise and Fall of Justice Holmes, 39 University of Chicago Law Review 51–77 (1971).

Op-Eds, Blogs, Shorter Works

The Historiographical Context of Revisiting James Bradley Thayer Northwestern University Law Review Online (2020).
Seven Recommendations (with Sarah Seo), 9 Journal of Law 223–232 (2019).
The Current Crisis in American Legal Education, Oxford University Press Blog (January 10, 2014).
The Price of War, Well-Paid, Fredericksburg Free Lance Star (May 27, 2012).
Law School Proposal Does Not Fall under First Amendment, Cavalier Daily 3 (February 19, 1991).
The Moral Dimensions of Tort Law, World & I 483–493 (February, 1989).
Background Books: The Supreme Court, Wilson Quarterly 122–125 (1977).
Personality Affects High Court Decisions, Virginia Law Weekly 1, 3–4 (October 22, 1976).

Current Courses

All Courses

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




Tort Law and the Construction of Change

Featured Scholarship