Lawrence B. Solum

  • William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Douglas D. Drysdale Research Professor of Law

Lawrence B. Solum is an internationally recognized legal theorist who works in constitutional theory, procedure and the philosophy of law. Solum contributes to debates in constitutional theory and normative legal theory. He is especially interested in the intersection of law with the philosophy of language and with moral and political philosophy. His series of articles on constitutional originalism have shaped contemporary thinking about the great debate between originalism and constitutional theory. Solum’s original theory of the fundamental nature and purpose of law, “Virtue Jurisprudence,” has been debated and discussed in Asia, Europe and North America. He also works on problems of law and technology, including Internet governance, copyright policy and patent law. His pathbreaking article, “Legal Personhood for Artificial Intelligences,” published in the early 1990s, is widely acknowledged as far ahead of its time.

Solum received his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and received his B.A. with highest departmental honors in philosophy from the University of California at Los Angeles. While at Harvard, he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. After graduation, he worked for the law firm of Cravath, Swaine, and Moore in New York, and then clerked for Judge William A. Norris of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Prior to joining the UVA Law faculty in 2020, he was a member of the faculty at Georgetown University Law Center, the University of Illinois, the University of San Diego and Loyola Marymount University, and visited at Boston University and the University of Southern California. He regularly teaches Civil Procedure and Constitutional Law. His other teaching includes seminars in constitutional theory and the philosophy of law as well as courses in conflict of laws, federal courts, intellectual property and internet law and governance.

Solum’s books include “Constitutional Theory Arguments and Perspectives,” “Constitutional Originalism,” “法理词典 (The Legal Theory Lexicon),” “Virtue Jurisprudence,” “Moore’s Federal Practice” and “Destruction of Evidence.” He has published more than 80 articles in law reviews and philosophy journals.

He is also the editor of Legal Theory Blog, an influential weblog that focuses on developments in contemporary normative and positive legal theory.

Solum has spoken to the dozens of law faculties, including those at Arizona State University, Boston University, Columbia University, Fordham University, and Notre Dame, among others. He has also participated in conferences, symposia and programs sponsored by Cardozo Law School, Chicago-Kent Law School DePaul Law School and Harvard Law School, among others.

Education

  • J.D.
    Harvard Law School
    1984
  • B.A.
    University of California at Los Angeles
    1981

Books:

Civil Procedure: Principles and Theory (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

Civil Procedure: Cases and Context (with Robert Bone) (Aspen Publishers, forthcoming).

Constitutional Theory: Arguments and Perspectives (with Michael J. Gerhardt, Stephen M. Griffin, and Thomas D. Rowe, Jr.) (LexisNexis, 2013).

Destruction of Evidence (with Jamie S. Gorelick, Stephen Marzen) (Aspen Publishers, 1989 & Cumulative Supp. 1989-2012).

Constitutional Originalism: A Debate (with Robert W. Bennett) (Cornell University Press, 2011).

Virtue Jurisprudence (ed. with Colin Farrelly) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

 

Articles:

“Themes from Fallon on Constitutional Theory” (working paper) (reviewing Richard H. Fallon, Law and Legitimacy in the Supreme Court (2018)).
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Chevron as Construction” (with Cass R. Sunstein) (working paper).
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“The Constraint Principle: Original Meaning and Constitutional Practice” (working paper).
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“Originalism and the Landscape of Contemporary Constitutional Theory,” Problema: Anuario de Filosofía y Teoría del Derecho (forthcoming).

“Cooley’s Constitutional Limitations and Constitutional Originalism,” 18 Geo. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 49 (2020).

“Originalism Versus Living Constitutionalism: The Conceptual Structure of the Great Debate,” 113 Nw. U. L. Rev. 1243 (2019).
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“Artificially Intelligent Law,” BioLaw J., Feb. 2019, at 53.
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“Contractual Comm unication,” 133 Harv. L. Rev. F. 23 (2019).
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“Text over Intent and the Demise of Legislative History” (panel with Thomas W. Merrill, Michael S. Paulsen, Saikrishna Prakash, and Sandra Segal Ikuta), 43 U. Dayton L. Rev. 103 (2018).

“Surprising Originalism: The Regula Lecture,” 9 ConLawNOW 235 (2018).
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“Triangulating Public Meaning: Corpus Linguistics, Immersion, and the Constitutional Record,” 2017 BYU L. Rev. 1621.
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“Virtue as the End of Law: An Aretaic Theory of Legislation,” 9 Jurisprudence 6 (2018).
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“Originalist Theory and Precedent: A Public Meaning Approach,” 33 Const. Comment. 451 (2018) (reviewing Randy J. Kozel, Settled Versus Right: A Theory of Precedent (2017)).
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“Republican Constitutionalism,” 32 Const. Comment. 175 (2017) (reviewing Randy E. Barnett, Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People (2016)).
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“Originalist Methodology,” 84 U. Chi. L. Rev. 269 (2017).
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“The Fixation Thesis: The Role of Historical Fact in Original Meaning,” 91 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1 (2015).
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“Intellectual History as Constitutional Theory,” 101 Va. L. Rev. 1111 (2015).
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“Artificial Meaning,” 89 Wash. L. Rev. 69 (2014).
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“The Positive Foundations of Formalism: False Necessity and American Legal Realism,” 127 Harv. L. Rev. 2464 (2014) (reviewing Lee Epstein, William M. Landes and Richard A. Posner, The Behavior of Federal Judges: A Theoretical and Empirical Study of Rational Choice (2013)).
Article

“How NFIB v. Sebelius Affects the Constitutional Gestalt,” 91 Wash. U. L. Rev. 1 (2013).
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“The Interpretation-Construction Distinction in Patent Law” (with Tun-Jen Chiang), 123 Yale L.J. 530 (2013).
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“The Decision to Uphold the Mandate as Tax Represents a Gestalt Shift in Constitutional Law,” 3 J.L. (3 The Post) 173 (2013).
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“Construction and Constraint: Discussion of Living Originalism,” 7 Jerusalem Rev. Legal Stud. 17 (2013).

“Communicative Content and Legal Content,” 89 Notre Dame L. Rev. 479 (2013).
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“Originalism and the Unwritten Constitution,” 2013 U. Ill. L. Rev. 1935.

“Originalism and Constitutional Construction,” 82 Fordham L. Rev. 453 (2013).
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“Faith and Fidelity: Originalism and the Possibility of Constitutional Redemption,” 91 Tex. L. Rev. 147 (2012) (reviewing Jack M. Balkin, Constitutional Redemption: Political Faith in an Unjust World (2011) and Jack M. Balkin, Living Originalism (2011)).
Article

“Legal Theory Lexicon: Legal Theory, Jurisprudence, and the Philosophy of Law,” 1 J.L. (1 The Post) 417 (2011).
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“The Interpretation-Construction Distinction,” 27 Const. Comment. 95 (2010).
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“Narrative, Normativity, and Causation,” 2010 Mich. St. L. Rev. 597.
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“Questioning Cultural Commons,” 95 Cornell L. Rev. 817 (2010).
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“The Unity of Interpretation,” 90 B.U. L. Rev. 551 (2010).
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“Incorporation and Originalist Theory,” 18 J. Contemp. Legal Issues 409 (2009).
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District of Columbia v. Heller and Originalism,” 103 Nw. U. L. Rev. 923 (2009).
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“Originalism and the Natural Born Citizen Clause,” 107 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 22 (2008); reprinted in 29 Immigr. & Nationality L. Rev. 593 (2008).  
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“Constitutional Possibilities,” 83 Ind. L.J. 307 (2008).
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“Constitutional Texting,” 44 San Diego L. Rev. 123 (2007).
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“A Dialogue on Originalism Occasioned by Bennett's Electoral College Reform Ain't Easy” (with Robert W. Bennett), 101 Nw. U. L. Rev. Colloquy 31 (2006).
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“The Supreme Court in Bondage: Constitutional Stare Decisis, Legal Formalism, and the Future of Unenumerated Rights,” 9 U. Pa. J. Const. L. 155 (2006).
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“Public Legal Reason,” 92 Va. L. Rev. 1449 (2006).
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“Blogging and the Transformation of Legal Scholarship,” 84 Wash. U. L. Rev. 1071 (2006).
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“Download It While It's Hot: Open Access and Legal Scholarship,” 10 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 841 (2006).
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“Pluralism and Public Legal Reason,” 15 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 7 (2006).
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“Judicial Selection, Appointments Gridlock, and the Nuclear Option” (with David S. Law), 15 J. Contemp. Legal Issues 51 (2006).
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“Natural Justice,” 51 Am. J. Juris. 65 (2006).
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“Popular? Constitutionalism?” (with Larry Alexander), 118 Harv. L. Rev. 1594 (2005) (reviewing Larry D. Kramer, The People Themselves: Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review (2004)).
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“The Aretaic Turn in Constitutional Theory,” 70 Brook. L. Rev. 475 (2004).
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“A Tournament of Virtue,” 32 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 1365 (2005).
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“Judicial Selection: Ideology Versus Character,” 26 Cardozo L. Rev. 659 (2005).
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“The Future of Copyright,” 83 Tex. L. Rev. 1137 (2005) (reviewing Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity (2004)).
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“Procedural Justice,” 78 S. Cal. L. Rev. 181 (2004).
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“The Layers Principle: Internet Architecture and the Law” (with Minn Chung), 79 Notre Dame L. Rev. 815 (2004).
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“An Economic Analysis of Domain Name Policy” (with Karl M. Manheim), 25 Hastings Comm. & Ent. L.J. 359 (2003).
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“Virtue Jurisprudence: A Virtue-Centred Theory of Judging,” 34 Metaphilosophy 178 (2003).
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“Congress's Power to Promote the Progress of Science: Eldred v. Ashcroft,” 36 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 1 (2002).
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“The Anthrax Investigation: A Newsgathering and Privacy Panel Discussion” (moderator, with Gary L. Bostwick, Clay Calvert, Rex S. Heinke and Neville L. Johnson), 22 Loy. L.A. Ent. L. Rev. 267 (2002).

“To Our Children's Children's Children: The Problems of Intergenerational Ethics,” 35 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 163 (2001).
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“Divine Commands and Public Reasons: (A Commentary on Audi),” 78 Modern Schoolman 219 (2001).

“The Value of Dissent,” 85 Cornell L. Rev. 859 (2000) (reviewing Steven H. Shiffrin, Dissent, Injustice, and the Meanings of America (1999)).

“Originalism as Transformative Politics,” 63 Tul. L. Rev. 1599 (1989).
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Congressional Testimony:

Nomination of the Honorable Neil M. Gorsuch to Be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States: Hearing Before the S. Comm. on the Judiciary, 115th Cong., Mar. 23, 2017 (statement of Lawrence B. Solum) (CIS No.: 2018-S521-183751); reprinted in 31 Diritto Pubblico Comparato ed Europeo (Online) 575 (2017).
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Book Chapters:

“Analysis: Effect of Judgment and Preclusion” (with Susan Bandes) in 18 Moore's Federal Practice ch. 130-134 (Matthew Bender 3d ed. 1997 and Semiannual Supp. 1998-2020 (with Tom Rowe)).

“Simple-Minded Originalism? Simply Wrong!,” in Heidi M. Hurd ed., Moral Puzzles and Legal Perplexities: Essays on the Influence of Larry Alexander 189 (Cambridge University Press, 2019).

“Originalism and the Invisible Constitution,” in Rosalind Dixon and Adrienne Stone eds., The Invisible Constitution in Comparative Perspective 61 (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

“Virtue Jurisprudence: A Virtue-Centred Theory of Judging,” in Keith Swisher ed., Judicial Ethics 19 (Routledge, 2017).

“Originalism, Hermeneutics, and the Fixation Thesis,” in Brian G. Slocum ed., The Nature of Legal Interpretation: What Jurists Can Learn About Legal Interpretation from Linguistics and Philosophy 130 (University of Chicago Press, 2017).

“Law and Virtue,” in Lorraine Besser-Jones and Michael Slote eds., The Routledge Companion to Virtue Ethics 491 (Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015).

“Confucian Virtue Jurisprudence” (with Linghao Wang), in Amalia Amaya and Ho Hock Lai eds., Law, Virtue and Justice 105 (Hart, 2013).
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“Virtue Jurisprudence: Towards an Aretaic Theory of Law,” in Liesbeth Huppes-Cluysenaer and Nuno M.M.S. Coelho eds., Aristotle and the Philosophy of Law: Theory, Practice and Justice 1 (Springer, 2013).

“What Is Originalism? The Evolution of Contemporary Originalist Theory,” in Grant Huscroft and Bradley W. Miller eds., The Challenge of Originalism: Theories of Constitutional Interpretation 12 (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

“Indeterminacy,” in Dennis Patterson ed., A Companion to Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory 479 (Wiley-Blackwell 2d ed., 2010).

“Models of Internet Governance,” in Lee A. Bygrave and Jon Bing eds., Internet Governance: Infrastructure and Institutions 48 (Oxford University Press, 2009).

“The Aretaic Turn in American Philosophy of Law,” in Francis J. Mootz III ed., On Philosophy in American Law 122 (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

“Natural Justice: An Aretaic Account of the Virtue of Lawfulness,” in Colin Farrelly and Lawrence B. Solum eds., Virtue Jurisprudence 167 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

“A Virtue-Centered Account of Equity and the Rule of Law,” in Colin Farrelly and Lawrence B. Solum eds., Virtue Jurisprudence 142 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

“Originalism as Transformative Politics,” in Francis J. Mootz III ed., Gadamer and Law 109 (Ashgate, 2007).

“Virtue Jurisprudence: A Virtue-Centred Theory of Judging,” in Michael Brady and Duncan Pritchard eds., Moral and Epistemic Virtues 163 (Blackwell Publishing, 2003).

Current Courses

All Courses

Constitutional Law
Civil Procedure

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