Federal Courts, Criminal Procedure Expert Richard Re To Join Faculty

Academic’s Work Had Supreme Court Talking in 2018
Richard Re

New faculty member Richard Re has won awards for his teaching and scholarship. Photo courtesy of UCLA Law

June 24, 2020

Richard M. Re, a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an expert in criminal procedure, federal courts and constitutional law, will join the University of Virginia School of Law faculty.  

“Richard Re brings his enormous talent to an extremely talented group of public law scholars at the Law School,” Dean Risa Goluboff said. “He has already made significant contributions to major questions of legal reasoning, legal argument and legal interpretation in the United States. His insights will greatly enrich our academic community and enhance the student experience.” 

Re developed his scholarly path after graduating from Yale Law School. He first clerked for Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (now a U.S. Supreme Court justice), then for Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. From those experiences, Re gained an interest in how the courts work and how judicial discretion is applied, he said. He also practiced at a Washington, D.C., law firm, and worked as an Honors Program attorney in the Criminal Appellate Section of the Department of Justice. 

“The time at DOJ was very formative for me because I got to do so many interesting types of criminal procedure work, and a lot of digital search issues came up,” he said. “That kind of directed me to tech issues as a professor.” 

Re said he is excited to be part of the accomplished teaching body, with whom he has preexisting friendships and collegial ties. He anticipates teaching Federal Courts and Criminal Procedure.  

“UVA has a great reputation in both of those areas,” he said. “I don't think there's any school in the country that has as renowned a bench as UVA in the field of fed courts.” 

At UCLA, Re is a faculty co-director of PULSE, the Program on Understanding Law, Science & Evidence. (UCLA Law Dean Jennifer Mnookin, a former UVA Law faculty member, founded the program.) Among the issues he has studied under the aegis of PULSE has been the use of artificial intelligence in judicial decision-making. 

Re has won awards on both the academic and teaching sides, and his work has been recognized at the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In 2016, his article “Narrowing Supreme Court Precedent from Below” won the American Association of Law School’s award for best paper on federal courts by a (then) untenured professor. 

“Whereas most people think lower courts have to strictly follow the best reading of Supreme Court precedent, I suggested that that’s not actually normatively desirable or descriptively what happens in many cases,” he said. “Rather, the lower courts creatively read Supreme Court precedent to have a narrower application than you would think from the best reading of the opinion, and that may have good effects in many cases.” 

Re’s subsequent research garnered attention in 2018 as part of an amicus brief he wrote for the Supreme Court case Hughes v. United States. During oral argument for the case, the justices discussed the brief. At issue was the “Marks rule,” or the idea that, in the absence of a majority court opinion, the narrowest opinion concurring in the judgment is controlling. 

In 2017, Re was selected as Professor of the Year by the graduating class. He said being an engaged teacher is integral to being a successful academic. 

“I get a thrill out of teaching and being a part of people’s careers, before they really launch their careers fully,” he said. “And it's incredible how much I learn from the students and from their questions.” 

In addition to publishing in top law journals, Re is also a member of PrawfsBlog and maintains his own blog, “Re’s Judicata.” 

Re earned a bachelor’s in social studies from Harvard University and an M.Phil. in political thought and intellectual history from the University of Cambridge. 

Re knows two of his future colleagues from his previous education. He attended law school at Yale with Professor Quinn Curtis, and Professor Frederick Schauer was his undergraduate thesis adviser at Harvard. Schauer, he said, has had “a wonderful influence on my career,” including in shaping his thoughts on jurisprudence. 

“I first met Richard Re when, as a Harvard undergraduate, he walked into my office at the Harvard Law School and asked if I would supervise his undergraduate thesis,” Schauer said. “For most of that academic year he came to my office weekly and kept asking for more things to read. Rarely, if ever, have I seen such academic eagerness, and certainly never from an undergraduate.  

“More than 15 years later, I am thrilled to welcome him as a colleague. That he writes so insightfully and influentially about legal reasoning in general, and precedent in particular, both subjects dear to my heart, is especially gratifying. I look forward to learning from him, working with him and just being around his infectious academic enthusiasms.” 

Re is married to fellow UCLA law professor Kristen Eichensehr, who will also be joining the UVA Law faculty. They have family in Washington, D.C., he said. 

Follow Richard Re on Twitter at @RichardMRe

Related Scholarship 

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

Media Contact

Eric Williamson
Associate Director of Communications and Senior Writer

News Highlights