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Nathaniel Persily
James B. McClatchy Professor of Law

Biography 

An award-winning teacher and nationally recognized constitutional law expert, Professor Persily, JD '98, focuses on the law of democracy, addressing issues such as voting rights, political parties, campaign finance, and redistricting. A sought-after nonpartisan voice in voting rights, he has served as a court-appointed expert to draw legislative districting plans for Georgia, Maryland, and New York and as special master for the redistricting of Connecticut’s congressional districts. Most recently, he also served as the Senior Research Director for the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, a bipartisan commission created by the President to deal with the long lines at the polling place and other administrative problems witnessed in the 2012 election.  The Report of the Commission is available at www.supportthevoter.gov.

His other principal area of scholarly interest concerns American public opinion toward various constitutional controversies. He designed the Constitutional Attitudes Survey, a national public opinion poll executed in both 2009 and 2010. The survey (available here) includes an array of questions concerning attitudes toward the Supreme Court, constitutional interpretation, and specific constitutional controversies. Professor Persily has edited three books. The first, Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy (Oxford, 2008), examines the effects of Supreme Court decisions on American public opinion and in areas such as desegregation, criminal rights, abortion, gay rights, federalism, school prayer, and the death penalty. The second, The Health Care Case: The Supreme Court’s Decision and Its Implications (Oxford Press, 2013), presents expert analysis of NFIB v. Sebelius from the nation’s leading professors of constitutional and health law. And the third, Solutions to Polarization (Cambridge Press, 2015) sets forth an array of proposals to deal with the hyper-partisanship and gridlock that plague the current American political system.

Persily has also published dozens of articles in both scholarly publications and popular media on the legal regulation of political parties, on issues surrounding the census and redistricting process, on voting rights, and on campaign finance reform. Prior to joining the faculty at Stanford Law School in July 2013, Professor Persily was the Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Columbia Law School, and prior to that he was Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania.  Professor Persily has also been a visiting professor at Harvard, NYU, Princeton, the University of Amsterdam, and the University of Melbourne.  He received a combined B.A./M.A. in political science from Yale (1992), his J.D. from Stanford (1998) where he was President of Volume 50 of the Stanford Law Review, and his Ph.D. in Political Science from U.C. Berkeley (2002).

Key Works