Michael Gerhardt, Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law and Director of the UNC Center on Law and Government, is one of the nation's leading experts on constitutional law. His specialities include the relationship between Congress and the President. He is the author of several books, including The Power of Precedent (Oxford University Press, 2008) and the second editions of The Federal Impeachment Process: A Constitutional and Historical Analysis (University of Chicago Press 2000) and The Federal Appointments Process (Duke University Press 2003). He is also the co-author of each of the three editions of a reader on constitutional theory, and has written more than fifty law review publications on a diverse range of topics in constitutional law, federal jurisdiction, and the legislative process.
Over the past two decades, Professor Gerhardt has advised members of Congress on a range of constitutional issues. As an expert on the federal impeachment process, he served in 1992 as a special consultant to the National Commission on Judicial Discipline and Removal; and in October 1998 he spoke behind closed doors to over 80 members of the House of Representatives about the history of presidential impeachment. He later testified as the only joint witness in the House Judiciary Committee's special hearing on the background and history of impeachment held in conjunction with its consideration of the impeachment of President Clinton. Also, in 1998, Professor Gerhardt was asked by a bipartisan group of members of the House to draft on behalf of himself and two other law professors (Professors Laurence Tribe and William Van Alstyne) a censure resolution that the House Judiciary Committee considered in lieu of approving impeachment articles against President Clinton. In December 2009, Professor Gerhardt testified before a select Committee of the House of Representatives as one of three experts on the question of whether a federal judge may be impeached and removed from office for misconduct committed prior to becoming a federal judge.
From 2003-2005, Professor Gerhardt advised Senate leaders on the constitutionality of the plan known as the "nuclear option" to bar filibusters of judicial nominations. Within this period, he testified in defense of the constitutionality of the filibuster before both the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committees, and twice spoke on this subject to the Democratic Policy Committee of the Senate.
Professor Gerhardt has also consulted extensively with both the White House and senators on judicial selection issues. In 1992-93, he drafted the policy memoranda on judicial selection for President Clinton's transition team. Subsequently, he has participated in the Senate confirmation hearings for five of the nine justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court. In 1994, he served as a special consultant to the White House on the confirmation proceedings for Stephen Breyer to be an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. In the fall of 2005, Professor Gerhardt advised several senators on the nomination of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States. In January 2006, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the nomination of Samuel Alito Jr., as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. In 2009-2010, Professor Gerhardt served as Special Counsel to Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the Senate Judiciary Committee for the nominations of both Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as Associate Justices of the Supreme Court.
Professor Gerhardt frequently participates in academic workshops and colloquia around the country, and is regularly interviewed as an expert on constitutional law by network and cable television, major newspapers, and National Public Radio. He was CNN's full-time impeachment expert during President Clinton's impeachment proceedings.
Professor Gerhardt's honors include distinguished lectures at Princeton University and William & Mary, Drake, Creighton, Cleveland State, and University of Montana Law Schools. In 2004, he was a visiting fellow in the James Madison Program in American Institutions and Ideals at Princeton University. He has previously served as Dean of Case Western Reserve Law School, taught at Wake Forest and William & Mary Law Schools, and been a visiting professor at Cornell and Duke Law Schools. In 2010, Professor Gerhardt was the first recipient of the Law School's Van Hecke-Wettach Award, given once every two years to a faculty member in recognition of an outstanding work of scholarship published as a book. Also, in 2010, Professor Gerhardt served as one of eight faculty fellows in the Institute for Arts and the Humanities at the University of North Carolina, during which time he worked on the manuscript of his next book, The Constitutional Significance of the Forgotten Presidents, to be published by Yale University Press.
Professor Gerhardt received his B.A. from Yale University, his M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and his J.D. from the University of Chicago. After graduation from law school and before entering academia, Professor Gerhardt clerked for two federal judges (Chief Judge Robert McRae of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee and Judge Gilbert Merritt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit), served as Deputy Media Director of Albert Gore, Jr's first Senate campaign, and practiced law in two firms specializing in complex civil and criminal trial and appellate litigation -- Trotter, Bondurant, Hishon & Stephenson in Atlanta and Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin in Washington, D.C.
Professor Gerhardt's teaching interests are varied, including constitutional law, contracts, first amendment, health law, evidence, legislative process, law and economics, and professional responsibility. He is currently teaching classes on constitutional law, legislative process, and Congress & the President. Professor Gerhardt serves as a member of the Planning Board of the Town of Chapel Hill. He is married to Deborah Gerhardt, who also teaches at the law school. They have three sons (Ben, Daniel, and Noah).
- J.D., University of Chicago (1982)
- M.S., London School of Economics and Political Science (1979)
- B.A., Yale University (1978)
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