Richard H. Pildes is one of the nation’s leading scholars of constitutional law and a specialist in legal issues affecting democracy. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute, and has received recognition as a Guggenheim Fellow and a Carnegie Scholar. His acclaimed casebook, The Law of Democracy: Legal Structure of the Political Process (now in its fourth edition), helped create an entirely new field of study in the law schools. The Law of Democracy systematically explores legal and policy issues concerning the structure of democratic elections and institutions, such as the role of money in politics, the design of election districts, the regulation of political parties, the design of voting systems, the representation of minority interests in democratic institutions, and similar issues. He has written extensively on the rise of political polarization in the United States, the Voting Rights Act, the dysfunction of America’s political processes, the role of the Supreme Court in overseeing American democracy, the powers of the American President and Congress, and he has criticized excessively “romantic” understandings of democracy. In addition to his scholarship on these issues, he has written on national-security law, the design of the regulatory state, and American constitutional history and theory.
Respect for his expertise in these areas is reflected in frequent citations of his work in U.S. Supreme Court opinions, the translation of his work into many languages, and his frequent public lectures and appearances around the world, including his nomination with the NBC News Team for an Emmy Award for coverage of the 2000 Presidential election litigation.
In addition to his scholarship, Professor Pildes plays an active role litigating in these areas. He has won two cases before the United States Supreme Court, including a 2015 victory in Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama, a case involving race and redistricting. He served as counsel to a group of former chairmen of the Securities and Exchange Commission in litigation defending the constitutionality of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act; as counsel in election litigation to the Puerto Rico Electoral Commission; as counsel to the government of Puerto Rico; as a federal court-appointed independent expert on voting rights litigation; and as counsel in successful Supreme Court litigation that challenged the way the United States Tax Court operated. He was also a senior legal advisor to the 2008 and 2012 campaigns of President Obama.
Pildes received his A.B. in physical chemistry summa cum laude from Princeton, and his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard, where he served as Supreme Court Note Editor on the Harvard Law Review. He clerked for Judge Abner J. Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court. After practicing law in Boston, he began his academic career at the University of Michigan Law School, before joining the NYU School of Law in 2001.
- JD, Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, 1983
- AB (Chemistry), Princeton University, summa cum laude, 1979
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Short video featuring Gary Lawson, Richard Pildes, and Theodore Olson
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