Thomas W. Merrill

Prof. Thomas W. Merrill

Charles Evans Hughes Professor of Law, Columbia Law School

Topics: Environmental Law & Property Rights • Federalism & Separation of Powers

Professor Merrill writes widely in the fields of property and administrative law. In property, he has authored, with Henry Smith of Harvard, a series of articles relating the structure of property rights to information costs (“Optimal Standardization in the Law of Property: The Numerus Clausus Principle," Yale Law Journal 2000), as well as a leading casebook (“Property: Principles and Policies,” 2012); a series of studies, with Joseph Kearney of Marquette, on the role of public property rights in the development of the Chicago lakefront (“The Origins of the American Public Trust Doctrine: What Really Happened in Illinois Central,”U. Chicago L. Rev. 2004); and a variety of writings on constitutional property (“Property: Takings (with David Dana 2002);" “The Landscape of Constitutional Property,” Virginia L. Rev.2000); “The Economics of Public Use,” Cornell L. Rev. 1986). In administrative law, he has written a number of pieces about the history of administrative law (“Article III, Agency Adjudication, and the Origins of the Appellate Review Model of Administrative law,” Columbia L. R. 2011), and about judicial review of agency interpretations of law (“Chevron’s Domain,"Geo. L. J. (with Kristin Hickman 2001)).

Professor Merrill is a graduate of Grinnell College (1971) and Oxford University (1973), where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and the University of Chicago Law School (1977). He clerked for the Hon. David L. Bazelon, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and for the Hon. Harry A. Blackmun, U.S. Supreme Court. From 1987-1990 he was Deputy Solicitor General, U.S. Department of Justice. Professor Merrill has previously taught at Northwestern Law School (1981-2003) and at Yale Law School (2008-2010). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.



  • University of Chicago, J.D., 1977, cum laude
  • Oxford University, B.A., 1973, first-class honors
  • Grinnell College, B.A., 1971, with honors
2017 National Student Symposium - "The First Amendment in Contemporary Society"
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2016 National Lawyers Convention
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2016 National Lawyers Convention

The Jurisprudence and Legacy of Justice Scalia

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2014 National Lawyers Convention
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2014 National Lawyers Convention

Millennials, Equity and the Rule of Law

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16th Annual Faculty Conference
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2013 National Lawyers Convention
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2013 National Lawyers Convention

Textualism and the Role of Judges

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Click to play: Showcase Panel III: Formalism and Deference in Administrative Law - Event Audio/Video

Showcase Panel III: Formalism and Deference in Administrative Law - Event Audio/Video

2013 National Lawyers Convention

Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984) is a...