William N. Eskridge

Prof. William N. Eskridge, Jr.

John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence, Yale Law School

Born and raised in Princeton, West Virginia in 1951, Professor Eskridge is the son of William Nichol and Elizabeth DeJarnette Eskridge. He received his B.A., summa cum laude, from Davidson College in 1973 and his Masters in History from Harvard University in 1974. His Honors thesis at Davidson focused on the fideism of Hugenot exile Pierre Bayle (1647-1715). At Harvard, his primary Masters thesis analyzed the political thought of the Marian exiles (1553-58). Professor Eskridge earned his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was the Note & Topics Editor of The Yale Law Journal (1977-78). After clerking for Judge Edward Weinfeld and practicing law at Shea & Gardner, he became a law professor. His primary academic homes have been the Georgetown University Law Center (1987-98) and the Yale Law School (1998-present), but Professor Eskridge has also taught at NYU, Stanford, Toronto, Harvard, Columbia, Virginia, and Vanderbilt. His primary legal academic interest has been statutory interpretation. Together, Professor Eskridge and Professor Philip Frickey (a friend from Shea & Gardner) developed an innovative casebook on Legislation. Professor Eskridge has also published a monograph and several dozen law review articles (many with Frickey) on statutory interpretation theory and practice. Professors Eskridge and Frickey's project has been to understand the dynamics of statutory evolution, and the proper methodology judges should apply when construing statutes. In 1990-95, Professor Eskridge represented a gay couple suing for recognition of their same-sex marriage.  Since then, he has published a field-establishing casebook, three monographs, and dozens of law review articles articulating a legal and political framework for proper state treatment of sexual and gender minorities.  The historical materials in his book on Gaylaw formed the basis for an amicus brief he drafted for the Cato Institute and for much of the Court’s (and the dissenting opinion’s) analysis in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which invalidated consensual sodomy laws.



  • J.D., Yale, 1978
  • M.A., Harvard, 1974
  • B.A., Davidson College, 1973
2016 National Lawyers Convention
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2016 National Lawyers Convention

The Jurisprudence and Legacy of Justice Scalia

The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Second Annual Executive Branch Review Conference
This event has concluded.

Second Annual Executive Branch Review Conference

The Mayflower Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036
2013 National Lawyers Convention
This event has concluded.

2013 National Lawyers Convention

Textualism and the Role of Judges

The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Click to play: Executive Power and the Role of the Coordinate Branches - Event Audio/Video

Executive Power and the Role of the Coordinate Branches - Event Audio/Video

Second Annual Executive Branch Review Conference

What are the duties and responsibilities of the Legislative and Judicial Branch in policing Executive...

Click to play: Showcase Panel IV: Textualism and Statutory Interpretation - Event Audio/Video

Showcase Panel IV: Textualism and Statutory Interpretation - Event Audio/Video

2013 National Lawyers Convention

In recent years, textualism has come to replace legislative history as the most important tool...