August 19, 1943 |
New York City
|Institutions||Yale Law School|
|Alma mater||Harvard University
Yale Law School
Ackerman graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, received a B.A degree from Harvard University in 1964 and an LL.B degree from Yale Law School in 1967. He clerked for U.S Court of Appeals Judge Henry J. Friendly from 1967 to 1968, and then for U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan II from 1968 to 1969.
Ackerman joined the faculty of University of Pennsylvania in 1969. He was a Professor at Yale University from 1974 to 1982 and at Columbia University from 1982 to 1987. Since 1987 Ackerman has been the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale. He teaches classes at Yale on the concepts of justice and on his theories of constitutional transformation (i.e., the Constitution of the Founders was transformed by the Civil War/Reconstruction and the New Deal). His wife, Susan Rose-Ackerman, is also a professor at Yale Law School who teaches classes on administrative law. Their son, John M. Ackerman, is also an academic who lives and works in Mexico. Their daughter, Sybil R. Ackerman, is an environmental advocate in Portland, Oregon. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1986.
Ackerman's criticism of judicial review
In her recent book on Hans Kelsen, Sandrine Baume identified Bruce Ackerman as a leading critic of the "compatibility of judicial review with the very principles of democracy", in contrast to writers like John Hart Ely and Ronald Dworkin.This reading of Ackerman fails to account for Ackerman's many arguments for judicial review in a democratic constitution, such as his Storrs Lecture, when he noted that judicial review "is part of a larger theme that distinguishes the American Constitution from other, less durable, frameworks for liberal democracy." As one of three principles of the economy of virtue, Ackerman sees a constitutional design for judicial review "that gives judges special incentives to uphold the integrity of earlier constitutional solutions against the pulling and hauling of normal politics." Ackerman has refined this approach but still asserts "I refuse to join in the general retreat from judicial review that characterizes the contemporary work of many liberal constitutionalists." 
Bruce Ackerman is the author of fifteen books and more than eighty articles. His interests cover constitutional theory, political philosophy, comparative law and politics, law and economics, American constitutional history, the environment, and social justice.
His works include:
- 1980: Social Justice in the Liberal State (ISBN 9780300024395)
- 1991: We the People, Volume 1, Foundations (ISBN 9780674948419)
- 1995: Is NAFTA Constitutional?, with David Golove (ISBN 9780674467125)
- 1998: We the People, Volume 2, Transformations (ISBN 9780674003972)
- 1999: The Stakeholder Society, with Anne Alstott (ISBN 9780300078268)
- 2002: Voting with Dollars, with Ian Ayres (ISBN 9780300127010)
- 2005: The Failure of the Founding Fathers (ISBN 9780674023956)
- 2010: The Decline and Fall of the American Republic (ISBN 9780674057036)
- 2014: We the People, Volume 3: The Civil Rights Revolution (ISBN 9780674050297)
We the People: Foundations is best known for its forceful argument that the "switch in time," whereby a particular member of the U.S. Supreme Court changed his judicial philosophy to one that permitted much more of the New Deal legislation in response to the so-called court-packing plan, is an example of political determination of constitutional meaning.
- "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
- Baume, Sandrine (2011). Hans Kelsen and the Case for Democracy, ECPR Press, pp. 53-54.
- Bruce A. Ackerman, The Storrs Lectures: Discovering the Constitution, 93 Yale L.J. 1013, 1031 (1984).
- Bruce Ackerman, De-Schooling Constitutional Law, 123 Yale L.J. 3104, 3120 (2014).
- "Bruce Ackerman" at law.yale.edu