Louis Michael Seidman

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Louis Michael Seidman
Born1947 (age 70–71)[1]
SchoolCritical Theory
Main interests
Legal philosophy
Notable ideas
Critical Legal Studies, theory of constitutional unsettlement

Louis Michael Seidman (born 1947) is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., a widely read[citation needed] constitutional law scholar and major proponent of the critical legal studies movement. Seidman's 2012 work is On Constitutional Disobedience,[2] where Seidman challenges the viability of political policy arguments made in reference to constitutional obligation.

Education and early career[edit]

Seidman received an A.B. from University of Chicago and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1971. After graduation, he clerked for D.C. Circuit Judge Skelly Wright and later clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall. Following his clerkship, Seidman joined the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.[3]

Academic work and influence[edit]

Seidman is known for his contributions to constitutional legal theory, principally his theory of unsettlement put forward in his book Our Unsettled Constitution: A New Defense of Constitutionalism and Judicial Review (Yale 2001).[4] Drawing from the critical legal studies indeterminacy thesis, Seidman argues that because constitutional law cannot settle fundamental political disputes, constitutional legal discourse and judicial review instead act to "unsettle" them. Rather than resolving conflicts definitively, the temporary resolution of any controversy in constitutional law through judicial review leaves open the possibility that the losing side may make an equally plausible alternative constitutional argument. In this way, both the prevailing and losing sides in a dispute recognize their positions as unstable and subject to revision within the recognized standards of legal argument. As a result, both winners and losers have reasons to continue their debate within the framework of constitutional law, thereby keeping all parties at the table and consolidating the legal system.

Seidman's defense of judicial review provided a counterpoint within the critical legal studies school to his colleague and sometime collaborator Mark Tushnet's attack on judicial review as undemocratic.

In addition to Seidman's theory of judicial review, he is also known for his constitutional law casebook, co-authored with Pamela Karlan, Mark Tushnet, Geoffrey Stone and Cass Sunstein.[4] Seidman is also noted for his work in criminal law and his book Silence and Freedom.[5] During the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings, Seidman also attracted attention as an outspoken liberal detractor,[6] writing a scathing response to Sotomayor's claims that she simply applies the law to the facts (arguing that this is impossible to do).[7]

In 2009 Seidman was interviewed in the health care reform debate, defending the constitutionality of the single payer mandate against libertarian criticism on fora tv.[8]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Louis Michael Seidman, On Constitutional Disobedience (Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Depoliticizing Federalism 35 Harv. J. L. & Pub. Pol'y 121 (2012)
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Hyper-Incarceration and Strategies of Disruption: Is There a Way Out? 9 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 109 (2011)
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Our Unsettled Ninth Amendment: An Essay on Unenumerated Rights and the Impossibility of Textualism, 98 Cal. L. Rev. 2129 (2010)
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Should we Have a Liberal Constitution? 27 Const. Comment. 541 (2010)
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Mark V. Tushnet, Geoffrey R. Stone, Cass R. Sunstein & Pamela S. Karlan, Constitutional Law (New York: Aspen Publishers 6th ed. 2009).
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Silence and Freedom (Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press 2007).
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Constitutional Law: Equal Protection of the Laws (New York: Foundation Press 2003).
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Our Unsettled Constitution: A New Defense of Constitutionalism and Judicial Review (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press 2001).
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Can Constitutionalism be Leftist?, 26 Quinnipiac L. Rev. 557-577 (2008).
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Gay Sex and Marriage, the Reciprocal Disadvantage Problem, and the Crisis in Liberal Constitutional Theory, 31 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 135-150 (2008).
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Critical Constitutionalism Now, 75 Fordham L. Rev. 575-592 (2006)
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Left Out, 67 Law & Contemp. Probs. 23-32 (2004).
  • Louis Michael Seidman, The Secret Life of the Political Question Doctrine, 37 J. Marshall L. Rev. 441-480 (2004).
  • Louis Michael Seidman & Mark V. Tushnet, When Judges Tell Us What They Mean, 5 Graven Images 254-258 (2002).
  • Louis Michael Seidman, What's So Bad About Bush v. Gore? An Essay on Our Unsettled Election, 47 Wayne L. Rev. 953-1026 (2001).
  • Louis Michael Seidman, "What are You Doing Here?" An Autobiographical Fragment, in Law Touched Our Hearts: A Generation Remembers Brown v. Board of Education 166-168 (Mildred Wigfall Robinson & Richard J. Bonnie eds., Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press 2008).
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Comment: Marbury and the Authoritarian Straddle, in Arguing Marbury v. Madison 160-165 (Mark V. Tushnet ed., Stanford, Cal.: Stanford Law and Politics 2005).
  • Louis Michael Seidman, Judicial Activism and Judicial Restraint, Entry, in 3 Encyclopedia of the American Constitution 1449-1450 (Leonard W. Levy, Kenneth L. Karst & Dennis J. Mahoney eds., New York: MacMillan Reference USA 2d ed. 2000).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ VIAF: "Seidman, Louis Michael"
  2. ^ "On Constitutional Disobedience". oup.com.
  3. ^ "Prof. Louis Michael Seidman". fed-soc.org.
  4. ^ a b Yale University Press. "Our Unsettled Constitution - Louis Michael Seidman". yalepress.yale.edu.
  5. ^ Stanford University Press. "Silence and Freedom - Louis Michael Seidman". sup.org.
  6. ^ http://www.americanprinciplesproject.org/blogs/a-supporter-defects.html[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "PJ Media". PJ Media.
  8. ^ Georgetown University. "Are Healthcare Purchase Mandates Constitutional?". FORA.tv.

External links[edit]