William Van Alstyne

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William Van Alstyne
William Warner Van Alstyne

(1934-02-08) February 8, 1934 (age 84)
Alma materUniversity of Southern California
Stanford Law School
Pamela Gann
(m. 1981; div. 2002)

Lan Cao (m. 2003)

William Warner Van Alstyne (born February 8, 1934) is an American lawyer, law professor, and constitutional law scholar. Prior to retiring in 2012, he held the named position of Lee Professor of Law at William and Mary Law School. He was the Perkins Professor of Law at Duke Law School for more than 30 years and has taught at Chicago Law School; Stanford Law School; University of California, Berkeley, Law School, University of California, Los Angeles, Law School; Michigan Law School, among many others.

Van Alstyne received his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy magna cum laude from the University of Southern California. He received his Juris Doctor law degree from Stanford Law School. Following his admission to the California Bar and brief service as Deputy Attorney General of California, he joined the Civil Rights Division of the U. S. Department of Justice handling voting rights cases in the South. After active duty with the U. S. Air Force, he was appointed to the law faculty of the Ohio State University, advancing to full professor in three years. Professor Van Alstyne was named to Duke's William R. and Thomas S. Perkins Chair of Law in 1974. He holds a certificate from The Hague Academy of International Law and has been honored with LL.D. degrees by Wake Forest University and the College of William & Mary.[1]

In 1987, Professor Van Alstyne was selected in a poll of federal judges, lawyers, and academics by the New York Law Journal as one of three academics among "the 10 most qualified" persons in the country for appointment to the Supreme Court, a distinction repeated in a similar poll by The American Lawyer, in 1991. Past National President of the American Association of University Professors, and former member of the National Board of Directors of the A.C.L.U., he was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994.

Van Alstyne's body of work includes many books, law journal articles, and congressional committee testimony. In 1994, he was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. An article in the January 2000 Journal of Legal Studies found that Van Alstyne was among the top 40 legal scholars in the United States in number of academic citations.[2] His work has also been cited by courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. In a 2012 study published by the University of Michigan Law Review, by Fred Shapiro and Michelle Pearse, "The Most Cited Law Review Article of All Time," Van Alstyne's "The Demise of the Right-Privilege Distinction in Constittional Law," 81 HARV. L. REV. 1439 (1968) was included at number 35.[3]

He has testified numerous times before Congress on numerous Constitutional issues. His testimony on the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton was quoted with approval by the New York Times opinion page. "This point [to strike a balance] was underscored by one of the Republican witnesses, Prof. William Van Alstyne of Duke University Law School. It is the prerogative of this Congress, he observed, to express dismay, despair and condemnation by means short of impeachment. Mindful of the likelihood that impeachment will fail, he urged lawmakers to struggle to find a suitable means to express your sense of disappointment.

That neatly defines the challenge now confronting the members of Congress. There is nothing in the Constitution to keep them from rising to that task." https://www.nytimes.com/1998/11/11/opinion/constitutional-room-for-censure.html


  1. ^ https://law.duke.edu/fac/vanalstyne/
  2. ^ Shapiro, Fred R. "The Most-Cited Legal Scholars." Journal of Legal Studies 29.1 (Jan. 2000): 409-426. 14 July 2007.
  3. ^ Shapiro, Fred R.; Pearse, Michelle (2012). "The Most-Cited Law Review Articles of All Time" (PDF). Michigan Law Review. 110 (8): 1490. Retrieved 11 January 2019.