Lawyer and philosopher Ryan D. Doerfler joins Harvard Law School

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Ryan D. Doerfler ’13, who focuses his research on critically examining the place of federal justice in the American legal and political order, will join Harvard Law School as a professor of law, effective July 1. July.

Doerfler is currently a professor of law at the University of Chicago, where he teaches in the areas of administrative law and legislation. From 2016 to 2019, he was Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania. In the fall of 2018, he was a visiting assistant professor of law at Harvard.

“Ryan Doerfler is a brilliant and original scholar who rigorously applied insights from the philosophy of language to shed important new light on how we should read law,” said John F. Manning ’85, dean and professor of right of Morgan and Helen Chu. at Harvard Law School. “A wonderful teacher and colleague, Professor Doerfler’s ideas and energy will enliven our classrooms and our intellectual life. We are delighted to welcome him back to the Harvard Law School community.

Doerfler’s recent scholarship includes a critical reassessment of the embrace of judicial review in the liberal legal tradition and an analysis of the relationship between theories of statutory and constitutional interpretation and a fundamental commitment to democratic autonomy. A jurist and philosopher, Doerfler’s work on issues of statutory and constitutional interpretation grew out of an interdisciplinary focus on epistemology and the philosophy of language.

His academic work has been published in many leading legal journals. He has a forthcoming article, “Late-Stage Textualism,” in the Supreme Court Review, and he also recently co-authored, with Yale law professor Samuel Moyn ’01, “Democratizing the Supreme Court,” California Law Review (2021), and “The Ghost of John Hart Ely”, published in the Vanderbilt Law Review (2022). In a recent Vanderbilt Law Review podcast, Doerfler and Moyn discuss the ideas behind late constitutional law scholar John Hart Ely’s theory of judicial review.

Other articles include “Can a law have more than one meaning?” (New York University Law Review, 2019), which examines whether statutory language can mean different things in different cases, and “High-Stakes Interpretation” (Michigan Law Review, 2018), which explores why courts often interpret text differently when they decide – case of stakes.

His popular writings have also been published in l’Atlantique, Jacobin, la Nation, la Nouvelle République and the Washington Post.

“I’m incredibly excited to be going back to Harvard,” Doerfler said. “I look forward to joining the growing community of scholars who doubt the role of the federal judiciary in our democracy. »

“I first met Professor Doerfler at Harvard Law School’s third Latino Alumni Celebration shortly after he joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania,” Andrew Crespo said. 08, Morris Wasserstein Professor of Public Interest Law at Harvard Law School. “In the years that followed, I watched with admiration how he established himself not only as a brilliant scholar of statutory interpretation, but also as a leading public intellectual and critic of the role of the Supreme Court. in American society. Looking back on the community that came together when we first met, I know his appointment will have special meaning for our Latino students and alumni, many of whom have waited decades to see a Chicano law professor on the faculty. of Harvard Law.

Doerfler joined the Chicago faculty in 2019, having served as Harry A. Bigelow Lecturer there from 2014 to 2016 and as Walter V. Schaefer Visiting Assistant Professor of Law during the winter of 2019. In the fall of 2019 , he was the Nathaniel Fensterstock Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia.

Doerfler earned a BA in Philosophy from Wake Forest University in 2004 and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard University in 2011. He went on to study law at Harvard and received a JD in 2013. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he served as a law clerk for the Hon. Sandra L. Lynch of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

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