Robert William Bennett

Nathaniel L. Nathanson Professor of Law Emeritus


A scholar in the field of constitutional law, Robert Bennett has been a member of the faculty of the Northwestern University School of Law since 1969, serving as the school’s dean from 1985 to 1995. Since 2002 he has been the Nathaniel L. Nathanson Professor of Law at Northwestern. With some regularity Professor Bennett teaches a seminar in the Law of American Democracy and courses in contracts, legislation, constitutional law, and constitutional theory. Professor Bennett has also taught as a visiting professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, the University of Virginia School of Law, the University of Southern California Law Center, Brooklyn Law School, and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University.

Professor Bennett is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and served as the Foundation’s president from 1992 to 1994. He has been a member of the American Law Institute since 1979. He was also a co-founder of the Chicago Council of Lawyers and served as its president. Professor Bennett is the author of numerous books and articles. His two most recent books are Talking It Through: Puzzles of American Democracy, published by Cornell University Press in 2002 and Taming The Electoral College, published by Stanford University Press in 2006. At the present time he is at work on a (co-authored) book about constitutional interpretation for Cornell University Press, tentatively titled Originalism and Living Constitutionalism. Professor Bennett received his BA, summa cum laude, in 1962 from Harvard University and his LLB, cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1965. At Harvard College he was elected to phi beta kappa and at Harvard Law School he was a member of the editorial board of the Harvard Law Review. Professor Bennett received a Knox Memorial Fellowship from Harvard University for study at the London School of Economics in 1965-66, and the following year he served as legal assistant to Commissioner Nicholas Johnson of the Federal Communications Commission. He was Reginald Heber Smith Fellow at the Office of Economic Opportunity, assigned to the Chicago Legal Aid Bureau in 1967-68, and he practiced law as an associate at the Chicago law firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt in 1968-69. Professor Bennett and his wife, Harriet Trop, live in Chicago and they have one daughter, Ariana Trop Bennett, who does as well.

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Areas of Expertise

  • Legislation
  • American Democracy
  • Contracts
  • Constitutional Law

Selected Publications

  • Constitutional Originalism: A Debate (Cornell University Press 2011) (with Lawrence B. Solum).
  • Taming The Electoral College (Stanford University Press 2006).
  • Talking It Through: Puzzles Of American Democracy (Cornell University Press 2003).
  • Current Electoral College Reform Efforts Among the States in Electoral College Reform: Challenges and Possibilities 187-201, edited by Gary Bugh (Ashgate 2010).
  • Decoding the Electoral College: The History and Controversy of Selecting the President in Voting In America: How America Votes: Law, Process, And Voter Participation, Volume 1 1-15, edited by Morgan E. Felchner (Praeger 2008).
  • Compulsion: Death as Different in Screening Justice—the Cinema of Law: Significant Films of Law, Order, And Social Justice, edited by Rennard Strickland, Teree E. Foster, and Taunya Lovell Banks (W.S. Hein 2006).

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  • BA summa cum laude, Harvard University
  • LLB cum laude, Harvard University

Prior Appointments

  • Nathaniel L. Nathanson Professor of Law, 2002-2016, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Dean, 1985-1995, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Associate Professor of Law, 1971-1974, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Assistant Professor of Law, 1969-1971, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Attorney, 1968-1969, Mayer, Brown & Platt
  • OEO Reginald Heber Smith Fellow, 1967-1968, assigned to the Chicago Legal Aid Bureau
  • Legal Assistant to Hon. Nicholas Johnson, 1966-1967, Federal Communications Commission

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