Ryan D. Doerfler

Ryan D. Doerfler

Professor of Law

Ryan Doerfler’s research focuses on the role of the judiciary within a democratic system. His recent work includes a critical reassessment of the embrace of judicial review within the liberal legal tradition and an analysis of the relationship between theories of statutory and constitutional interpretation and a fundamental commitment to democratic self-rule. Ryan’s academic work has been published in numerous leading law journals. His popular writing has appeared in the Atlantic, Jacobin, New Republic, and Washington Post.

Ryan graduated from Wake Forest University with a BA in philosophy. He then received a PhD in philosophy from Harvard University and a JD from Harvard Law School. Before joining the University of Chicago Law School faculty, Ryan was an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Before that, he was a Bigelow Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. Ryan has held visiting professorships at Columbia Law School and Harvard Law School.


Harvard Law School

JD, cum laude, 2013

Harvard University

PhD, Philosophy, 2011

Wake Forest University

BA, magna cum laude, Philosophy, 2004


The University of Chicago Law School

Professor of Law, 2019-present
Walter V. Schaefer Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Winter 2019
Harry A. Bigelow Teaching Fellow and Lecturer in Law, 2014-2016

Columbia Law School

Nathaniel Fensterstock Visiting Professor of Law, Fall 2019

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Assistant Professor of Law, 2016-2019

Harvard Law School

Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Fall 2018

U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Law Clerk to Chief Judge Sandra L. Lynch, 2013-2014

Journal Articles

  • "Late-Stage Textualism," __ The Supreme Court Review __ (2022) (forthcoming). ssrn
  • "The Ghost of John Hart Ely," 75 Vanderbilt Law Review __ (2022) (forthcoming). ssrn
  • "Democratizing the Supreme Court," 109 California Law Review 1703 (2021) (with Samuel Moyn). ssrn
  • "The "Ambiguity" Fallacy," 88 George Washington Law Review 1110 (2020). www
  • "Can a Statute Have More Than One Meaning?," 94 New York University Law Review 213 (2019). www
  • "Arguing with Friends," 117 Michigan Law Review 319 (2018) (with William Baude). ssrn cu
  • "The (Not So) Plain Meaning Rule," 84 University of Chicago Law Review 539 (2017) (with William Baude). cu
  • "The Scrivener's Error," 110 Northwestern University Law Review 811 (2016) (prepared as job talk). ssrn cu www
  • "Mead as (Mostly) Moot: Predictive Interpretation in Administrative Law," 36 Cardozo Law Review 499 (2014). cu
  • "Go Big or Go Home: The Constitutionality of Recess Appointments Following Pro Forma Sessions of the Senate," 65 Administrative Law Review 975 (2013). cu
  • "A Comedy of Errors or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Sensibility-Invariantism about ‘Funny’," 93 Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 493 (2012). cu

Working Papers

  • "How Clear is “Clear” Enough?," Virginia Law Review, No. 109 (2023)(forthcoming). ssrn
  • "The Scrivener's Error," University of Chicago Public Law & Legal Theory Paper Series, No. 542 (2015). ssrn cu

Other Publications

  • "Court Reform Is Dead! Long Live Court Reform!," The Atlantic, December 2021 (with Samuel Moyn). www
  • "Book Review: Stephen Breyer’s Supreme Delusions (Reviewing Justice Stephen Breyer's The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics)," New Republic, October 2021 (with Samuel Moyn). www
  • "Imagining a Post-Constitutional Political Culture," Public Seminar, October 12, 2021 (with Samuel Moyn). www
  • "Perspective: Why Progressives in Congress Should Ignore Biden’s Supreme Court Commission," The Washington Post, May 20, 2021.
  • "Making the Supreme Court Safe for Democracy," New Republic, October 2020 (with Samuel Moyn). www
  • "Perspective: The Supreme Court Rules Us. Here's How to Curb Its Power," The Washington Post, September 29, 2020. www
  • "Reform the Court, but Don't Pack It.," The Atlantic, August 2020 (with Samuel Moyn). www
  • "Executive Orders and Smart Lawyers Won't Save Us," Jacobin, December 2019. www
  • "Working with What We've Got," Balkinization, June 24, 2019. www

Professional Service

Chair Emeritus, AALS Section on Legislation

Referee: University of Chicago Law Review, Columbia Law Review, Stanford Law Review, Yale Law Journal