Alison L. LaCroix

Alison L. LaCroix

Robert Newton Reid Professor of Law, Associate Member of the Department of History

Alison LaCroix is the Robert Newton Reid Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. She is also an Associate Member of the University of Chicago Department of History. She is a scholar of US legal history specializing in constitutional law, federalism, and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century legal thought.

Professor LaCroix's latest book, The Interbellum Constitution: Union, Commerce, and Slavery in the Age of Federalisms (Yale University Press, 2024), focuses on US constitutional discourse between 1815 and 1861. In 2018, Professor LaCroix was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. She is also the author of The Ideological Origins of American Federalism (Harvard University Press, 2010). In 2021, President Biden appointed her to the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Professor LaCroix holds a PhD in history from Harvard University, a JD from Yale Law School, and a BA summa cum laude in history from Yale University. She joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2006, having previously held the Samuel I. Golieb Fellowship in Legal History at New York University School of Law. Following law school, she practiced in the litigation department at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York.

Professor LaCroix has served as a member of the board of directors of the American Society for Legal History, and she is a member of the editorial advisory boards of the Journal of American Constitutional History and the American Journal of Legal History. She teaches constitutional law, legal history, federal courts, civil procedure, and law and linguistics.

Education

Harvard University

PhD in history, 2007
AM in history, 2003

Yale Law School

JD, 1999
Essays editor, Yale Law Journal
Managing editor, Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities

Yale University

BA, History, summa cum laude, 1996
Phi Beta Kappa and distinction in the major
Managing editor, Yale Daily News

Experience

The University of Chicago Law School

Robert Newton Reid Professor of Law, 2015-present
Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Teaching Scholar, 2013-2015
Professor of Law, 2011-2015
Assistant Professor of Law, 2006-2011

The University of Chicago

Associate Member, Department of History, 2013-present

New York University School of Law

Visiting Professor of Law, Fall 2020

Harvard University

Visiting Professor of Law, August-December 2016

Debevoise & Plimpton

Associate and Summer Associate, Litigation Department, New York, NY, summer 1998-2001

Books (Author)

  • The Interbellum Constitution: Union, Commerce, and Slavery in the Age of Federalism (Yale University Press, 2024).
  • The Ideological Origins of American Federalism (Harvard University Press, 2010).cu www

Books (Editor)

  • Cannons and Codes: Law, Literature, and America's Wars. (Oxford University Press, 2021) (edited with Jonathan S. Masur, Martha C. Nussbaum & Laura Weinrib). www
  • Power, Prose, Purse: Law, Literature, and Economic Transformations. (Oxford University Press, 2019) (edited with Saul Levmore & Martha C. Nussbaum).
  • Fatal Fictions: Crime and Investigation in Law and Literature. (Oxford University Press, 2016) (edited with Martha C. Nussbaum & Richard H. McAdams). cu
  • Subversion and Sympathy: Gender, Law, and the British Novel. (Oxford University Press, 2013) (edited with Martha C. Nussbaum). cu

Journal Articles

  • "Dispatches From Amendment Valley," __ California Law Review __ (2024) (forthcoming).
  • "The Twin Peaks Fable of American Constitutionalism," __ Boston University Law Review __ (2024) (forthcoming).
  • "The Mood of the Cave: The Intellectual Legacy of Ideological Origins," 50 Eighteenth Century Studies 317 (2017). cu
  • "The Interbellum Constitution: Federalism in the Long Founding Moment," 67 Stanford Law Review 397 (2015). ssrn cu
  • Response, "Redeeming Bond?", 128 Harvard Law Review Forum 31 (2014). cu www
  • "The Shadow Powers of Article I," 123 Yale Law Journal 2044 (2014). ssrn cu
  • "The Constitution of the Second Generation," 2013 University of Illinois Law Review 1775 (2013). cu
  • "Historical Gloss: A Primer," 126 Harvard Law Review Forum 75 (2012). ssrn cu
  • "Federalists, Federalism, and Federal Jurisdiction," 30 Law and History Review 205 (2012). ssrn cu
  • "The Labor Theory of Empire (reviewing Craig Yirush, Settlers, Liberty, and Empire: The Roots of Early American Political Theory, 1675-1775 (2011))," 12 Common-Place 1675 (2012). cu www
  • "On Being 'Bound Thereby'," 27 Constitutional Commentary 507 (2011). ssrn cu
  • "Rhetoric and Reality in Early American Legal History: A Reply to Gordon Wood," 78 University of Chicago Law Review 733 (2011). cu
  • "What if Madison Had Won? Imagining a Constitutional World of Legislative Supremacy," 45 Indiana Law Review 41 (2011). ssrn cu www
  • "Eavesdropping on the Vox Populi (reviewing Pauline Maier, Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 (2010) & Jack Rakove, Revolutionaries: A New History of The Invention of America (2010))," 47 Tulsa Law Review 99 (2011). ssrn cu
  • "The Authority for Federalism: Madison's Negative and the Origins of Federal Ideology," 28 Law and History Review 451 (2010). cu www
  • "Temporal Imperialism," 158 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1329 (2010). ssrn cu
  • "The Founders' Fiction: Reading Eighteenth-Century Novels in Company with the American Revolutionaries," 3 Common-Place __ (2009). cu www
  • "Book Review (reviewing Stephen L. Elkin, Reconstructing the Commercial Republic: Constitutional Design after Madison (2006))," 26 Law and History Review 203 (2008). cu
  • "The New Wheel in the Federal Machine: From Sovereignty to Jurisdiction in the Early Republic," 2007 Supreme Court Review 345 (2007). ssrn cu
  • "A Singular and Awkward War: The Transatlantic Context of the Hartford Convention," 6 American Nineteenth Century History 3 (2005). ssrn cu
  • "'Bound Fast and Brought under the Yoke': John Adams and the Regulation of Privacy at the Founding," 72 Fordham Law Review 2331 (2004). ssrn cu
  • "To Gain the Whole World and Lose His Own Soul: Nineteenth-Century American Dueling as Public Law and Private Code," 33 Hofstra Law Review 501 (2004). ssrn cu

Book Sections

  • "Undivided Loyalty: The Problem of Allegiance in the Literature of War," in Cannons and Codes: Law, Literature, and America's Wars., Alison L. LaCroix, Jonathan S. Masur, Martha C. Nussbaum & Laura Weinrib eds. (Oxford University Press, 2021) (with William A. Birdthistle).
  • "Introduction," in Cannons and Codes: Law, Literature, and America’s Wars, Alison L. LaCroix, Jonathan S. Masur, Martha C. Nussbaum & Laura Weinrib eds. (Oxford University Press, 2021) (with Jonathan S. Masur, Martha C. Nussbaum & Laura Weinrib).
  • "Introduction," in Cannons and Codes: Law, Literature, and America’s Wars, Alison L. LaCroix, Jonathan S. Masur, Martha C. Nussbaum & Laura Weinrib eds. (Oxford University Press, 2021).
  • "Commerce, Law, and Revolution in the Novels of Elizabeth Gaskell and Charlotte Brontë," in Power, Prose, and Purse: Law, Literature, and Economic Transformations, Alison L. LaCroix, Saul Levmore & Martha C. Nussbaum eds. (Oxford University Press, 2019).
  • "Continuity in Secession: The Case of the Confederate Constitution," in Nullification and Succession in Modern Constitutional Thought, Sanford Levinson ed. (University Press of Kansas, 2016). ssrn cu www
  • "A Man for All Treasons: Crimes by and Against the Tudor State in the Novels of Hilary Mantel," in Fatal Fictions: Crime in Law and Literature, Alison L. LaCroix, Martha C. Nussbaum & Richard H. McAdams eds. (Oxford University Press, 2016). ssrn cu
  • "Federalism," in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History., Jon Butler ed. 2016). cu www
  • "Introduction," in Subversion and Sympathy: Gender, Law, and the British Novel, Martha C. Nussbaum & Alison L. LaCroix eds. (Oxford University Press, 2013) (with Martha C. Nussbaum). cu
  • "The Lawyer’s Library in the Early American Republic," in Subversion and Sympathy: Gender, Law, and the British Novel, Alison L. LaCroix & Martha C. Nussbaum eds. (Oxford University Press, 2013). ssrn cu
  • "Dartmouth College v. Woodward," in Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States., David S. Tanenhaus ed. 2008). cu
  • "'Ogden v. Saunders'," in in "Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States"., David S. Tanenhaus ed. 2008). cu
  • "Drawing and Redrawing the Line: The Pre-Revolutionary Origins of Federal Ideas of Sovereignty," in Transformations in American legal history: essays in honor of professor Morton J. Horwitz (Harvard Law School, 2008). cu

Working Papers

  • "A Man For All Treasons: Crimes By and Against the Tudor State in the Novels of Hilary Mantel," University of Chicago Public Law & Legal Theory Paper Series, No. 511 (2015). cu

Other Publications

  • "Texas and the Perpetual Crisis of American Federalism," Project Syndicate, March 26, 2024. www
  • "States of Denial," Balkinization, June 15, 2023. www
  • "Federation, Secession, and Union," Balkinization, January 4, 2023. www
  • "James Madison v. Originalism," Project Syndicate, August 26, 2022. www
  • "The enslaved families who went to court to win their freedom: In D.C. and Maryland, the judicial system took such suits seriously, William G. Thomas III finds," The Washington Post, December 11, 2020. www
  • "Review of William G. Thomas III, The enslaved families who went to court to win their freedom," The Washington Post, December 11, 2020. www
  • "The Invention of the Archival Constitution," Balkinization, October 19, 2018. www
  • "Historical Semantics and the Meaning of the Second Amendment," The Panorama, August 3, 2018. www
  • "The Rooms Where It Happened (reviewing Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton: An American Musical and Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarte, Hamilton: The Revolution)," The New Rambler, May 23, 2016. www
  • "Our Interdisciplinary Legacy: The University Of Chicago At 125," University of Chicago Law School Record, April 2016 (with Martha C. Nussbaum & Omri Ben-Shahar).
  • "When Thirteen Clocks Were Made to Strike (Mostly) Together (reviewing Richard R. Beeman, Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774-1776)," The New Rambler, October 19, 2015. www
  • "A Man For All Treasons (reviewing Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring up the Bodies (2012))," The New Rambler, April 1, 2015. www
  • "Why the Supreme Court Should Stop Fetishizing Dictionaries and Start Caring About Words," Balkinization, June 20, 2014 (with Jason Merchant). www
  • "The Shadow Powers of Article I," Balkinization, April 17, 2014. www
  • "Shooting Alone?: The Decline of the Civic Vision of the Second Amendment (reviewing Saul Cornell, A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America (2006))," H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences On-Line, 2007. www

Named Lectures

  • Maurice and Muriel Fulton Lecture in Legal History, University of Chicago (scheduled, May 2024)
  • Judge Robert A. Ainsworth, Jr., Memorial Lecture, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, March 2019
  • Philip Pro Lecture in Legal History, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, March 2014

Selected Lectures, Presentations, and Conferences

  • Panelist, “The Uses and Misuses of History: The Roberts Court and Its Constitutional Revolution,” Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, January 2024
  • Presenter, “Fractal Federalism: Cherokee Nation v. Georgia v. United States,” Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, July 2023
  • Panelist, “A New Era for Stare Decisis,” American Academy of Appellate Lawyers Spring Meeting, April 2023
  • Featured Author, Publius Symposium, The Interbellum Constitution: Union, Commerce, and Slavery in the Age of Federalisms, Stanford Law School, February 2023
  • Presenter, “Roasting the Judicial Department: The Brig, the Commerce Power, and Marshallian Federalism Before Gibbons,” Rakoviad: A Conference in Honor of Jack Rakove, Stanford Humanities Center, February 2023
  • Participant, Judicial Forum, Pembroke College, University of Oxford (July 2022 and July 2023)
  • Presenter, “The Interbellum Constitution and Executive Power,” Histories of Presidential Power Conference, Stanford Law School, May 2022
  • Lecturer, “The Hidden History of the Interbellum Constitution,” Graham School, University of Chicago, May 2022
  • Panelist, National Association of Attorneys General, State Solicitors General and Appellate Chiefs Conference, September 2021
  • Panelist, “American Literature and the Constitution,” National Constitution Center, May 2021
  • Panelist, “Democracy in America: The Constitution in Historical Perspective,” Cambridge (U.K.) Union, April 2021
  • “Cherokee Nation v. Georgia v. United States,” Georgetown Legal History Colloquium, February 2020
  • “The South Carolinians,” Chase Colloquium, Georgetown Center for the Constitution, December 2019
  • “The Hidden History of the Commerce Power,” Stanford Constitutional Law Center, April 2019
  • “Rivers of Commerce: The Illinois Federal Courts as the Umpires of Antebellum Union,” Bicentennial Presentation, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, April 2019
  • Panelist, “Judicial Independence and the Federal Courts: A Historical Perspective,” National Constitution Center, December 2018
  • Panelist, “Who Cares What ‘The Federalist Papers’ Say?,” Wisconsin Judicial Conference Annual Meeting, October 2018
  • “From the Bank to the Harbors: Federalism’s Middle Ground in the Early Nineteenth Century,” American Society for Legal History Annual Meeting, November 2018
  • Panelist, “Separation of Powers: Audacious Vision, Uneven History, and Uncertain Future,” U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, September 2018
  • “‘Here Are Three States Almost on the Eve of War’: Practicing Commerce and Concurrence in the Early Nineteenth Century,” University of Notre Dame in London, February 2018
  • “Beyond Intuitions, Algorithms, and Dictionaries: Historical Semantics and Legal Interpretation,” (with Jason Merchant); Neubauer Collegium Conference on Historical Semantics and Legal Interpretation, May 2017
  • “Commerce and Concurrent Power in Early-Nineteenth-Century Constitutional Debate,” Harvard Law School Legal History Workshop, November 2016
  • “The Constitutional Construction of Commerce in the Early Nineteenth Century,” American Society for Legal History Annual Meeting, October 2015
  • “On Historical Meaning in Law,” Franke Institute for the Humanities, October 2015 (with Jason Merchant)
  • “The Use and Abuse of Linguistics at the U.S. Supreme Court,” Humanities Day, University of Chicago, October 2014 (with Jason Merchant)
  • University of Michigan Legal Theory Workshop, October 2014
  • Harvard Law School Law and History Workshop, September 2014
  • Virginia Law Review Centennial Symposium, April 2014
  • Columbia Law School Public Law Workshop, April 2014
  • Constitutional Legal History Workshop, University of California, Berkeley School of Law, April 2014
  • Critical Analysis of Law Workshop, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, February 2014
  • University of Wisconsin Discussion Group on Constitutionalism, October 2013 and October 2018
  • Commenter, Panel on “Charles Beard and the Origins of American Constitutionalism,” American Society for Legal History Annual Meeting, November 2013
  • Yale Law School Symposium, “Federalism as the New Nationalism,” July 2013
  • Symposium on Akhil Amar, America’s Unwritten Constitution, University of Illinois College of Law, October 2012
  • Speaker, “Federalism and the States” Session, National Conference of State Legislators Annual Legislative Summit, August 2012
  • Yale Law School Legal History Forum, April 2012
  • Stanford Law School Legal History Workshop, March 2012

“What Right Has Public Opinion to Interfere With Our Marriage Relations?”: Interracial Union, the Civil War, and Memory in the Fiction of Frances E.W. Harper and Charles W. Chesnutt (in progress)

Memberships and Professional Affiliations

  • Advisory Board, John Dickinson Writings Project (2020-present)
  • Advisory Board, Democracy Curriculum, Chicago Center on Democracy (2020-present)
  • American Society for Legal History: Advisory Committee on the Surrency Prize (2017-2020), Board of Directors (2014-2017),  Advisory Committee on the Cromwell Prize (2014-2017)
  • Bar admissions, New York and United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

Awards and Honors

  • Faculty Hooder, Law School Graduation (selected by graduating class) (2022, 2013)
  • Samuel I. Golieb Fellowship in Legal History Fellow (2005-2006)
  • John Thornton Kirkland Fellowship, Harvard University (2005-2006)
  • Charles Warren Center Term-Time and Summer Fellowships (2004-2005)
  • Mark DeWolfe Howe Fund Grant, Harvard Law School (2004)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies (2001-2002)

Fellowships

  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, US History, 2018-2019
    Project Title: The Interbellum Constitution: Union, Commerce, and Slavery from the War of 1812 to the Civil War
  • Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society Fellowship, 2015-2018
    Project Title: Historical Semantics and Legal Interpretation (with Jason Merchant)

Service

  • William Nelson Cromwell Foundation Legal History Article Prize Committee (2023 – present)
  • Advisory Committee, Chicago Summit, University of Chicago (2023)
  • Faculty Advisory Board, Neubauer Collegium, University of Chicago (2022 – present)
  • Faculty Advisory Board, Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture, University of Chicago (2022 – present, 2014 – 2017)
  • Advisory Board, Democracy Curriculum, Chicago Center on Democracy (2020 – present)
  • Advisory Board, John Dickinson Writings Project (2020 – present)
  • Law School Faculty Appointments Committee Co-Chair (2018 – 19); Member (2007 – 08, 2015 – 16)
  • Board of Directors, American Society for Legal History (2014 – 2017)
  • Spokesperson of the Committee of the Council of the University Senate (elected) (2015 – 2016)
  • Committee of the Council of the University Senate (elected, one of seven) (2015 – 2016)
  • Council of the University Senate (elected, one of 52) (2014 – 2017)
  • American Society for Legal History Advisory Committee on the Surrency Prize (2017 – 2020);
  • Advisory Committee on the Cromwell Prize (2014 – 2017)
  • Chair, Law School Committee on Methodological Diversity (2014 – 2015)
  • Law School Committee on Joint Degree Programs (2014 – 2015)
  • University of Chicago Women’s Leadership Council (2012 – 2015)
  • University Board of Student and Campus Life (2010 – 2013; chair, 2011 – 2013)
  • Panelist, National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships Competition (2010)
  • Law School Committee on Lectures, Conferences, and Honors (2007–2008)

Public Service

  • Commissioner, Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States (2021)

Editorial Work

  • Senior Editorial Advisor, Journal of American Constitutional History (2023 – present)
  • Editorial Advisory Board, American Journal of Legal History (2015 – present)
  • Referee, University Press (Studies in Legal History Series); Oxford University Press Law and History Review; William and Mary Quarterly; Modern Intellectual History

Events

  • Co-organizer, Maurice and Muriel Fulton Lecture in Legal History (2007-present)
  • Co-Organizer, “War in Law and Literature” Conference (February 2018)
  • Co-Organizer, “Money in Law and Literature” Conference (February 2016)
  • Co-Organizer, Public Law & Legal Theory Workshop (2009-2016)
  • Program Committee, Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture/Society of Early Americanists Joint Annual Meeting (2014 – 2015)
  • Co-Organizer, “Crime in American Law and Literature” Conference (February 2014)
  • American Society for Legal History Annual Meeting Program Committee (2012-2013)
  • Co-organizer, Manhood in American Law and Literature Conference (2012)
  • Featured Speaker, University of Chicago Constitution Day (2006, 2012)
  • Co-organizer, Gender, Law, and the British Novel Conference (2010)
  • Organizer, American Legal History Workshop (2008-2009)