Sir Y.K. Pao Chair in Public Law

The University of Hong Kong

Chancellor’s Professor

University of California, Irvine

Visiting Professor

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School (Spring 2020)


David Stephen Law

About “The Declining Influence of the U.S. Constitution”

The study entitled “The Declining lnfluence of the United States Constitution,” which was discussed in The New York Times, can be downloaded here.  (Please click on the blue button that says “Download This Paper”.)  It was published in volume 87, issue 3 (October 2011) of the New York University Law Review and can also be downloaded from their website.


A half-hour interview about the article that aired on St. Louis Public Radio can be downloaded here

A shorter segment that aired on Southern California Public Radio’s Patt Morrison Show can be downloaded here

Constitutional ideology scores and

constitutional comprehensiveness scores

To download the constitutional ideal point estimates discussed in the article The Evolution and Ideology of Global Constitutionalism,” please click here.

This Excel file contains two types of scores: constitutional comprehensiveness scores (“dimension 1”) and constitutional ideology scores (“dimension 2”).  The meaning of the scores is explained in the article.  The scores are currently available from 1946 through 2006 and were calculated by Keith Poole using his optimal classification software, which can be downloaded from his marvelous website,

Publications & works in progress

My book on the Japanese Supreme Court (entitled “The Japanese Supreme Court and Judicial Review”) was published in 2013 by Gendaijinbunsha.  The futuristic foreign graphic at the top of this webpage is the cover of the book, which is available only in Japanese (but the preface is in both English and Japanese).  Many thanks to Professor Shin-ichi Nishikawa, a political scientist at Meiji University who patiently and painstakingly translated the book and did countless other things to make this book a reality.

You can download the following papers in PDF format by clicking on the links below.  Comments are highly welcome, especially on works-in-progress.

Constitutional Archetypes,” 95 Texas Law Review ___ (forthcoming 2017). A major criticism of much empirical scholarship on constitutional drafting (and much empirical legal scholarship generally) is its reliance on the coding of data. The coding of inherently non-numeric phenomena (constitutions, judicial reasoning, etc.) into numeric data is often criticized for being incomplete, incorrect, biased, and/or lacking in transparency. This forthcoming article employs a form of automated content analysis known as Structural Topic Modeling, which is a way of analyzing large bodies of text for patterns without having to first “code” the text into numeric data. Many thanks to Brandon Stewart for his help and support (both moral and technical).  Comments on this work-in-progress are highly welcome.

Judicial Comparativism and Judicial Diplomacy,” 163 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 927 (2015). 

Sham Constitutions,” 101 California Law Review 863 (2013), co-authored with Mila Versteeg.  This article explores empirically the phenomenon of constitutional noncompliance: which countries fail to comply with their constitutions, in what ways, to what extent, and for what reasons?

The Declining Influence of the United States Constitution,” 87 NYU Law Review 762 (2012), co-authored with Mila Versteeg

The Evolution and Ideology of Global Constitutionalism,” 99 California Law Review 1163 (2011), co-authored with Mila Versteeg. 

This article was translated into Chinese by Xiaofei Xu and published in the January 2014 issue of the Tsinghua Rule of Law Forum, along with a response by Professor Jie Cheng of Tsinghua University School of Law.  The Chinese version of the article is available here, and Professor Cheng’s response is available here.

The Limits of Global Judicial Dialogue,” 86 Washington Law Review 523 (2011), co-authored with Wen-Chen Chang.  This article was presented and published as part of a symposium on “Global Law and Its Exceptions” held at the University of Washington in Seattle earlier this year.

Why Has Judicial Review Failed in Japan?,” 88 Washington University Law Review 1425 (2011).  This article was written for a conference on “Decision Making on the Japanese Supreme Court” that John Haley and I hosted at Washington University in St. Louis in September of 2010.  The papers presented at that conference, including two essays authored by retired justices of the Japanese Supreme Court, were published in a symposium issue of the Washington University Law Review.

How to Rig the Federal Courts,” 99 Georgetown Law Journal 779 (2011).

Judicial Independence,” 5 International Encyclopedia of Political Science 1369 (Bertrand Badie et al. eds., 2011).  This essay identifies recurring sources of confusion over the meaning of “judicial independence” and deconstructs the concept into four component questions.  It has been translated into Romanian (click here).

Constitutions,” from The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research (Peter Cane & Herbert M. Kritzer eds., 2010).  This book chapter offers an overview and critical assessment of the empirical literature on constitutions (both quantitative and qualitative).  Written with an international audience in mind, it addresses current topics of interest in comparative constitutional law and comparative judicial politics, and it argues in favor of increased methodological pluralism and innovation. 

Law Versus Ideology: The Supreme Court and the Use of Legislative History” (with David Zaring), 51 William & Mary Law Review 1653 (2010).

We presented a much earlier version of this paper under a different title at the 2008 Conference on Empirical Legal Studies.  This version incorporates over a year of additional data collection, recoding, and extensive revisions.  For an abstract, please click here.

The Anatomy of a Conservative Court: Judicial Review in Japan,” 87 Texas Law Review 1545 (2009).

Translated into Japanese by Shin-ichi Nishikawa and reprinted in Seikei-Ronso [The Review of Economics and Political Science], Vol. 79, No. 1 (2010).  Japanese version available here

What Is Judicial Ideology, and How Should We Measure It?” 29 Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 133 (2009).

Please click here for an abstract.

A Theory of Judicial Power and Judicial Review,” 97 Georgetown Law Journal 723 (2009). 

Please click here for an abstract.

Globalization and the Future of Constitutional Rights,” 102 Northwestern University Law Review 1277 (2008).

Please click here for an abstract.

There Is Nothing Pragmatic About Originalism” (with David McGowan) (2007).

This essay appeared in the Colloquy section of the Northwestern University Law Review and is a response to John McGinnis & Michael Rappaport, “A Pragmatic Defense of Originalism.”

Judicial Selection, Appointments Gridlock, and the Nuclear Option” (with Lawrence B. Solum), 15 Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 51 (2006).

Please click here for an abstract.

Introduction: Positive Political Theory and the Law,” 15 Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 1 (2006).

The Paradox of Omnipotence: Courts, Constitutions, and Commitments,”

40 Georgia Law Review 407 (2006).

Please click here for an abstract.

Judicial Ideology and the Decision to Publish: Voting and Publication Patterns in Ninth Circuit Asylum Cases,” which appeared in the January-February 2006 issue of Judicature.

Generic Constitutional Law,” 89 Minnesota Law Review 652 (2005). 

Strategic Judicial Lawmaking: Ideology, Publication, and Asylum Law in the Ninth Circuit,” 73 University of Cincinnati Law Review 817 (2005).

Appointing Federal Judges: The President, the Senate, and the Prisoner's Dilemma,”

26 Cardozo Law Review 479 (2005).

Why Nuclear Disarmament May Be Easier to Achieve than an End to Partisan Conflict over Judicial Appointments” (with Sanford Levinson), 39 University of Richmond Law Review 923 (2005).

Executive Revision of Judicial Decisions,” 109 Harvard Law Review 2020 (1996).

"And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor," 108 Harvard Law Review 489 (1994)

(reviewing C. Edwin Baker, Advertising and a Democratic Press (1994)).

About me

I am the Sir Y.K. Pao Chair in Public Law at the University of Hong Kong, Chancellor’s Professor at the UC Irvine School of Law, and (for spring 2020) Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. Prior to joining the faculty at UC Irvine, I was the Charles Nagel Chair of Constitutional Law and Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis and taught at the University of San Diego School of Law and the UCSD Department of Political Science. I hold a J.D. from Harvard Law School, a B.C.L. in European and Comparative Law from the University of Oxford, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University, where I also studied as an undergraduate in the Public Policy Program.

During the 2014-15 academic year, I was the Martin and Kathleen Crane Fellow in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University, where I taught a freshman seminar on “Constitutional Law and International Law.” During the 2012-13 academic year, I was Visiting Professor at Georgetown University Law Center.  During the 2010-11 academic year, I was a scholar in residence at the NYU School of Law.  I spent the fall of 2010 and part of winter 2011 as a visiting professor and Fulbright Scholar at the National Taiwan University College of Law, where I conducted research on constitutional politics in Taiwan and the globalization of constitutional law.  Over the summer of 2011, I was also a visiting professor at Seoul National University School of Law, where I taught comparative constitutional law and performed fieldwork on the Korean Constitutional Court.  I have also been a visiting professor and Hitachi Fellow in the Faculty of Law at Keio University in Tokyo, where I studied the internal politics of the Japanese Supreme Court.  I am grateful to the Council on Foreign Relations for awarding me the Hitachi Fellowship, which made possible my research in Japan.  

My research combines the interdisciplinary study of law and political science with the transnational study of public law and constitutional theory.  In the area of law and political science, I have written on the politics and strategy of judicial appointments, the strategic and ideological behavior of federal judges, and the relationship between electoral politics and judicial politics.  In the areas of constitutional theory and comparative public law, I have published articles on the emergence of constitutional similarities across countries, the impact of constitutional law on the credibility of sovereign commitments, and the potential effects of global investment and migration patterns on the protection of constitutional rights.  For a brief profile of me in which I discuss my research interests in the area of comparative public law, please click here

At the University of Hong Kong, I teach an interdisciplinary seminar called “Courts” to both graduate and undergraduate law students, and comparative constitutional law to undergraduate law students. At Washington University, my courses have included Administrative Law, an upper-year elective; Constitutional Law I, a required first-year course; Federal Jurisdiction, an advanced elective; a seminar Comparative Constitutional Law; and Comparative Judicial Politics, a cross-listed seminar that enrolls both upper-year law students and graduate students in political science.  


Most of my papers are available for download through the Social Science Research Network:

You are also invited to visit my "Selected Works" website, hosted by The Berkeley Electronic Press:

Constitutional ideology scores and constitutional comprehensiveness scores: click here.

Contact information and CV

As of January 2020, my mailing address is:

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

3501 Sansom St

Philadelphia PA 19104


+1 (314) 266-9698

E-mail is the fastest way to reach me. My e-mail address is davidlaw dot uci dot edu

For a current CV, please click here.