Thomas B. Ginsburg
University of Chicago Law School
Legal scholar (international law); Educator
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Leo Spitz Professor of International Law; Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar; Professor of Political Science. Ginsburg's work focuses on comparative legal institutions, constitutional design and international law from an interdisciplinary perspective, with a specific emphasis on the development of judicial review and constitutional texts. The author of Judicial Review in New Democracies (2003) and co-author of The Endurance of National Constitutions (2009) and Judicial Reputation (2015), he has brought rigorous theory and empirical methods to the study of comparative law. Among other contributions, he has explored the origins, spread and efficacy of national constitutions, emphasizing their transnational content. While the vast majority of earlier legal scholarship emphasized the counter-majoritarian nature of judicial review, Ginsburg showed that judicial power reflects divided political power and prevents excessive concentration of power. In his work on the endurance of constitutions, he finds that constitutions last on average for less than twenty years and are often unstable. He shows, however, that the endurance of constitutions turns not merely on the local political environment. While environmental crises and conditions matter, design choices matter as well. This finding has policy implications for constitution-makers, and Ginsburg is regularly involved in constitutional design processes around the world.