Michael McConnell

Senior Fellow
Awards and Honors:
American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Michael W. McConnell is the Richard and Frances Mallery Professor and Director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. From 2002 to the summer of 2009, he served as a Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. McConnell has held chaired professorships at the University of Chicago and the University of Utah, and visiting professorships at Harvard and NYU. He has published widely in the fields of constitutional law and theory, especially church and state, equal protection, and the founding. In the past decade, his work has been cited in opinions of the Supreme Court second most often of any legal scholar. He is co-editor of three books: Religion and the Law, Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought, and The Constitution of the United States. McConnell has argued fifteen cases in the Supreme Court. He served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. and is Of Counsel to the appellate practice of Kirkland & Ellis.

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Recent Commentary

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A Question Of Prerogative

by Michael McConnellvia Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution)
Thursday, December 1, 2016

The UK’s Supreme Court wrestles with Brexit, politics, and the British Constitution.

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Obama’s Unconstitutional Immigration Order

by Michael McConnellvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Framers adopted the Take Care Clause to ensure that the President is forbidden from making law unilaterally. 


Defusing The Supreme Court Fight

by Michael McConnellvia Wall Street Journal
Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wait for a lame-duck vote. And get Hillary on the record now.


Stanford Law Faculty On Justice Scalia’s Legacy

by Michael McConnellvia Stanford Law School
Monday, February 15, 2016

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death has triggered memories as well as debate. The conservative justice, who was a visiting professor at Stanford Law School in 1980-81, was known for his provocative opinions and sharp wit. Here are some thoughts on his legacy from professors at Stanford Law School.

Justice Antonin Scalia discusses the premise of his book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.

Antonin Scalia Was Democracy’s Legal Champion

by Michael McConnellvia Wall Street Journal
Sunday, February 14, 2016

He changed the way judges looked at text and law, and he was the best writer the Supreme Court has ever known.


Yes, We Should Consider Refugees’ Religion

by Michael McConnellvia Politico
Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Americans have heard a lot of nonsense in the past week about the role of religion in our refugee policy – from both sides. Senator Ted Cruz has been derided, mostly justly, for saying that no Muslim refugees – but only Christians – should be admitted to this country from the killing fields of Syria and Iraq.

Main EssayAnalysis and Commentary

Defiant, Not Deferred, Action

by Michael McConnellvia Peregrine
Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Last November, the Obama Administration announced that it will cease enforcement of the immigration laws with respect to some four million undocumented persons. Instead it will award them legal status and work authorizations. Quite apart from whether this is good policy, it is almost certainly bad law.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Obama’s Immigration Order Was Blocked

by Michael McConnellvia Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The injunction isn’t about prosecutorial discretion. It is about granting illegal aliens benefits not allowed by law.

No, He Can't

by Michael McConnellvia Hoover Digest
Friday, October 18, 2013

The president has no constitutional authority to suspend the employer mandate—or, for that matter, any other law.

Michael McConnell bio photo

McConnell discusses the Affordable Care Act on CNBC

by Michael McConnellvia CNBC
Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Michael McConnell, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Richard and Frances Mallery Professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, discusses Obama’s choice to put off for a year enforcing some of the provisions in Affordable Care Act. McConnell notes that the president does not have the authority to decide which laws he will enforce. If we allow Obama to enforce some laws and not others, this sets a precedent that future presidents might also try to use.