Richard A. Epstein

Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow
Research Team: 
Awards and Honors:
American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Richard A. Epstein, the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University Law School, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago.

In 2011, Epstein was a recipient of the Bradley Prize for outstanding achievement. In 2005, the College of William & Mary School of Law awarded him the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize.

Epstein researches and writes in a broad range of constitutional, economic, historical, and philosophical subjects. He has taught administrative law, antitrust law, communications law, constitutional law, corporation criminal law, employment discrimination law, environmental law, food and drug law, health law, labor law, Roman law, real estate development and finance, and individual and corporate taxation.

He edited the Journal of Legal Studies (1981–91) and the Journal of Law and Economics (1991–2001).

Epstein’s most recent publication is The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government (2014). Other books include Design for Liberty: Private Property, Public Administration, and the Rule of Law (2011); The Case against the Employee Free Choice Act (Hoover Institution Press, 2009); Supreme Neglect: How to Revive the Constitutional Protection for Private Property (2008); How the Progressives Rewrote the Constitution (2006); Overdose (2006); and Free Markets under Siege: Cartels, Politics, and Social Welfare (Hoover Institution Press, 2005).

He received a BA degree in philosophy summa cum laude from Columbia in 1964; a BA degree in law with first-class honors from Oxford University in 1966; and an LLB degree cum laude, from the Yale Law School in 1968. Upon graduation he joined the faculty at the University of Southern California, where he taught until 1972. In 1972, he visited the University of Chicago and became a regular member of the faculty the following year.

He has been a senior fellow at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics since 1984 and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1985. He has been a Hoover fellow since 2000.

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Recent Commentary

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The Courts at a Crossroads

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Hoover Digest
Sunday, January 30, 2005

What kind of judges should the president nominate? The kind who are willing to place limitations on government power and to protect individual rights against federal and state intervention. By Richard A. Epstein.


by Richard A. Epsteinvia Hoover Digest
Saturday, October 30, 2004

Sure, Bill Gates is rich. But his employees aren’t doing so badly either, now, are they? By Richard A. Epstein.

Analysis and Commentary

Where Else Can They Go?

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Hoover Daily Report
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The reason candidates migrate to the center is captured in the expression, where else can they go?

Defining Social Welfare—and Achieving It

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Hoover Digest
Friday, April 30, 2004

Whether you define social welfare as wealth, health, or happiness, you’ll discover that it’s best achieved by way of property rights and limited government. By Hoover fellow Richard Epstein.

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Free Markets Under Siege: Cartels, Politics, and Social Welfare

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Hoover Institution Press
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Drawing on his extensive knowledge of history, law, and economics, Richard Epstein examines how best to regulate the interface between market choice and government intervention—and find a middle way between socialism and libertarianism. He argues the merits of competition over protectionism and reveals the negative results that ensue when political forces displace economic competition with subsidies and barriers to entry. In the process, he provides an illuminating analysis of some of the ways that special interest groups, with the help of sympathetic politicians, have been able to manipulate free markets in their favor.

How Not to Prevent another Enron

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

When a zealous Congress decided to launch a crusade to “prevent another Enron,” it could only mean one thing: bad, poorly conceived legislation. Hoover fellow Richard Epstein explains.


with Richard A. Epstein, David Blattevia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, April 28, 2003

The past decade has seen the emergence of an increasingly vocal animal rights movement in this country. Although many of the specific goals of the movement have to do with promoting the humane treatment of animals, the underlying argument is that certain basic legal rights should be extended to animals as well. Should we recognize that animals have legal rights, or should we continue to regard animals as property, as resources to use as humans see fit? Just what rights, if any, should animals have? And how could these rights alter the relationship between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom?

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Who Owns the Genome?

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 30, 2003

Should private companies be granted patents on the human genome? Hoover fellow Richard Epstein on a debate that he argues has been fraught with needless misunderstanding.

How Much Privacy Do We Really Want?

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 2002

American privacy laws are often contradictory and wrongheaded. Hoover fellow Richard A. Epstein explains how to fix them.

Why Health Care Reform May Be Bad for Your Health

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Hoover Digest
Sunday, April 30, 2000

Central planning has failed everywhere else—so why do so many want to apply it to our health care system? By legal scholar Richard A. Epstein.