Richard A. Epstein

Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow
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 (2013). 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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Billionaires For President

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Defining Ideas
Monday, November 26, 2018

Our current campaign finance laws encourage self-funded presidential campaigns.

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California’s Forest Fire Tragedy

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Defining Ideas
Monday, November 19, 2018

Better land use laws can undo the unfortunate consequences of overreaching environmental regulations.

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Trump’s Clumsy Mueller Gambit

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Defining Ideas
Monday, November 12, 2018

The President must appoint an independent Attorney General to bring the Russia investigation to a conclusion.

immigration reform
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The Shaky Case For Birthright Citizenship

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Defining Ideas
Monday, November 5, 2018

The Fourteenth Amendment is more complicated than it appears.

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Only a Mirage

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 29, 2018

A two-state solution was always going to require Palestinians and Israelis to trust each other. The latest Gaza violence has rendered such trust all but impossible.

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Baking Bad

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 29, 2018

Half-baked reasoning in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case left the most important question unanswered: How far does freedom of expression extend?

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The Problem With Soft Socialism

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Defining Ideas
Monday, October 29, 2018

The President's Council of Economic Advisors warns of the perils of collective ownership. 

Analysis and Commentary

A Strong Vote For School Choice

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Las Vegas Review-Journal
Saturday, October 27, 2018

Primary education in Nevada is in a pitiful state, with no obvious path of exit or reform. Clark County has the fifth-largest school district in the nation and some of the lowest-performing schools. Clearly, some major transformation in educational policy is needed to shake up the system. But instead of meeting the challenge, state and local politics are filled with gridlock and confusion.

Analysis and Commentary

New York's Continuing Vendetta Against Exxon Mobil

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Forbes
Friday, October 26, 2018

A foolish and expensive law suit should be brought to a quick end On October 24, 2018, Barbara Underwood, the Attorney General of New York (NYAG) filed a 91 page complaint against Exxon Mobil Corporation, which in the words of the New York Times headline demonstrated that “New York Sues Exxon Mobil, Saying It Deceived Shareholders of Climate Change.” The elaboration inside the article contained allegations by the prosecutors that Exxon “essentially kept two sets of books when accounting for the effects of climate change” which makes it appear as though the NYAG’s is a cut and dried case of financial fraud for illicit corporate advantage. 

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Environmental Law Without Property Rights

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Defining Ideas
Monday, October 22, 2018

No government agency should be able to acquire lands critical for habitat at no cost.