In this Issue


Last year,
Notre Dame tied
for 10th place
among U.S. law schools for its
rate of students
placed in federal judicial clerkships.
Data reported to
the American Bar Association


Court Justice
Clarence Thomas Teaches Seminar at Notre Dame Law School
   Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court of the United States visited Notre Dame Law School the week of February 3, 2014, serving as the James J. Clynes Visiting Chair in Judicial Ethics.
     Over the course of the week, Justice Thomas co-taught with Professor
Richard Garnett an intensive seminar on "Religious Freedom and the Establishment Clause."

Judge Brett
Gives Keynote
Address at
2013 Notre
Dame Law
   D.C. Circuit Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh (second from right) gave the keynote address for the 2013 Notre Dame Law Review Symposium on November 1 in the Patrick F. McCartan Courtroom.
   The Symposium,
The Evolution of Theory: Discerning the Catalysts of Constitutional Change, examined the factors of constitutional doctrinal shifts, focusing on the question of whether the evolution of constitutional theory is driven by external pressures--such as economics, politics, culture, and social movements, or by an internal dialectic about constitutional meaning.

EcuadorProgram on Constitutional Structure
Advises the Constitutional Court of Ecuador

    Under the terms of a new agreement between the University of Notre Dame and the Constitutional Court of Ecuador, Professor Paolo Carozza, Director, Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and Professor Amy Barrett conducted an intensive week-long seminar with Ecuadorian justices in Quito in December.

   With the enactment of a new national constitution in 2008, Ecuador's Constitutional Court has adopted some aspects of a common law model. Professors Carozza and Barrett assisted the Court by providing a foundation in both the procedural and theoretical aspects of precedent-based law. 
     The seminar touched upon a broad range of issues, from the organization of the court's docket and drafting of judgments to theories  
of constitutional interpretation and the handling of precedents.

Message from the Program Director

     Thank you for your interest in the Notre Dame Law School Program on Constitutional Structure.  Our Program continues to help Notre Dame law students obtain a world-class education in constitutional law by supporting curricular programs of study, sponsoring academic lectures and conferences, and engaging with questions of constitutional development worldwide. This newsletter highlights some of our recent activities and student accomplishments.
    The Program on Constitutional Structure has helped the Law School to develop a Program of Study in Public Law. This Program of Study provides students with a strong foundation to pursue a range of positions in public law, including judicial clerkships. Last year, according to data reported to the American Bar Association, Notre Dame stood in a tie for 10th place among U.S. law schools for its rate of placing students in federal judicial clerkships. This summer, two NDLS graduates, Ryan Snyder and Megan Dillhoff, will begin clerkships at the Supreme Court of the United States--Ryan with Chief Justice John Roberts, and Megan with Justice Samuel  Alito.
A.J. Bellia
Program Director

     Notre Dame faculty members continue to produce leading scholarship in the realm of constitutional structure. Professor Barry Cushman, for example--one of the nation's preeminent U.S. legal historians--is re-examining President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1937 Court-packing bill in a series of recent articles. His work was featured prominently in a conference that the Program sponsored at Notre Dame this fall on the evolution of constitutional theory. The Program also sponsored two conferences this year at our London campus, one in the fall on international perspectives on public law and one this spring on statutory interpretation. Both of these events provided an occasion for internationally renowned scholars to examine foundational constitutional questions of domestic and global importance. In addition to their scholarly work, members of our faculty are engaging with constitutional questions of global importance in other ways. For example, this year, our faculty advised the Constitutional Court of Ecuador on questions of constitutional development in that country.

      Thank you again for your interest in our Program. For more information, please visit our website at And please let us know if our Program can serve you.

Two NDLS Grads Accept Supreme Court Clerkships

SupremeCourt    Megan Dillhoff has accepted a judicial clerkship at the Supreme Court of the United States with Justice Samuel Alito for the Court's October 2014 Term, becoming the second NDLS graduate to accept a clerkship for that term. Earlier this year, Ryan Snyder accepted a clerkship with Chief Justice John Roberts.
     Ryan and Megan are the third and fourth NDLS grads to be named Supreme Court judicial clerks in the past decade. Last year, according to data reported to the American Bar Association, Notre Dame stood in a tie for 10th place among all U.S. 
law schools for its rate of placing students in federal judicial clerkships.
Ryan Snyder

   "To have one clerk selected for a Supreme Court clerkship is an honor for the student and for Notre Dame," Dean Nell Jessup Newton noted. "To have two selected in the same school year is all the more remarkable. I couldn't be more proud of these outstanding grads and the faculty who supported and worked with them." 

Megan Dillhoff

   Ryan atributed his selection to a number of factors, starting with the public-law offerings at NDLS. "Since graduation, I've worked on a number of cases that involved either constitutional or statutory interpretation," he said. "I always felt well-equipped to analyze those issues because of the education I received at Notre Dame." He specifically credited four of his mentors at NDLS: Professor Amy Barrett, with whom he studied statutory interpretation; Professor A.J. Bellia, with whom he studied Federal Courts, Professor G. Robert Blakey, with whom he studied Criminal Law, and Professor Bill Kelley, whose class he took for Constitutional Law.
     "I owe all four of these professors a tremendous debt," he said. "In addition to giving me the substantive skills I needed, from the very beginning they all gave me great career advice. I would not have gotten this clerkship without them."
     Megan said clerking for Judge Jeffrey Sutton on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals was a formative experience. "My clerkship with Judge Sutton was essentially an intensive, year-long writing workshop. Judge Sutton demands a lot from his clerks because he knows that by training them he is preparing new lawyers to serve the community and the profession. He was my boss, of course, but he was also my teacher-and a rigorous one at that. If even a quarter of his instruction has rubbed off on me, I'll be doing alright."
     Ryan also clerked for the Sixth Circuit upon graduation and likewise expressed gratitude to his judge, Judge Raymond M. Kethledge. "Judge Kethledge is a fantastic judge to clerk for," Ryan said. "He spent a lot of time giving me feedback and coaching me on legal writing, and he also strongly encouraged me to apply for a Bristow Fellowship, which has proven to be an invaluable experience."
     Ryan is currently one of the four attorneys selected nationwide to serve in the Solicitor General's Office as 2013 Bristow Fellows. Bristow Fellows assist attorneys in the Office of the Solicitor General in writing briefs on the merits in Supreme Court cases and in preparing for oral argument. 
     Megan spent a year as the Simon Karas Fellow with Ohio's Attorney General. In that position, Megan represented Ohio in appeals at the Ohio Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court.
     Read more about Ryan and Megan's clerkship appointments here and here.

Barry Cushman Examines
FDR's Historic
Court Packing
Plan in a Series
of Articles

          In a series of recent articles, Barry Cushman examines President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1937 Court-packing bill. That bill would have permitted Roosevelt to appoint six additional justices to the Supreme Court, thereby expanding its membership to fifteen immediately. Roosevelt's goal was to obtain favorable rulings in cases challenging his New Deal legislation, much of which had previously been ruled unconstitutional by the courts. In his article, Court-Packing and Compromise, Cushman details how Roosevelt had numerous opportunities to accept compromise proposals to his plan, yet rejected each one. Cushman's examination of the papers of Attorney General Homer S. Cummings reveals why FDR and his advisors believed that he required no fewer than six additional appointments in order to secure a liberal working majority on the Court. Though Roosevelt's refusal to compromise can be seen as more rational than is commonly thought, in retrospect one can see that his Court-packing proposal was an entirely unnecessary misadventure through which the President ultimately lost far more than he gained.
      In another, related article, Court-Packing Plan as Symptom, Casualty, and Cause of Gridlock, Cushman further explores Roosevelt's frustration with the judicial branch of the government, and explains how his bill was ultimately related to the phenomenon of gridlock in the 1930s. First, FDR believed that the Democrat-controlled political branches and the Republican-controlled judiciary were not pulling together to help make democracy successful, and that the New Deal was a victim of this partisan gridlock. Second, the bill was itself a casualty of gridlock within Congress due to two institutional features of that body: the committee system and the Senate filibuster. Third, the plan created lasting opposition to much of the President's proposed second-term legislation, undermined bipartisan support for the New Deal, and deeply divided the Democratic party. Cushman concludes that the Court-packing crisis remains illuminating and resonant because it managed--in a single, high profile episode--to bring into sharp relief the gridlock-related implications of a variety of features of our political and constitutional system.
     For other research related to the Court-packing plan, please see
Stay Connected
  Like us on Facebook    Follow us on Twitter   
University of Notre Dame Law School 
Eck Hall of Law | Notre Dame, IN 46556
(574) 631-6627 | [email protected]