William N. Eskridge

Prof. William N. Eskridge, Jr.

Alexander M. Bickel Professor of Public Law, Yale Law School

Professor William N. Eskridge, Jr. is the Alexander M. Bickel Professor of Public Law at Yale Law School. Born and raised in Princeton, West Virginia in 1951, Professor Eskridge is the son of William Nichol and Elizabeth DeJarnette Eskridge. He received his B.A., summa cum laude, from Davidson College in 1973 and his Masters in History from Harvard University in 1974. His Honors thesis at Davidson focused on the fideism of Hugenot exile Pierre Bayle (1647-1715). At Harvard, his primary Masters thesis analyzed the political thought of the Marian exiles (1553-58). Professor Eskridge earned his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was the Note & Topics Editor of The Yale Law Journal (1977-78). After clerking for Judge Edward Weinfeld and practicing law at Shea & Gardner, he became a law professor. His primary academic homes have been the Georgetown University Law Center (1987-98) and the Yale Law School (1998-present), but Professor Eskridge has also taught at NYU, Stanford, Toronto, Pennsylvania, Harvard, Columbia, Virginia, and Vanderbilt. His primary legal academic interest has been statutory interpretation.

Together, Professor Eskridge and Professor Philip Frickey (a friend from Shea & Gardner) developed an innovative casebook on Legislation. Professor Eskridge has also published Dynamic Statutory Interpretation (Harvard 1994) and several dozen law review articles (many with Frickey) on statutory interpretation theory and practice. Professors Eskridge and Frickey's project has been to understand the dynamics of statutory evolution, and the proper methodology judges should apply when construing statutes.

In 1990-95, Professor Eskridge represented a gay couple suing for recognition of their same-sex marriage. Since then, he has published a field-establishing casebook on sexuality, gender, and the law (with Nan Hunter, now in its fifth edition); three monographs, and dozens of law review articles articulating a legal and political framework for proper state treatment of sexual and gender minorities.  The historical materials in his book on Gaylaw: Challenging the Apartheid of the Closet (Harvard 1999) formed the basis for an amicus brief he drafted for the Cato Institute and for much of the Court’s (and the dissenting opinion’s) analysis in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which invalidated consensual sodomy laws. Professor Eskridge’s recent books include Marriage Equality: From Outlaws to In-Laws (Yale 2020, ABA Silver Gavel) (with Christopher Riano); Interpreting Law: A Primer on How to Read Statutes and the Constitution (Foundation 2016); A Republic of Statutes: The New American Constitution (Yale 2010) (with John Ferejohn); Dishonorable Passions: The Crime Against Nature in America, 1861-2003 (Viking 2008).


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2019 National Lawyers Convention


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