William Van Alstyne

Prof. William Van Alstyne

Professor of Law, Emeritus, Marshall-Wythe Law School at the College of William and Mary

Topics: Religious Liberties • Free Speech & Election Law • Civil Rights • Federalism & Separation of Powers • Labor & Employment Law • Telecommunications & Electronic Media • International & National Security Law

William W. Van Alstyne, one of the nation's foremost constitutional law scholars, and William & Mary’s Lee Professor of Law from 2004 to 2012, died on January 29, 2019, in Southern California.

Professor Van Alstyne was appointed Lee Professor of Law at the Marshall-Wythe Law School at the College of William and Mary in 2004. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California (B.A. in philosophy, magna cum laude) and Stanford University Law School (J.D., Articles and Book Review Editor of The Stanford Law Review). Following his admission to the California Bar and brief service as Deputy Attorney General of California, he joined the Civil Rights Division of the U. S. Department of Justice handling voting rights cases in the South. After active duty with the U. S. Air Force, he was appointed to the law faculty of the Ohio State University, advancing to full professor in three years. Appointed to the Duke law faculty shortly thereafter, he was named to the William R. & Thomas S. Perkins Chair of Law in 1974.

Professor Van Alstyne’s professional writings have appeared during four decades in the principal law journals in the United States, with frequent republication in foreign journals. They address virtually every major subject in the field of constitutional law. His work has been cited in a large number of judicial opinions including those of the Supreme Court. The Journal of Legal Studies for January, 2000, named Professor Van Alstyne in the top forty most frequently cited legal scholars in the United States of the preceding half-century.

Professor Van Alstyne has also taught and given professional papers internationally, in Germany, Austria, and Denmark, in Chile, the former Soviet Union, China, Japan, Canada, and Australia. He has been a visiting faculty member on the law faculties of the University of Chicago, Stanford, California (Berkeley and UCLA), Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Illinois, a Fulbright Lecturer in Chile, a Senior Fellow at the Yale Law School, and a faculty fellow at the Hague International Court of Justice. He has appeared as counsel and as amicus curiae in constitutional litigation in the federal courts, including the Supreme Court. He has also appeared in numerous hearings before Senate and House Committees, on legislation affecting the separation of powers, war powers, constitutional amendments, impeachments, legislation affecting civil rights and civil liberties, and nominations to the Supreme Court.

In 1987, Professor Van Alstyne was selected in a poll of federal judges, lawyers, and academics by the New York Law Journal as one of three academics among "the ten most qualified" persons in the country for appointment to the Supreme Court, a distinction repeated in a similar poll by The American Lawyer, in 1991. Past National President of the American Association of University Professors, and former member of the National Board of Directors of the A.C.L.U., he was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994.

Click to play: Panel I: The President's Powers as Commander-in-Chief vs. Congress's War Power and Appropriations Power [Archive Collection]

Panel I: The President's Powers as Commander-in-Chief vs. Congress's War Power and Appropriations Power [Archive Collection]

Foreign Affairs and the Constitution

On November 6-7, 1987, The Federalist Society held a symposium at the Grand Hyatt Hotel...

Panel I: The President's Powers as Commander-in-Chief vs. Congress's War Power and Appropriations Power [Archive Collection]

Foreign Affairs and the Constitution

On November 6-7, 1987, The Federalist Society held a symposium at the Grand Hyatt Hotel...