Benjamin Eidelson, constitutional law and legal theory scholar, joins HLS faculty

Benjamin Eidelson_Faculty imageBenjamin Eidelson, a scholar of constitutional law and legal theory, has joined the Harvard Law School faculty as an assistant professor, effective July 1. Trained in both law and philosophy, Eidelson specializes in questions at the intersection of the two disciplines.  His work explores the interplay of legal doctrines and moral principles, with a particular focus on contending conceptions of equality and respect.

“Ben Eidelson is a thoughtful and creative scholar who has already produced an important book examining the nature of discrimination through the lens of philosophy,” said Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning ’85.  “We are excited to welcome Ben to our community and are grateful for the superb teaching, insightful research, and warm collegiality we know he will bring to HLS.”

Eidelson’s first book, “Discrimination and Disrespect” (Oxford University Press), develops a philosophical account of discrimination rooted in the moral demands of respect for persons. Reviews describe Eidelson’s book as “a ‘must read’” that “develops an unusually rich and sophisticated account of discrimination,” noting that the book blends “sophisticated analyses of British, American and European law” with “crisp, thorough and careful philosophical analysis.”

In one current project, Eidelson is drawing on his philosophical work to critique the U.S. Supreme Court’s understanding of what it means to “treat people as individuals” in equal protection law.  In another line of work, he is exploring how courts manage or avoid the uncomfortable task of drawing arbitrary lines when confronted with matters of degree.

Eidelson’s research and teaching will also be informed by first-rate practice experience. After clerking for Justice Elena Kagan ’86 of the U.S. Supreme Court and Chief Judge Merrick Garland ’77 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Eidelson joined the Appellate and Supreme Court Practice at Jenner & Block.  While there, he has played a leading role in several cases of national significance—including challenges to the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the State Department’s interpretation of President Trump’s “travel ban,” and the ban on military service by transgender individuals.

“I’m honored to be joining this extraordinary institution,” Eidelson said. “I’m thrilled to get to engage with such thoughtful colleagues and teach such talented students.”

Eidelson received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served as the editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal and as a student director of the Supreme Court Advocacy Clinic. He received his D.Phil. in Philosophy from Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar and was awarded the Gilbert Ryle Prize for outstanding achievement. He received his B.A., summa cum laude, from Yale College.