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Thomas Merrill

Charles Evans Hughes Professor of Law

Thomas Merrill

Charles Evans Hughes Professor of Law

Thomas Merrill is the Charles Evans Hughes Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. He is a preeminent property law scholar.

Merrill served as the deputy solicitor general for the Department of Justice in the late 1980s. For several years, he worked for the firm Sidley, Austin, Brown & Wood in Chicago. He has also worked as an investment analyst for the National Bank of Detroit from 1973 to 1974.

Merrill has previously taught at Northwestern Law School from 1981 to 2003 and at Yale Law School from 2008 to 2010. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He clerked for the Honorable David L. Bazelon, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and for the Honorable Harry A. Blackmun on the Supreme Court.

Merrill writes widely in the fields of property and administrative law. In property, he has authored—with Henry Smith of Harvard University—a series of articles relating to the structure of property rights to information costs in “Optimal Standardization in the Law of Property: The Numerus Clausus Principle,” Yale Law Journal, 2000. He also wrote a leading casebook, Property: Principles and Policies,” 2012, along with a writing about a series of studies with Joseph Kearney of Marquette on the role of public property rights in the development of the Chicago lakefront, “The Origins of the American Public Trust Doctrine: What Really Happened in Illinois Central,”” University of Chicago Law Review, 2004.

His variety of writings are focused on constitutional property. In administrative law, he has written a number of pieces about the history of administrative law and about judicial review of agency interpretations of law.

Merrill has served as a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago Law School and as the Ewald Visiting Professor of Law at University of Virginia.

He graduated from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was articles editor of the Law Review in 1977. In 1973, he graduated from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and Grinnell College in 1971.

  • J.D., University of Chicago Law School, 1977
  • B.A., University of Oxford, 1973
  • B.A., Grinnell College, 1971
  • “Rethinking Article I, Section 1: From Nondelegation to Exclusive Delegation,” 104 Columbia Law Review 2097, 2004
  • “The Origins of the American Public Trust Doctrine: What Really Happened in Illinois Central,” (with Joseph Kearney), 71 University of Chicago Law Review, forthcoming, 2004
  • “Marbury and the American Rule of Law Tradition,” John Marshall Law Review, forthcoming, 2004
  • “The Making of the Second Rehnquist Court: A Preliminary Analysis,” (Childress Lecture), 47 St. Louis University Law Journal. 569, 2003
  • “Incomplete Compensation for Takings,” 11 N.Y.U. Environmental Law Review 110, 2002
  • “Agency Rules with the Force of Law: The Original Convention,” (with Kathryn Tongue Watts), 116 Harvard Law Review 467, 2002 
  • Property: Takings (Foundation Press Turning Point Series),” (with David Dana), Summer 2002 
  • “The Mead Doctrine: Rules and Standards, Meta-Rules and Meta-Standards,” 54 Administrative. Law Review 807, 2002
  • “What Happened to Property in Law and Economics?” (with Henry Smith), 111 Yale Law Review 357, 2001 
  • “Chevron's Domain,” (with Kristin Hickman), 89 Georgetown Law Journal 833, 2001
  • “The Property/Contract Interface,” (with Henry Smith), 101 Columbia Law Review 773, 2001
  • “The Landscape of Constitutional Property,” 86 Virginia Law Review 885, 2000
  • “Optimal Standardization in the Law of Property: The Numerus Clausus Principle,” (with Henry Smith), 110 Yale Law Journal 1, 2000
  • “The Influence of Amicus Curiae Briefs on the Supreme Court,” (with Joseph Kearney), 148 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 743, 2000
  • “Explaining Market Mechanisms,” University of Illinois Law Review 275, 2000

View an extended list of Thomas W. Merrill’s publications:

Honors and Awards
  • ABA section on administrative law award for distinguished scholarship, November 2003 (with Kathryn Watts); October 1993
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws, Grinnell College, 1995
  • Legal Scholar In Residence, General Motors Corporation, May–August 1990
  • Order of the Coif, 1977
  • Rhodes Scholarship, 1971–1973
  • Danforth Fellowship, 1971–1977
  • Phi Beta Kappa, 1971
Download Full C.V.
Administrative Law
Legislation and Regulation
S. Property As a Constitutional Right: The Takings Clause
S. Theories of Property