Professor Thomas Schmidt

Thomas P. Schmidt

  • Associate Professor of Law

J.D., Yale Law School, 2011
M.Phil., University of Cambridge, 2008
B.A., Yale University, 2006

Areas of Specialty

Federal Courts
Civil Procedure
Constitutional Law
Legal Theory

Thomas P. Schmidt teaches and writes about federal courts; civil procedure; constitutional law, history, and theory; and the history of legal thought. His past scholarship has explored the role of lower federal courts in public law litigation and the processes of constitutional change. His work has appeared in the Harvard Law Review, Columbia Law Review, and Virginia Law Review, among other publications.

Before joining Columbia Law—as an academic fellow and lecturer in law in 2020 and then as associate professor of law on July 1, 2022—Schmidt practiced law for over six years, specializing in U.S. Supreme Court and appellate litigation, and he handled a number of landmark cases. He represented the plaintiffs in Trump v. Hawaii—the challenge to President Donald Trump’s travel ban—from the initial complaint to the Supreme Court. He litigated successful challenges to two of the Trump administration’s asylum bans; he represented the governor of Pennsylvania and state election officials in the Supreme Court in a case about the legality of partisan gerrymandering; and he helped handle a challenge to Trump’s dismantling of the Bears Ears National Monument. He also argued a precedent-setting case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit about venue in patent cases, which has been cited in more than 50 subsequent federal decisions. 

While studying at Yale Law School, Schmidt was a projects editor for the Yale Law Journal, an executive editor of the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, and the student co-director of the Global Constitutionalism Seminar. He clerked for Judge Merrick Garland on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court. He is admitted to practice in New York, the U.S. Supreme Court, and numerous federal lower courts.


Academic Articles and Essays

  • “Judicial Minimalism in the Lower Courts,” 108 VA. L. REV. (forthcoming 2022).
  • “Courts in Conversation,” 2022 MICH. ST. L. REV. (forthcoming) (invited symposium essay).
  • “The Puzzles and Possibilities of Article V,” 121 COLUM. L. REV. 2317 (2021) (with David E. Pozen).
  • “Active Avoidance: The Modern Supreme Court and Legal Change,” 128 HARV. L. REV. 2109 (2015) (with Neal Kumar Katyal).

Popular Writing

  • “Is the ERA Part of the Constitution? Depends on Whom You Ask.,” The Washington Post (Nov. 22, 2021) (with David Pozen).
  • “Trump Is Threatening to Subvert the Constitution,” The Atlantic (Apr. 17, 2020) (with Neal K. Katyal).

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