Laurence H. Tribe is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard and a member of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. He has taught constitutional law at Harvard since 1968 and was voted Harvard Law School’s best professor by the class of 2000. Fewer than 60 professors in Harvard University’s history have been designated “University Professor,” the university’s highest academic title. In a survey of 13,000 alumni, Tribe was ranked the most admired law faculty member, past or present. His former students and research assistants include President Barack Obama, Chief Justice John Roberts, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Cass Sunstein, and Senior NSC Director for Multilateral Affairs Samantha Power.
Born in Shanghai, China in 1941 of Russian Jewish parents, Tribe came to the U.S. in 1947, attended public schools in San Francisco, entered college at 16, graduated from Harvard summa cum laude in Mathematics (1962) and magna cum laude in Law (1966), then clerked for the California and U.S. Supreme Courts (1966-68) and spent a year at the National Academy of Sciences before joining Harvard’s faculty, where he received tenure at 29. He was 35 when TIME Magazine named him one of the nation’s ten most
outstanding law professors and 38 when he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. While teaching at Harvard, Tribe helped write constitutions for South Africa, the Czech Republic, and the Marshall Islands. Tribe has received numerous honorary degrees, including a Doctor of Laws from NYU in 2008 and a Doctor of Humane Letters from Hebrew University in 1998. He is also a leading appellate advocate, having prevailed in some four-fifths of the many U.S. Circuit Court cases he has argued and three-fifths of the 35 U.S. Supreme Court cases in which he was lead counsel.
Tribe has written 115 books and articles, including his treatise, “American Constitutional Law,” cited more often than any other legal text since 1950. Tribe’s most recent book, “The Invisible Constitution,” published in 2008 by the Oxford University Press, was described as a “masterpiece” by Chief Justice Aharon Barak of Israel, and as “breathtaking in its originality and wide-ranging in its scope” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
President Nixon’s Solicitor General Erwin Griswold wrote: “[N]o lawyer not on the [Supreme] Court has ever had a greater influence on the development of American constitutional law” than Laurence Tribe, and the Northwestern Law Review opined that no-one else “in American history has… simultaneously achieved Tribe’s preeminence… as a practitioner and… scholar of constitutional law.”