Faculty Profiles

Michael J. Perry

Michael J. Perry

Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law

Areas of Expertise

Constitutional Law, especially Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Theory, and Law and Religion

Assistant: Linda Jackson

Michael John Perry is the author of thirteen books and over eighty-five articles and essays. The titles of Perry’s books reflect his particular interests: The Constitution, the Courts, and Human Rights (Yale, 1982); Morality, Politics, and Law (Oxford, 1988); Love and Power: The Role of Religion and Morality in American Politics (Oxford, 1991); The Constitution in the Courts: Law or Politics? (Oxford, 1994); Religion in Politics: Constitutional and Moral Perspectives (Oxford, 1997); The Idea of Human Rights:  Four Inquiries (Oxford, 1998); We the People: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Supreme Court (Oxford, 1999); Under God? Religious Faith and Liberal Democracy (Cambridge, 2003); Toward a Theory of Human Rights: Religion, Law, Courts (Cambridge, 2007); Constitutional Rights, Moral Controversy, and the Supreme Court (Cambridge, 2009); The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy (Cambridge, 2010); Human Rights in the Constitutional Law of the United States (Cambridge, 2013); and A Global Political Morality: Human Rights, Democracy, and Constitutionalism (Cambridge, 2017).

Since 2003, Perry has held a Robert W. Woodruff University Chair at Emory University, where he teaches in the law school. A Woodruff Chair is the highest honor Emory University bestows on a member of its faculty. Perry is also a senior fellow at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion and a co-editor of the Journal of Law and Religion (Cambridge University Press).

Before coming to Emory, Perry was the inaugural occupant of the Howard J. Trienens Chair in Law at Northwestern University (1990-1997), where he taught for fifteen years (1982-1997). He then held the University Distinguished Chair in Law at Wake Forest University (1997-2003). Perry began his teaching career at the Ohio State University College of Law (1975-82) and has taught as a visiting professor at several law schools: Yale (1978-79), Tulane (spring semester, 1987), New York Law School (spring semester, 1990), the University of Tokyo (fall semester, 1991), the University of Alabama (fall semester, 2005), the University of Western Ontario, Canada (January term, 2009), and the University of Dayton (intrasession course, March 2011). For three consecutive fall semesters (2009, 2010, 2011), Perry was the University Distinguished Visiting Professor in Law and Peace Studies at the University of San Diego, where he taught an introductory course on international human rights both to law students and to graduate students at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies.

Perry, who was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, received his AB from Georgetown University (1968) and his JD from Columbia University (1973).  After graduating from law school, Perry served as law clerk both to US District Judge Jack B. Weinstein (1973-74) and, a year later, to US Circuit Judge Shirley M. Hufstedler (1974-75). Perry is married to Sarah Anne O’Leary, a public health specialist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta. They have two sons: Daniel and Gabriel.

Education JD, Columbia University (1973); AB, Georgetown University (1968)

Books

A Global Political Morality: Human Rights, Democracy, and Constitutionalism (Cambridge University Press 2017).

Human Rights in the Constitutional Law of the United States (Cambridge University Press, hardback and paperback editions, 2013).

The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2010; paperback edition, 2012).

Articles, Essays, and Book Chapters

"The Morality of Human Rights." 42 Human Rights Quarterly (forthcoming 2020). 

"Two Constitutional Rights, Two Constitutional Controversies." 52 Connecticut Law Review (forthcoming 2020) (contribution to festschrift honoring Richard S. Kay, Wallace Stevens Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Connecticut). 

"Conscience v. Access and the Morality of Human Rights, With Particular Reference to Same-Sex Marriage." Religious Freedom, LGBT Rights, and the Prospects for Common Ground(William N. Eskridge, Jr. & Robin Fretwell Wilson, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2019).

"On the Constitutionality and Political Morality of Granting Conscience-Protecting Exemptions Only to Religious Believers." Religious Exemptions (Kevin Vallier & Michael Weber, eds., Oxford University Press, 2018).

"American Religious Freedom: Reflections on Koppelman and Smith," 77 The Review of Politics 287 (2015).

David C. Baum Memorial Lecture: "Why Excluding Same-Sex COuples from Civil Marriage Violates the Constitutional Law of the United States," 5 University of Illinois Law Review 1887 (2014).

Reply to "A Right to Religious and Moral Freedom?" by Rafel Domingo, 12 International Journal of Constitutional Law 226 (2014).

"Why Excluding Same-Sex Couples from Civil Marriage Violates the Constitutional Law of the United States," Illinois Law Review (2014) (David C. Baum Memorial Lecture on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights).

"The Morality of Human Rights." 50 San Diego Law Review 775 (2013) (Symposium: The Status of International Law and International Human Rights).

"Freedom of Conscience as Religious and Moral Freedom." 29 Journal of Law and Religion 124 (2014) (invited contribution; inaugural CSLR issue).

"Same-Sex Marriage, the Right to Religious and Moral Freedom, and the Catholic Church," in Learning: Essays on Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church (J. Patrick Hornbeck II & Michael Norko, eds., Fordham University Press, 2013).

"Why 'Act Towards One Another in a Spirit of Brotherhood?' The Grounds of Human Rights," in Human Rights at the Crossroads (Mark Goodale, ed., Oxford University Press, 2013).

"Human Rights," in The Routledge Companion to Theism (Charles Taliaferro, Victoria S. Harrison, & Stewart Goetz, eds., Routledge, 2012).

July 2018: Sichuan University, Chengdu (city), Sichuan (province), People’s Republic of China. Taught a short course on U.S. constitutional law to Chinese undergraduates in a summer school program.

June 2017: Hunan Normal University, School of Law, Changsha, China. Lecture: "The Morality of Human Rights, Judicial Review, and the Supreme Court of the United States".

June 2017: Changsha University of Science and Technology, Social Research Center, School of Humanities and Law, Changsha, China. Lecture: "Constitutionality and Anti-Poverty Rights."

June 2017: Changsha University of Science and Technology, Social Research Center, School of Humanities and Law, Changsha, China. Discussion of my new book, A Global Political Morality:  Human Rights, Democracy, and Constitutionalism (Cambridge University Press 2017), with LLM students.

June 2017: Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, School of Law, Wuhan, China. A conference of Chinese constitutional law professors from around China to discuss with me and with one another my new book, A Global Political Morality. 

June 2017: Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, School of Law, Wuhan, China. Lecture:  "The Morality of Human Rights, Judicial Review, and the Supreme Court of the United States".

June 2017: South Central University for Nationalities, School of Law, Wuhan, China. Lecture: "The Morality of Human Rights, Judicial Review, and the Supreme Court of the United States".

June 2017: South Central University for Nationalities, School of Law, Wuhan, China. Discussion of my new book, A Global Political Morality, with members of the law faculty.