Laurence H. Tribe

Harvard law professor Laurence H. Tribe, who until recently served at the U.S. Department of Justice as Senior Counselor for Access to Justice, works with the firm on a variety of matters.

The New York Times describes Professor Tribe as "arguably the most famous constitutional scholar and Supreme Court practitioner in the country." The Northwestern Law Review has opined that no one else "in American history has . . . simultaneously achieved Tribe's preeminence . . . as a practitioner and . . . scholar of constitutional law."

Professor Tribe has successfully advised leading business corporations, members of Congress, states, and many other clients on constitutional questions, statutory and administrative issues, and complex legal matters of all types. Widely admired and unusually successful as an appellate advocate, he has argued 37 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court - orally argued 35 cases and presented 2 more in which the Court ruled in his clients' favors without argument - and has lost only 13. Some of his victories include:

  • FCC v. NextWave, 537 U.S. 293 (2003), which rejected the FCC’s cancellation of spectrum licenses held by a debtor reorganizing in bankruptcy.
  • U.S. v. United Foods, 533 U.S. 405 (2001), which held that the First Amendment precludes forcing mushroom growers to pay for a generic government advertising campaign to promote their product.
  • Ortiz v. Fibreboard, 527 U.S. 815 (1999), and Amchem Products, Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591 (1997), both of which rejected billion-dollar asbestos class action settlements under Federal Civil of Civil Procedure Rule 23.
  • Baker v. General Motors, Inc., 522 U.S. 222 (1998), which held unenforceable a state-court judgment purporting to prevent an expert witness from testifying in the courts of a different state.
  • TXO v. Alliance Resources, 509 U.S. 443 (1993), which rejected a due process attack on a punitive damages award 526 times the size of the compensatory award.

Professor Tribe has also argued and prevailed in many additional cases in other federal and state courts on a wide range of constitutional and non-constitutional issues, including bankruptcy, civil procedure, class action rules, environmental law, preemption, products liability, punitive damages, and scientific evidence, including:

  • General Electric Co. v. EPA, 360 F.3d 188 (D.C. Cir. 2004), holding that a federal jurisdictional statute did not bar GE from challenging a provision of CERCLA (the Superfund statute) as unconstitutional.
  • U.S. West, Inc. v. FCC, 182 F.3d 1224 (10th Cir. 1999), holding that an FCC rule restricting the sharing of customer information between a telecommunications company and its affiliate violated free speech.
  • Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. of Virginia v. U.S., 42 F.3d 181 (4th Cir. 1994), holding that a federal statute prohibiting telephone companies from providing video programming in their service areas was unconstitutional.
  • In re Pacific Gas and Elec. Co., 283 B.R. 41 (N.D.Cal. 2002), holding that federal bankruptcy law preempted California requirements for agency approval of the restructured debtor-utility (later reversed by the Ninth Circuit).

Professor Tribe has written 115 books and articles, including his treatise, "American Constitutional Law," which has been cited more often than any other legal text since 1950. He helped draft the constitutions of South Africa, the Czech Republic, and the Marshall Islands. Professor Tribe is one of only 60 professors in the history of Harvard to be designated "University Professor," the university's highest academic title. He has received ten honorary degrees and numerous honors and distinctions. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.

Professor Tribe on Charlie Rose