Michael J. Gerhardt is the Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law. He specializes in constitutional conflicts and has been active as a scholar, advisor, special counsel, expert witness, and public commentator on all the major conflicts between presidents and Congress over the past quarter century.
Professor Gerhardt’s extensive public service has included advising congressional leaders and White House officials on numerous constitutional issues, including judicial nominations, recess appointments, impeachment, health care reform, the filibuster, and the debt ceiling crises. From 1992 to 1993, he served as one of eight members of the Justice Department transition team for President Clinton, and wrote the judicial selection policy for the incoming administration. In 1998, he was the only expert invited to speak behind closed doors to the House of Representatives about the possible impeachment of President Clinton, and he was the only joint witness in the House Judiciary Committee’s principal hearing on the impeachment of President Clinton. The House Judiciary Committee selected him as the principal reporter for three distinguished legal scholars whom it asked to draft a censure resolution for the committee to consider in lieu of impeaching the president. In 2003 and 2005, he advised Senate Majority leaders and the Democratic Policy Committee on the constitutionality of the filibuster and the so-called nuclear option.
Professor Gerhardt is the only legal scholar to have formally participated in Supreme Court confirmation hearings for five of the nine justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court. He served as Special Counsel assisting the Clinton White House on Justice Stephen Breyer’s confirmation hearings. In 2005, he advised several senators on President Bush’s nomination of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States, and he testified as an expert witness in the confirmation hearings for Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. In 2009-2010, Professor Gerhardt served as Special Counsel to Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the Senate Judiciary Committee for the nominations of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court. In this capacity, Professor Gerhardt helped to coordinate these two nominations through the Senate to their successful completions, including overseeing the review of all pertinent materials for the hearings, coordinating support, and drafting of all public statements and reports for the Judiciary Committee and the Senate Majority Leader throughout the proceedings. In addition, in this capacity, Professor Gerhardt served as the principal consultant on numerous other constitutional issues coming before the Judiciary Committee.
Professor Gerhardt frequently participates in academic workshops and colloquia around the country and regularly writes op eds and is interviewed as an expert on constitutional law by all major networks and cable television, national newspapers, and National Public Radio. In 1998-1999, he was CNN’s resident expert throughout President Clinton’s impeachment hearings.
Before coming to UNC, Professor Gerhardt served as Dean of Case Western Reserve Law School, and taught at Wake Forest and William & Mary Law Schools. He has been a visiting professor at Cornell and Duke Law Schools. After graduation from law school and before entering academia, he clerked for two federal judges (Chief Judge Robert McRae of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee and Judge Gilbert Merritt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit), served as Deputy Media Director of Albert Gore, Jr.’s first Senate campaign, and practiced law for two firms specializing in complex civil and criminal trial and appellate litigation: Trotter, Bondurant, Hishon & Stephenson (Atlanta), and Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin (Washington, D.C.).