Jay D. Wexler
Professor of Law
Interests: law and religion; administrative law; constitutional law; environmental law; legislation; natural resources law
Before going to law school, Jay Wexler studied religion at the University of Chicago. "I've always been fascinated by religion, so it was natural that I would continue to be interested in the subject after studying law," he says. "I like to think and write not only about how the law ought to treat religious beliefs and practice, but also about what role religion should play in the legal process. I'm particularly interested in how public schools ought to treat religion, and my goal is to articulate a balanced position that respects both the importance of religion to individual believers and the rights of non-believers to be free of religious indoctrination and endorsement by the state."
A member of the School of Law faculty since fall 2001, Professor Wexler has taught classes in law and religion, the first amendment, legislation, administrative law, environmental law, and natural resources law. He has published articles, essays, and book reviews on these topics in publications such as the Georgetown Law Journal, the Vanderbilt Law Review, the George Washington Law Review, the William and Mary Law Review and the Washington University Law Review. His first book, Holy Hullabaloos: A Road Trip to the Battlegrounds of the Church/State Wars, was published in June 2009 by Beacon Press. The book explains and analyzes church/state law through the retelling of various road trips that Wexler took to places where important Supreme Court cases originated. In its starred review of the book, Publishers Weekly wrote: "This is a rare treat, a combination of thoughtful analysis and quirky humor that illuminates an issue that rarely elicits a laugh—and that is central to the American body politic." In 2011, Beach Press published Wexler's second book, The Odd Clauses: Understanding the Constitution Through Ten of its Most Curious Provisions, which looks at the history, stories, controversies and possible future of ten of the Constitution's most curious clauses.
In recent years, Professor Wexler's interests have turned more international in scope. He has spoken on law and religion topics in Hanoi, Moscow, Oslo, and Warsaw. In the spring of 2008, he taught constitutional civil liberties in Lyon, France, and U.S. church/state law on a Fulbright award at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Before law school, Professor Wexler lived in Hong Kong, Japan, mainland China and Taiwan.
Prior to coming to BU Law, Professor Wexler clerked for Judge David Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court. He also spent two years as an attorney-advisor at the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice, advising components of the Justice Department and other executive branch actors on statutory and constitutional issues. For fun, he sometimes writes short stories and humor pieces for places like McSweeney's Internet Tendency. His 2005 study of Supreme Court oral argument humor was the subject of a front page article in the New York Times and a segment on ABC's Nightline, but it has not resulted in funnier jokes being told from the bench.