Gerry Leonard

Gerald F. Leonard

Professor of Law

Law Alumni Scholar

AB, Oberlin College
PhD in History, University of Michigan
JD magna cum laude, University of Michigan


Biography

Gerald Leonard is a leading historian of American constitutionalism. He is the author of two books that helped launch and extend the “constitutional politics,” or “popular constitutionalism,” approach to American constitutional history: The Partisan Republic: Democracy, Exclusion, and the Fall of the Founders’ Constitution, 1780s-1830s (Cambridge University Press, 2019) (with Saul Cornell), and The Invention of Party Politics: Federalism, Popular Sovereignty, and Constitutional Development in Jacksonian Illinois (University of North Carolina Press, 2002). His other writings have offered reevaluations of the Dred Scott case, Thomas Jefferson’s constitutional thought, Oliver Wendell Holmes’s philosophies of constitutional and criminal law, and the history of American approaches to substantive criminal law. He is coeditor of the pamphlet series, New Essays on American Constitutional History, for the American Historical Association. Professor Leonard also writes about contemporary criminal law, challenging conventional views about mistake of law and about federal sentencing, among other matters.

A faculty member since 1997, and Law Alumni Scholar since 2007, Professor Leonard served as associate dean for academic affairs from 2006 to 2009. Before coming to BU, Professor Leonard clerked for the Honorable David Souter of the United States Supreme Court and for the Honorable J. Dickson Phillips, Jr., of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Publications

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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Review of Daniel Webster and the Unfinished Constitution by Peter Charles Hoffer 52 Journal of Interdisciplinary History (2022) (book review)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Review of The Injustices of Rape: How Activists Responded to Sexual Violence, 1950–1980 by Catherine O. Jacquet 107 Journal of American History (2021) (book review)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard & Saul Cornell, The Partisan Republic: Democracy, Exclusion, and the Fall of the Founders' Constitution, 1780s-1830s (2019)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Jefferson's Constitutions, in No. 14-68 Boston University School of Law, Public Law Research Paper (2014)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Fletcher v. Peck and Constitutional Development in the Early United States 47 U. C. Davis Law Review (2014)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard & Christine Dieter, Punishment Without Conviction: Controlling the Use of Unconvicted Conduct in Federal Sentencing 17 Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law (2012)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Some Reasons Why Criminal Harms Matter, in Criminal Law Conversations (Paul H. Robinson, Stephen P. Garvey & Kimberly Kessler Ferzan,2009)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Law and Politics Reconsidered: A New Constitutional History of Dred Scott 34 Law and Social Inquiry (2009)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard & Saul Cornell, The Consolidation of the Early Federal System, 1791-1812, in The Cambridge History of Law in America (Michael Grossberg & Christopher Tomlins,2008)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Civilizing Darwin: Holmes on Criminal Law, in Modern Histories of Crime and Punishment (Markus D. Dubber & Lindsay Farmer,2007)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Iredell Reclaimed: Farewell to Snowiss's History of Judicial Review 81 Chicago-Kent Law Review (2006)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Holmes on the Lochner Court 85 Boston University Law Review (2005)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Towards a Legal History of American Criminal Theory: Culture and Doctrine from Blackstone to the Model Penal Code 6 Buffalo Criminal Law Review (2003)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, The Invention of Party Politics: Federalism, Popular Sovereignty, and Constitutional Development in Jacksonian Illinois (2002)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Rape, Murder, and Formalism: What Happens If We Define Mistake of Law? 72 University of Colorado Law Review (2001)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Party as a 'Political Safeguard of Federalism': Martin Van Buren and the Constitutional Theory of Party Politics 54 Rutgers Law Review (2001)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Comment on Frederick Schauer's Prediction and Particularity Comment 78 Boston University Law Review (1998)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Federal Law and Athletic Eligibility for Students with Disabilities 27 School Law Bulletin (1996)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, The Ironies of Partyism and Antipartyism: Origins of Partisan Political Culture in Jacksonian Illinois 87 Illinois Historical Journal (1994)
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  • Gerald F. Leonard, Partisan Political Theory and the Unwritten Constitution: The Origins of Democracy in Illinois, 1818-1840 (1992) (Dissertation, The University of Michigan)
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In the Media

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  • WBUR May 18, 2023

    Mass. High Court Says Pedestrians Could Challenge Arrests for Racial Bias

    Gerald F. Leonard appears on a radio show.
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  • Hi-Fi Nation podcast June 15, 2020

    The Loophole: When an Acquittal Isn’t Really an Acquittal

    Gerald Leonard interviewed.
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Stories from The Record

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