Ronald D. Rotunda

Ronald D. Rotunda is the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, at Chapman University, Fowler School of Law. He joined the faculty in 2008. Before that, he was University Professor and Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law. From 2002 to 2006, he was the George Mason University Foundation Professor of Law. Before that, he was the Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Professor of Law, at the University of Illinois.

He is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, where he was a member of Harvard Law Review. He joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1974 after clerking for Judge Walter R. Mansfield of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, practicing law in Washington, D.C., and serving as assistant majority counsel for the Watergate Committee.

He has co-authored the most widely used course book on legal ethics, Problems and Materials on Professional Responsibility (Foundation Press, 11th ed. 2011) and is the author of a leading course book on constitutional law, Modern Constitutional Law (West Publishing Co., 10th ed. 2012). He is the coauthor of, Legal Ethics: The Lawyer's Deskbook on Professional Responsibility (ABA-West Group, St. Paul, Minnesota, 7th ed., 2009) (jointly published by the ABA and West Group, a division of Thompson Publishing) (with John Dzienkowski). Rotunda is also the co-author (with John Nowak) of the six-volume Treatise on Constitutional Law (West Publishing Co., 5th ed. 2012), and a one volume Treatise on Constitutional Law (West Publishing Co., 8th ed. 2010). He is also the author of several other books and more than 300 articles in various law reviews, journals, newspapers, and books in this country and in Europe. His works have been translated into French, German, Romanian, Czech, Russian, Japanese, and Korean. These books and articles have been cited more than 2000 times by law reviews and by state and federal courts at every level, from trial courts to the U.S. Supreme Court. He has been interviewed on radio and television on legal issues, both in this country and abroad. In 1993 he was the Constitutional Law Adviser to the Supreme National Council of Cambodia and assisted that country in writing its first democratic constitution.

He was selected the Best Lawyer in Washington, DC, in 2009 in Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law, as published in November 2008 in the Washington Post in association with the Legal Times. He was also selected as one of the Best Lawyers in Southern California, in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 in Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law as published in the Los Angeles Times, U.S. News, and American Law Media. On June 17, 2009, he became a Commissioner of the Fair Political Practices Commission, a state regulatory agency and California’s independent political watchdog. He served until January 31, 2013, when his term expired. In 2012, he became a Distinguished International Research Fellow at the World Engagement Institute, a non-profit, multidisciplinary and academically-based non-governmental organization with the mission to facilitate professional global engagement for international development and poverty reduction. In 2012, Chapman University honored him with The Chapman University Excellence In Scholarly/Creative Work Award, 2011-2012. Since 2014, he has been a member of the Editorial Board of The International Journal of Sustainable Human Security (IJSHS), a peer-reviewed publication of the World Engagement Institute (WEI). He was rated, in 2014, as one of “The 30 Most Influential Constitutional Law Professors” in the United States. President Barak Obama was rated number 1.

Columns by Ronald D. Rotunda

The Mystery of Case Assignment in the Ninth Circuit


Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda comments on the purportedly random assignment of judges to cases in federal courts. Rotunda points out that particularly in the Ninth Circuit, which has been singled out as having highly unlikely results of “random” assignment, the process of case assignment is unnecessarily opaque; Rotunda argues for greater transparency to ensure fairness and justice.

Suing the President


Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda discusses on the lawsuit against President Obama and explains the issue of judicial standing to sue the President for exceeding his constitutional authority. Rotunda points to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in United States v. Windsor, the case in which the Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, as supporting standing for the new case against the President.

Using Facebook as a Discovery Device


Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda discusses how various courts and bar associations treat attorneys’ uses of Facebook and other social networking sites. Rotunda describes some different rules that affect how lawyers may and may not use social networking sites to interact with witnesses, opposing parties, jurors, and clients.

Banning the Export of American Oil


Ronald Rotunda, a Chapman University law professor, discusses why Congress should eliminate the federal ban on the export of American oil. Rotunda provides a background on the history of the Export Clause of the U.S. Constitution and explains why the original rationale for banning the export of oil no longer supports the continued ban today.

Increasing Revenue by Lowering Taxes


Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda argues that the best way to increase revenue is to lower taxes. Rotunda explains that the current taxation structure incentivizes the wealthy to find loopholes and avoid paying taxes altogether, whereas those same corporations and individuals would be more likely to pay under lower tax rates. Rotunda also discusses the trend of corporations moving their headquarters and business centers from states with higher taxes, such as California, to states with lower taxes, and the negative impact of such moves on the origin state.

Amending the First Amendment


Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda critically discusses attempts to amend the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Rotunda describes some of the alarming implications of the proposal in the Senate, which already has 41 cosponsors, and he warns that the passage of the proposal will lead to the taking away of important rights the First Amendment granted.

Prayers before Meetings of the Town Board of Greece, New York


Ronald Rotunda, law professor at Chapman University, explains why the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway fits solidly within precedent and does not expand it. Rotunda describes the precedential cases on point and argues that Marsh v. Chambers—the Court’s 1983 decision holding that legislative prayers were a long, consistent, historical practice—ultimately determined the outcome of Galloway.

The Ninth Circuit Departs From Tinker in Upholding Ban on American Flag T-Shirts in School


Justia columnist and Chapman law professor Ronald Rotunda discusses a Ninth Circuit case holding that a public school could permit students to wear t-shirts bearing the Mexican flag while banning students from wearing shirts with an American flag. Rotunda argues that the Ninth Circuit’s reasoning runs counter to the language and logic of the U.S. Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District and its progeny, and effectively sides in favor of the heckler’s veto.