Jason Mazzone
Jason Mazzone

Jason Mazzone is the Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Professor of Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Director of the Illinois Program in Constitutional Theory, History, and Law. 

Professor Mazzone’s primary field of research and teaching is constitutional law and history. He works principally on issues of constitutional structure and institutional design with a particular focus on relationships between structural arrangements and individual rights. His groundbreaking work on the Constitution of the United States has appeared in dozens of prominent legal journals. He regularly advises, on a pro bono basis, litigants in cases before the Supreme Court of the United States and in other courts. A good part of Professor Mazzone’s research involves comparative issues in constitutional law. He has lectured around the world on this topic and he has advised new democracies during their processes of drafting and implementing their own constitutions. Unifying all of this work is a close attention to the role of culture in grounding and shaping formal constitutions, a topic Professor Mazzone first explored in his dissertation at Yale University. Professor Mazzone is currently at work on two books: one a global study of the future of constitutional rights; the other, a study of how the U.S. Constitution serves as both a unifying and dividing force in American society. 

Professor Mazzone works also in the field of intellectual property law. He is the world’s leading expert on overreaching assertions of intellectual property rights. In a famous article published in the NYU Law Review in 2006, Professor Mazzone coined the term, “copyfraud,” to describe claims of copyright in works that are actually in the public domain and cannot be copyrighted by anyone. That article generated scores of studies by other academic researchers and “copyfraud” became the tagline for popular criticism of excessive intellectual property claims. Professor Mazzone’s acclaimed book, Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law, was published in 2011 by Stanford University Press. Professor Mazzone’s work on overreaching intellectual property claims has produced legislative reforms in France and other countries; provided the framework for high-profile lawsuits to limit intellectual property rights to their statutorily-designated scope; inspired symposia and conferences at home and abroad; shaped the work of public interest organizations and legal clinics devoted to protecting the public domain; provided guidance to the work of the U.S. Copyright Office and the U.K. Intellectual Property Office; and served as a framework for rethinking key aspects of our system of intellectual property laws. 

Professor Mazzone received his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University, a master’s degree from Stanford University, and a master’s and doctorate from Yale University. While a student he worked with Laurence H. Tribe on constitutional cases in the Supreme Court and for Robert D. Putnam on the bestselling book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. He served also as Rapporteur to the Saguaro Seminar on Civic Engagement in America, a workshop group whose members included then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama. Before entering law teaching, Professor Mazzone clerked for Judge Robert D. Sack of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Judge John G. Koeltl of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and he practiced intellectual property law in New York City. 

Professor Mazzone is a member of the American Law Institute and a fellow of the European Law Institute. He is Chair of the Illinois-Bologna Conference on Comparative Constitutional History, a member of the Advisory Board of the Italian Law Journal, and a member of the International Association of Constitutional Law Research Group on Constitutionalism in Illiberal Democracies. He has also served on the Board of Trustees of the Copyright Society of the USA. His scholarship has been cited by many courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. He is a regular media commentator and he has written about legal issues for The New York Times and other national newspapers. Professor Mazzone blogs at Balkinization.

Columns by Jason Mazzone
Is the So-Called Mandate Without Any Tax Consequences Unconstitutional? And If So, How Should a Court Remedy That? Part Three in a Series Examining Underexplored Issues in the California v. Texas Affordable Care Act Case

In this third of a series of columns examining underexplored issues in the California v. Texas case challenging the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar, Michigan Law dean emeritus Evan Caminker, and Illinois law professor Jason Mazzone consider whether the so-called individual mandate of the ACA, now without any tax consequences, is unconstitutional, as the challengers argue. The authors explain why, in their view, the challengers are incorrect, regardless of whether the word “shall” in the ACA is interpreted as obligatory or not.

“Standing” In Unfamiliar Territory: Part Two in a Series on the California v. Texas Affordable Care Act Case

In this second of a series of columns on the latest prominent challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar, Michigan Law dean emeritus Evan Caminker, and Illinois law professor Jason Mazzone comment on the standing issue presented in California v. Texas. The authors explore the Solicitor General’s creative argument and argue that the argument leaves several hurdles unaddressed. The authors point out that even if the plaintiffs in these cases can overcome the hurdles, the Court should consider that embracing the Solicitor General’s broad new theory would open the door to other, even more aggressive, applications.

Reflections on the Pending Supreme Court Challenge to the Affordable Care Act in California v. Texas: Part One in a Series

In this first of a series of columns on the latest prominent challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar, Michigan Law dean emeritus Evan Caminker, and Illinois law professor Jason Mazzone examine the stare decisis effects of the Supreme Court’s initial blockbuster decision involving the ACA. The authors demonstrate several, perhaps surprising, ways that the earlier decision should shape how the Court views the present challenge.

Linking COVID-19 Relief for State Governments to Abandonment of “Sanctuary” Policies? The Uncharted Territory of Conditional Spending

Illinois Law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone assess President Trump’s suggestion that federal aid to state and local governments might be conditioned on their willingness to abandon their “sanctuary” policies and assist the federal government in immigration enforcement. Although Amar and Mazzone expect those federal spending conditions not to be realized, they use the President’s comment to list and describe some unanswered fundamental constitutional questions in the conditional spending arena.

Wisconsin’s Decision to Have an Election This Month Was Unjust, But Was it Also Unconstitutional? Why the Plaintiffs (Rightly) Lost in the Supreme Court

Illinois Law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone comment on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent per curiam decision staying an injunction by a federal district court in Wisconsin, effectively allowing the election in that state to go forward on with the normal timeline for casting ballots in place, despite concerns over the effects of COVID-19. Amar and Mazzone argue that, while the outcome might have been unjust, the plaintiffs in that case likely did not allege a constitutional violation and thus did not properly allege claims suitable to be remedied in federal court.

Senate Secrecy: Can the Votes of Senators on President Trump’s Impeachment be Withheld from the Voting Public?

Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone evaluate the suggestion made by some that the votes of senators on President Trump’s impeachment can and should be private. Amar and Mazzone argue that while the text of the Constitution alone does not foreclose secrecy, structural, prudential, and logistical considerations strongly disfavor a secret vote on the matter.

Evaluating the Lawsuit Attacking Mississippi’s Distinctive Method of Picking Governors: Part Three in a Series

In this third of a series of columns on a legal challenge to Mississippi’s method of selecting governors, Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone discuss the merits of the challenge, with a particular focus on the plaintiffs’ contention that the method violates the one-person, one-vote principle enshrined in the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Amar and Mazzone discuss the relevant precedents and argue that based on those precedents, the challenge has solid legal ground on which to proceed.

Examining Federal Court Power in the Challenge to Mississippi’s Regime for Electing Governors: Part Two in Series

In this second of a series of columns, Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone continue their discussion of a federal lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s scheme for electing governors. Amar and Mazzone examine a few important procedural and jurisdictional issues the lawsuit presents, specifically, why the plaintiffs have standing to sue in federal court and what remedies a federal court might provide if it agrees with the plaintiffs on the merits.

Is Mississippi’s Distinctive Method of Electing Governors Constitutional? Part One in a Series

In this first of a series of columns, Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone consider whether Mississippi’s method of electing its governor—requiring a successful candidate to win both a majority of the state house of representatives and a majority of districts—is constitutional. Amar and Mazzone describe some of the important issues the case raises under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.

When is it Constitutionally Problematic for Government to Ask Questions about the Race of Individuals? A Dialogue Between Two Constitutional Law Scholars

Illinois Law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone engage in a dialogue over when it is constitutionally permissible (and problematic) for the state to require that individuals identify their race on a government form. Their dialogue arises from a lawsuit in Virginia challenging that state’s law (which has since been amended) that required individuals to disclose their race on a marriage license application form.

When, If Ever, Should a Legislature Be Able to Enact a Law that it Knows (or Should Know) that Courts Today Would Invalidate?

Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone considers whether (and when) a legislature should pass laws that court are likely to invalidate under current precedent. Amar and Mazzone argue that when legislatures enact laws that are at the time unenforceable, the legislatures are not necessarily wasting legislative resources or defying constitutional limits, but sometimes helpfully informing the work of other governmental actors and guide the resolution of constitutional issues

How Much Deference Will be Given to Affirmative Action Plans Fashioned by Students, and to Affirmative Action Plans More Generally? Part Three in a Series on the Challenge to Harvard Law Review’s Diversity Program

In this third and final column in a series about the legal challenge to Harvard Law Review’s diversity program, Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone consider how much deference courts should give to law reviews when they assert diversity as a basis for considering race and gender. Amar and Mazzone anticipate that even in the unlikely event that this lawsuit reaches the Supreme Court, any fundamental changes to existing affirmative action doctrine would likely require the Court to weigh in on multiple cases over an extended period.

How do Grutter and Fisher Bear on the Question Whether Law Reviews Can Take Race and Gender Into Account in Selecting Members (and Also Articles)? Part Two in a Series

Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone continue their discussion of whether law reviews may take race and gender into account in selecting members and articles. In this second of a three-part series of columns, Amar and Mazzone analyze some of the key substantive arguments made by the plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Can Law Reviews Take Race and Gender Into Account in Selecting Members (and Also Articles)? Part One in a Series

In this first of a series of columns, Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone comment on a legal challenge to the practice by Harvard Law Review of taking into consideration race, gender, and other demographic factors when making membership decisions. Amar and Mazzone highlight some of the hurdles the challenger faces in establishing standing— the right to have the dispute heard in a federal forum.

Part Three on California’s Mandate That Women Be Placed on Corporate Boards: Dormant Commerce Clause and Improper Government Purpose Questions

Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone continue their commentary on California’s mandate that women be placed on corporate boards. In this third of a series of columns on the topic, Amar and Mazzone consider whether SB 826 violates the Commerce Clause and whether there are constitutional issues with the state’s use of the law merely to make a political statement.

Is California’s Mandate That Public Companies Include Women on Their Boards of Directors Constitutional? Part Two

Illinois Law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone continue their discussion of the constitutionality of California’s law requiring that publicly held corporations have a minimum number of women on their boards of directors. In this second of a series of columns, Amar and Mazzone consider whether California’s ostensible reasons for enacting and implementing SB826 are permissible and “important”—the standard required under federal intermediate equal protection scrutiny.

Is California’s Mandate That Public Companies Include Women on Their Boards Of Directors Constitutional?

Illinois Law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone consider the constitutionality of California’s recently passed law requiring that publicly held corporations to have a minimum number of women on their boards of directors. In this first of a series of columns on this topic, Amar and Mazzone analyze whether, under the Equal Protection Clause, the law fails federal intermediate scrutiny.