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Primus, Richard

Theodore J. St. Antoine Collegiate Professor of Law

535 Legal Research
Twitter: @Richard_Primus

Richard Primus, the Theodore J. St. Antoine Collegiate Professor of Law, teaches the law, theory, and history of the U.S. Constitution. In 2008, he won the first-ever Guggenheim Fellowship in Constitutional Studies for his work on the relationship between history and constitutional interp​retation. His writing has appeared in many leading law reviews as well as in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and Politico, and his scholarship has been cited in opinions of the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Professor Primus works with constitutional law on the state level as well as the federal. He has helped state governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private businesses solve practical problems involving state-level constitutional law, both in Michigan and in other states.

Professor Primus graduated from Harvard College in 1992 with an AB, summa cum laude, in social studies. He then earned a DPhil in politics at Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and the Jowett Senior Scholar at Balliol College. After studying law at Yale, Professor Primus clerked for the Hon. Guido Calabresi on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He then practiced law at the Washington, D.C., office of Jenner & Block before joining the Michigan Law faculty in 2001.

Recent Publications

More Publications...

"The Gibbons Fallacy." U. Pa. J. Const. L. 19, no. 3 (2017): 567-620.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN (UMich user) | HEIN | Lexis | SSRN

"The Cost of the Text." Cornell L. Rev. 102, no. 6 (2017): 1651
Full Text: HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Westlaw | SSRN

"The Constitutional Constant." Cornell L. Rev. 102, no.6 (2017): 1691-702.
Full Text: HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Westlaw | SSRN

"Why Enumeration Matters." Mich. L. Rev. 115 (2016): 1-46.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Lexis | Westlaw

"Is Theocracy Our Politics? Thoughts on William Baude's 'Is Originalism Our Law?'." Colum. L. Rev. Sidebar 116 (2016): 44-60.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Lexis | Westlaw | WWW | SSRN

"Of Visible Race-Consciousness and Institutional Role: Equal Protection and Disparate Impact after Ricci and Inclusive Communities." In Title VII of the Civil Rights Act After 50 Years: Proceedings of the New York University 67th Annual Conference on Labor, 295-318. New Providence, NJ: LexisNexis Publishing, 2015.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | SSRN​​

"Will Lin-Manuel Miranda Transform the Supreme Court?", The Atlantic, June 4, 2016.
Full Text: WWW ​​

Curriculum Interest Areas


Invited commentator, Brennan Center Jorde Symposium, Berkeley Law School, October 2017.

Contributor/discussant at the Theoretical Disagreement in Law Roundtable, Duke Law School, April 2017.

Invited commentator at the Works in Progress Conference, Center for the Study of Originalism, University of San Diego, California, January 2017.

Featured speaker at the 2016 Bench-Bar Conference, Toledo, Ohio, October 2016.

Presented "The Gibbons Fallacy" at Stanford Law School, September 2016.

Presented "The Gibbons Fallacy" at the University of Chicago Law School, May 2016.​

Presented "Marshall's Enumeration" at Vanderbilt Law School, February 2016.​

Presented "Why Enumeration Matters" at the University of Southern California Law School, November 2015.​

Presented "The Limits of Enumeration" at Yale Law School, November 2014.

Showcase panelist at the Federalist Society's National Lawyers' Convention on the subject of textualism in constitutional interpretation, November 2013.