Neil S. Siegel

Neil S. Siegel

Professor of Political Science

External Address: 
Duke Law School 210 Science Dr, Duke Box 90362, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Duke Law School Room 3178, Duke Box 90362, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 613-7157
American Politics

Neil S. Siegel is the David W. Ichel Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Duke Law School, where he also serves as director of the DC Summer Institute on Law and Policy. Professor Siegel’s research and teaching fall primarily in the areas of U.S. constitutional law, constitutional politics, and constitutional theory.
Professor Siegel is a constitutional law generalist. His scholarship addresses a variety of areas of constitutional law and, in doing so, considers ways in which a methodologically pluralist approach can accommodate changes in society and the needs of American governance while remaining disciplined and bound by the rule of law. His articles on collective action federalism offer constitutional justification for robust, but not limitless, federal power. His contributions in the area of separation of powers document and conditionally justify the role of historical governmental practices and norms in constraining political partisanship and partially constituting congressional, executive, and judicial power. His writings on the politics of constitutional law and judicial statesmanship seek to understand how participants in the practice of constitutional law can vindicate the preconditions for the legitimacy of constitutional law. His constitutional theory scholarship analyzes, among other issues, how perceptions of the clarity or ambiguity of the constitutional text are affected in part by purposive, structural, historical, doctrinal, and consequentialist considerations. His work on sex equality and reproductive rights examines how equality values are protected under both equal protection and substantive due process, and extends the skepticism of constitutional sex equality doctrine to pregnancy discrimination and restrictions on access to contraception and abortion.
Professor Siegel teaches Duke Law students, undergraduates in Duke University’s Trinity College and in Duke Law School’s DC Summer Institute, and judges in Duke’s Master of Judicial Studies Program. Throughout the year, he offers U.S. Supreme Court updates and other talks at judicial conferences and law firms around the country.
Professor Siegel served as special counsel to U.S. Senator Christopher Coons during the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh, and he advised Senator Coons during the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Neil M. Gorsuch. Professor Siegel also served as special counsel to U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden during the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings of John G. Roberts and Samuel A. Alito. During the October 2003 term, he clerked for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the U.S. Supreme Court. He also served as a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice during the tenure of Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, and as a law clerk to Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Professor Siegel is a member of the American Law Institute and the Bar of the State of North Carolina. He also serves on the Board of Academic Advisors of the American Constitution Society.
In 1994, Professor Siegel received his B.A. (Economics and Political Science), summa cum laude, from Duke University. In 1995, he received his M.A. (Economics) from Duke University. He graduated in 2001 with joint degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, receiving his J.D. from Berkeley Law and a Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy. While at Berkeley Law, he served as the Senior Articles Editor of the California Law Review.


  • Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley 2001
  • J.D., University of California at Berkeley 2001
  • M.A., Duke University 1995

Siegel, N. “More Law than Politics: The Chief, the "Mandate," Legality, and Statesmanship.” The Health Care Case:The Supreme Court’s Decision and Its Implications, 2013, pp. 192–214.

Siegel, N., and C. Bradley. “Historical Gloss, Constitutional Conventions, and the Judicial Separation of Powers.” Georgetown Law Journal, vol. 105, 2017, pp. 255–322.

Siegel, N. “Reciprocal Legitimation in the Federal Courts System.” Vanderbilt Law Review, vol. 70, 2017, pp. 1183–247.

Siegel, N., and R. Cooter. Coercion and Collective Action. 2016.

Siegel, N. Madison's Reasoning. 2016.

Siegel, N. “The Distinctive Role of Justice Samuel Alito: From a Politics of Restoration to a Politics of Dissent.” Yale Law Journal Forum, vol. 126, 2016, pp. 164–77.

Siegel, N., and C. Bradley. “Constructed Constraint and the Constitutional Text.” Duke Law Journal, vol. 64, no. 7, 2015, pp. 1213–94.

Siegel, N., and R. Siegel. “Contraception as a Sex Equality Right.” Yale Law Journal Forum, vol. 124, 2015.

Siegel, N., and R. Siegel. “Compelling Interests and Contraception.” Connecticut Law Review, vol. 47, no. 4, 2015, pp. 1025–43.

Siegel, N., and C. Bradley. Historical Gloss and the Judicial Power. 2015.


Siegel, N. “The U.S. Constitution, Constitutionational Conventions, and President Trump.” Oxford Human Rights Hub, 2017.

Siegel, N., and C. Bradley. “Judicial and Media Independence After the Next Attack.” Lawfare, 2017.

Siegel, N., and D. Lithwick. “Anthony Kennedy is Not Stupid.” Slate, 2017.

Siegel, N., and D. Lithwick. “The Democrats Can't Block Gorsuch.” Slate, 2017.

Siegel, N. “Reciprocal Legitimation in Response to President Trump.” Balkinization, 2017.

Siegel, N. “Norms and Conventions Meet Donald Trump.” Oxford Human Rights Hub, 2017.