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Volokh Conspiracy

Professor John Manning tapped to lead Harvard Law School


On Thursday morning Harvard Law School announced that Professor John Manning will be the school's next dean. Manning will succeed Martha Minow, who was the successor to Elena Kagan.

From the announcement:

John Manning '85, the Bruce Bromley Professor of Law and Deputy Dean at Harvard Law School, and an eminent public-law scholar with expertise in statutory interpretation and structural constitutional law, will become the School's next dean on July 1.

"John Manning is known among colleagues and students for his intellect and humility, his wisdom and integrity, his energy and openness," said Harvard President Drew Faust. "He has an unusual capacity for creating conversations and connections across lines of difference, and a deep appreciation for a wide range of perspectives and methods. Over and again during the search, I heard people remark on his magnetic enthusiasm for the law, his strong academic values, his collaborative instincts, and his extraordinary devotion not just to Harvard Law School as an institution but to the people—faculty, students, staff, and alumni—who are the lifeblood of its vital work. I'm delighted that he has agreed to guide Harvard Law School forward." . . .

A graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Manning has been on the HLS faculty since 2004, following a decade at Columbia Law School. In her letter to the HLS community announcing his appointment, Faust called Manning "a greatly admired teacher and mentor," while noting his strong ties to public service and practice, including two stints in the U.S. Department of Justice as an attorney in the Office of Legal Counsel and the Office of the Solicitor General. . . . He has argued nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Early in his career, in addition to his service in the Justice Department, Manning was an associate in the D.C. office of the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He served as a law clerk to both Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Robert H. Bork of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

"Having admired John Manning since we were law students together more than 30 years ago, I know he will lead Harvard Law School with the energy, intelligence, collegiality, and good judgment that he brings to everything he does," said Elena Kagan, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, who served as Dean of Harvard Law School from 2003 to 2009. "He embodies a blend of scholarly accomplishment, devotion to teaching, engagement with practice, and passion for the law that represents the best of our profession. And he's a terrific human being, always intent on what he can do to help others do their best work." . . .

Among other things, Manning's scholarship is credited with persuading the late justice Antonin Scalia to reconsider his opinion in Auer v. Robbins, under which courts are to give agency interpretations of their own regulations "controlling weight." This is but one example of how Manning's scholarship has helped shape contemporary debates about public law.

This is a fantastic choice. Professor Manning is a superlative scholar and extraordinarily decent man. Congratulations to all.

UPDATE: For more on Dean Manning, I recommend this remembrance by Paul Horwitz.

For a less enthusiastic reaction to the appointment, check out Above the Law.