October 24, 2021

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The Passionate Pursuit of Law

How UChicago’s ‘innovative community’ caught the eye of a prime legal scholar

Prof. Adam Chilton, who co-chaired the Law School’s appointments committee with Prof. Jennifer Nou, reported Bradley’s “approach to research suits properly with the University of Chicago’s educational values

“He is effective, collaborative and ready to obstacle common knowledge,” Chilton mentioned. “But Curt not only has a very well-acquired name as a person of the country’s major lawful scholars, he also has a standing for staying a phenomenal teacher, mentor and neighborhood builder.”

Bradley’s knack for bringing alongside one another a diversity of views extends to the two his colleagues and his learners. “I have experienced the terrific reward of remaining capable to discuss via numerous of my scholarly tips with learners,” he said. “I imagine that currently being fired up about instructing and being psyched about scholarship go hand in hand.”

Shedding light-weight on the U.S. lawful program

A graduate of the University of Colorado and Harvard Regulation School, Bradley clerked for Judge David Ebel of the U.S. Court docket of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and Justice Byron White of the U.S. Supreme Court. After his Supreme Court clerkship, he practiced at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., exactly where his function with overseas litigation consumers sparked an interest in global law. At the firm, he labored with latest Harvard Law scholar Jack Goldsmith, who also had been a Supreme Court docket clerk all through the 1990 term. The two turned frequent collaborators. 

Around the yrs, Bradley has pushed towards standard imagining on international relations regulation, arguing, for instance, that the government’s actions in international affairs are not exempt from domestic constitutional considerations—an plan that has been a theme in much of his crafting. 

“Before [Goldsmith and I] arrived in, a lot of scholars in the place positioned minor body weight on structural constitutional values—such as the curiosity of the states in retaining some regulatory autonomy,” Bradley said. “The strategy was mainly that as soon as you get to overseas affairs, the Constitution’s problems about separation of powers and federalism should really possibly go absent or turn out to be enormously diminished—and I begun pushing versus that in a sequence of papers, and I coined a time period to describe it.”

That phrase, foreign affairs exceptionalism, is now usually used in foreign affairs legislation scholarship.


In December 2020, Bradley and Goldsmith—along with fellow co-creator Oona Hathaway of Yale Law—released the benefits of an unprecedented empirical analyze that, for the to start with time, get rid of gentle on the method encompassing the hundreds of binding global agreements that U.S. presidents make each individual 12 months.

Revealed in the Harvard Regulation Overview, the paper was the item of a a few-year challenge that involved interviews with government lawyers as perfectly as a Liberty of Facts Act (FOIA) lawsuit to get additional than 5,000 documents from the U.S. Division of State. The students concluded that the executive branch’s reporting to Congress has been incomplete, that the approach is opaque, and that Congress is “failing in its oversight position.”

The scholars are now researching the govt branch’s escalating exercise of getting into into nonbinding worldwide agreements, which usually tumble outdoors of the reporting and publication needs that Congress has imposed for binding agreements.

Developing a new subject

Bradley has also aided reshape how judges and attorneys interpret frequent legislation, or legislation founded by courts. In between 2012 and 2018, he worked as a reporter on the American Legislation Institute’s influential fourth Restatement of the Foreign Relations Regulation of the United States, a successor to the third Restatement that had been revealed in 1987. Early in his profession, Bradley criticized elements of the third Restatement, and he was delighted by the option to perform on the fourth Restatement, which he named “a privilege.”

As part of that method, the group sought the perspectives of scholars and federal government officials from other countries—and the working experience deepened Bradley’s appreciation for the benefit of comparative review.

“It bought me wondering really immediately that a lot of constitutional democracies are having difficulties with some of the identical foreign relations regulation issues we are in the U.S.,” he explained. 

Though other scholars—including Tom Ginsburg, the Legislation School’s Leo Spitz Professor of International Law—were engaged in comparative function on typical concerns of constitutional law, there was “no sustained pondering about how to do that in overseas relations legislation,” Bradley said.