Log In

Bruce Arnold Ackerman Edit Profile

Philosopher , university professor

Bruce Arnold Ackerman, American law educator. Bar: Pennsylvania 1970. Named Commander French Order Merit Henry Phillips prize in Jurisprudence, American Philological Society; Guggenheim fellow, 1985. Fellow American Academy Arts and Sciences; member American Law Institute.


Ackerman, Bruce Arnold was born on August 19, 1943 in New York City. Son of Nathan and Jean (Rosenberg) Ackerman.


Ackerman graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, received a B.A degree from Harvard University in 1964 and an LL.B degree from Yale Law School in 1967.


He is a Sterling Professor at Yale Law School. In 2010, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers. He clerked for U.S Court of Appeals Judge Henry J. Friendly from 1967 to 1968, and then for U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan II from 1968 to 1969.

Ackerman joined the faculty of University of Pennsylvania in 1969. He was a Professor at Yale University from 1974 to 1982 and at Columbia University from 1982 to 1987. Since 1987 Ackerman has been the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale.

He teaches classes at Yale on the concepts of justice and on his theories of constitutional transformation (ie, the Constitution of the Founders was transformed by the Civil War/Reconstruction and the New Deal). Their son, John M. Ackerman, is also an academic who lives and works in Mexico. Their daughter, Sybil Ackerman-Munson is an environmentalist in Portland, Oregon.

In her recent book on Hans Kelsen, Sandrine Baume identified Bruce Ackerman as a leading critic of the "compatibility of judicial review with the very principles of democracy", in contrast to writers like John Hart Ely and Ronald Dworkin.


  • He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1986. He is also a Commander of the Order of Merit of the French Republic.



This reading of Ackerman fails to account for Ackerman's many arguments for judicial review in a democratic constitution, such as his Storrs Lecture, when he noted that judicial review "is part of a larger theme that distinguishes the American Constitution from other, less durable, frameworks for liberal democracy." As one of three principles of the economy of virtue, Ackerman sees a constitutional design for judicial review "that gives judges special incentives to uphold the integrity of earlier constitutional solutions against the pulling and hauling of normal politics." Ackerman has refined this approach but still asserts "I refuse to join in the general retreat from judicial review that characterizes the contemporary work of many liberal constitutionalists.".


Fellow American Academy Arts and Sciences. Member American Law Institute.


Married Susan Gould Rose, May 29, 1967. Children: Sybil Rose, John Mill.

Nathan Ackerman

Jean (Rosenberg) Ackerman

Susan Gould Rose

Sybil Rose Ackerman

John Mill Ackerman