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Thomas Healy   


Professor of Law

Professor Thomas Healy writes about freedom of speech, the methods of judicial decision-making, and the role of courts in a democracy. His book "The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind – and Changed the History of Free Speech in America" won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award, and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Award. It was also selected as a New York Times Book Review editor's choice and was named one of the fifteen best non-fiction books of 2013 by the Christian Science Monitor. He is currently at work on a book about a forgotten chapter of the civil rights movement, for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Public Scholar Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. During the fall 2016 semester, he was a Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is currently a visiting fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Culture at Columbia Law School.

Professor Healy received his B.A. in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was a James Kent Scholar, Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and Book Review and Essay Editor of the Columbia Law Review. Prior to joining Seton Hall, he clerked for Judge Michael Daly Hawkins on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and was an associate at Sidley Austin Brown and Wood in Washington D.C., where he practiced appellate litigation and worked on several cases before the United States Supreme Court. He also worked for many years as a newspaper reporter, first in North Carolina and later as Supreme Court Correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. He has written essays and book reviews for The Atlantic, The Nation, The L.A. Review of Books, and other publications.

Professor Healy teaches the required course in Constitutional Law and electives in First Amendment, Federal Courts, and Criminal Procedure. He was named Professor of the Year by the student body in 2008-09 and Faculty Researcher of the Year by Seton Hall University in 2015.



The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind – and Changed the History of Free Speech in America, Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt (2013)


The Justice Who Changed His Mind: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and the Story Behind Abrams v. United States, 39 J. Sup. Ct. Hist. (May 2014)

The Hard Case and The Good Judge, 43 Ariz. St. L.J. 39 (2011) (tribute essay)

Brandenburg in a Time of Terror, 84 Notre Dame L. Rev. 655 (2009) (reprinted in First Amendment Law Handbook, Rodney M. Smolla, ed. 2009)

Stare Decisis and the Constitution: Four Questions and Answers, 83 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1173 (2008)

Stigmatic Harm and Standing, 92 Iowa L. Rev. 417 (2007)

The Rise of Unnecessary Constitutional Rulings, 83 North Carolina L. Rev. 847 (2005)

Stare Decisis as a Constitutional Requirement, 104 W. Va. L. Rev. 43 (2001)

Note, Is Missouri v. Holland Still Good Law? Federalism and the Treaty Power, 98 Colum. L. Rev. 1726 (1998)


Who's Afraid of Free Speech? What Critics of Campus Protest Get Wrong About the State of Public Discourse, The Atlantic (2017) (longer version published by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University)

A Supreme Legacy:  The Conservative Legacy of the Burger Court Lives on in the Precedents it Set, The Nation (Jun. 23, 2016)

Brandeis's Brain, L.A. Review of Books (Aug. 8, 2016) (On "Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet")

Going Negative: The Importance of Judicial Dissent, Boston Review (Nov. 12, 2015)

A Review of “The Battle Over School Prayer: How Engel v. Vitale Changed America”, 122 Pol. Sci. Q. 4 (Winter 2007)

A Review of Jeffrey Rosen’s “The Most Democratic Branch: How the Courts Serve America", (Aug. 4, 2006)

Will the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Finally Be Split? If So, the Reason Will Be Politics, Not Caseload, (Sept. 25, 2006)