Thomas Healy   

Thomas Healy

Professor of Law

Professor Thomas Healy researches and writes in the fields of constitutional law, freedom of speech, legal history, civil rights, and federal courts. 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, was 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. His latest book, “Soul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of American Utopia,” chronicles the 1970s attempt to build a city dedicated to racial equality on a former slave plantation in rural North Carolina. Professor Healy has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Public Scholar Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has also been a Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University and 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 Law, 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 New York Times, 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.



Holmes's Other Metaphor, 51 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1 (2020)

Return of the Campus Speech Wars, 117 Mich. L. Rev. 1063 (2019)

Anxiety and Influence: Learned Hand and the Making of a Free Speech Dissent, 50 Ariz. St. L. J. 803 (2018)

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)


Soul City: Race, Equality, and The Lost Dream of an American Utopia, Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt (2021)

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 Unlikely Birth of Free Speech, The New York Times (Nov. 9, 2019)

Who's Afraid of Free Speech?  What Critics of Campus Protest Get Wrong About the State of Public Discourse, The Atlantic (2017) (<a href="" target="_blank">longer version</a> 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)


Full list of presentations available in Curriculum Vitae

Abrams at 100: A Reassessment of Holmes's "Great Dissent,", Columbia Law School (Nov. 8, 2019) (Panelist)

Free Speech and Higher Education: A Crisis?, Seton Hall University School of Law (March 14, 2019) (Moderator)

Oliver Wendell Holmes and the First Amendment, James Otis Lecture, Fanueil Hall, Boston M.A. (September 24, 2018) (Presenter)

Soul City: Race, Equality, and The Lost Dream of an American Utopia, Seton Hall University School of Law (February 2018) (Presenter)

Soul City: Race, Equality, and The Lost Dream of an American Utopia, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina (July 2018) (Presenter)

The Great Dissent, New Jersey Judicial College, Newark, N.J. (November 19, 2018) (Presenter)

The Great Dissent, New Jersey Appellate Division Education Conference, Princeton, N.J. (September 5, 2018) (Presenter)

Soul City: Race, Equality, and The Lost Dream of an American Utopia, Hutchins Center, Harvard University (September 2016) (Presenter)