Working Group on Law and Democracy

Robert Chesney

JD, Harvard University

Robert Chesney



Bobby Chesney is the Charles I. Francis Professor in Law at the University of Texas School of Law, a Distinguished Scholar of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution. His scholarship examines legal and policy questions associated with U.S. national security, including but not limited to terrorism-related issues. In 2009, Professor Chesney served in the Justice Department in connection with the Detainee Policy Task Force created by Executive Order 13493, and he also previously served the Intelligence Community as an associate member of the Intelligence Science Board. He currently is a member of the Advisory Committee of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Law and National Security, a senior editor for the Journal of National Security Law & Policy, a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the American Law Institute. He is a past chair of Section on National Security Law of the Association of American Law Schools (as well as the AALS Section on New Law Teachers) and a past editor of the National Security Law Report (published by the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Law and National Security). Professor Chesney has published on an array of topics, including military detention (both from a domestic and an international law perspective), civilian criminal prosecution in terrorism-related cases, and civil litigation involving the state secrets privilege. Pending projects include two books under contract with Oxford University Press (one concerning the evolution of detention law and policy and the other examining the judicial role in national security affairs).

Professor Chesney's scholarship is posted on SSRN here. He also blogs frequently at, and operates a listserv for those interested in following national security law developments (to join the listserv, just send him an email with a request to that effect). Professor Chesney is a magna cum laude graduate of both Texas Christian University and Harvard Law School. After law school he clerked for the Honorable Lewis A. Kaplan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and the Honorable Robert D. Sack of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He then practiced with the firm Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York (litigation), before beginning his academic career with Wake Forest University School of Law. There he received a teacher of the year award from the student body in one year, and from the Dean in another. In 2008 he came to the University of Texas School of Law as a visiting professor, and then joined UT on a permanent basis in 2009. He is currently serving as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (Faculty).

The course website for Professor Chesney's Con Law class (as taught in fall '10; please note that this site will be updated for fall '12) is posted here. For the spring 2012 course National Security Law, click here. For the my spring 2012 seminar ("Terrorism: History, Law, and Policy"), click here. For last spring's seminar Law, National Security, and the Courts, click here.


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