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Judge William Hawley Atwell Chair of Constitutional Law, Professor of Law and Former Dean

Email: jba@mail.smu.edu

Phone: 214-768-7011


B.A., 1976, University of Virginia
J.D., 1979, New York University
Diploma in Law, 1982, University of Oxford (Oriel College)
LL.M., 1985, Yale University

In 2013-14, John B. Attanasio was Distinguished Visiting Fellow at New York University Law School.  From 1998 to 2013, he served for three terms as Dean, the last five years as the inaugural Judge James Noel Dean. Previously, he was Dean of Saint Louis University School of Law, and Professor of Law and John M. Regan, Jr. Director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
Since 1995, Attanasio has co-organized seven Summits between Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and other highest courts including the European Court of Justice, and the highest courts of Russia, Germany, and Italy. Three were co-organized with then Dean John Sexton of NYU Law School. Ten different U.S. Supreme Court Justices have participated in at least one of these Summits. In 1992, he organized the first visit of the Russian Constitutional Court to the United States and their first meeting with Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
From 2002-2012, Attanasio was Principal Investigator and Director of the Rule of Law Forum, which was funded by $3.2 million in federal grants. Under the auspices of the State Department, Attanasio organized twelve high-ranking delegations of 15- 25 members from China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia (2), Egypt, Brunei, Oman (2), Bahrain, Kyrgyzstan and Saudi Arabia for a week of meetings with high-ranking American leaders.  Delegates met with four different U.S. Supreme Court Justices; sixteen different U.S. Senators; three Attorneys General; the U.S. Trade Representative; three Deputy Secretaries of State; White House Counsel; Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the New York and Dallas Federal Reserve Banks, the NYSE and NASDAQ; CEOs; and SMU professors.
Attanasio co-authors a constitutional law casebook (five editions) and a constitutional law treatise (four editions).  Co-authors have included the late Norman Redlich former Dean and Weinfeld Professor at NYU Law School, the late Bernard Schwartz of NYU and Joel Goldstein, Immel Professor at Saint Louis University School of Law. With Professor Joseph Norton of SMU, he has co-edited books on unilateralism versus multilateralism, and the 1998 global financial crisis, both published by the British Institute.  Topics of his journal articles include: aggregate autonomy, regulating genetic engineering, higher education, lawyer advertising and sexual harassment, and have been published in the New York University Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, Virginia Law Review, Georgetown Law Review, the American Journal of Comparative Law (Berkeley), Journal of College and University Law, Journal of Legal Education, and Oxford University Press, among others.  He serves as co-editor-in-chief of The International Lawyer.
Attanasio has advised many governmental institutions. He has lectured in over 30 countries, and organized many academic and policy conferences. He has interviewed Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer for public lectures. From 2000 to 2007, he chaired the American Bar Association's Out-of-the-Box Committee on the Future of American Legal Education. In 2002, Attanasio helped secure SMU Law School as headquarters for the Appellate Judges Education Institute, which attracts over 100 appellate judges to its annual conference.  Five different Supreme Court Justices have participated in at least one; some have participated in several.   
As Dean of SMU Law, Attanasio raised over $115 million in gifts and pledges; the book value of the endowment increased from $22 million to over $59 million. Most gifts were for endowed student scholarships and faculty chairs. The median LSAT of entering full-time students increased from 73-74 percentile (157) to 91.5 percentile (165) in 2011.  The entering full-time 2012 class had a 164 LSAT (28th in the country). The median GPA increased from a 3.17 to a 3.73 in 2012 (tied for 18th in the country).  Minority student enrolment approximately doubled. The number of international LL.M.’s tripled.
In placement, he co-organized the “Test Drive” and “Partners to Practice” programs which were featured in the National Law Journal, the New York Times and WallStreetJournal.com. Charting the progress made in placement during his time as Dean, several new placement-focused rankings came out in Spring 2013 listing SMU Dedman Law:  20th and 27th (the National Law Journal), 15th (the Atlantic), 22nd (Above the Law), and 19th (the Faculty Lounge). An April 2013 article on the front page of the Business Section of the Dallas Morning News listed SMU Dedman Law 1st placement in the State of Texas.
Attanasio received a B.A. from the University of Virginia in the interdisciplinary major Social Systems, a J.D. from New York University, a Dipl. in Law from Oxford and an LL.M. from Yale. During the Spring semester of 1990, he was the first Fulbright award recipient to teach courses on American constitutional law in the former Soviet Union.  Among other awards, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award in Education from the NYU School of Law and the Outstanding Faculty Member award from Notre Dame.

Primary Articles

Rapporteur's Overview and Conclusions: of Sovereignty, Globalization, and Courts in INTERNATIONAL LAW DECISIONS IN NATIONAL COURTS 373-395 (Transnational Publishers, Inc., 1996); 28 N. Y. U. J. INT'L L. & POL. 1-33 (1996).

The Principle of Aggregate Autonomy and the Calabresian Approach to Products Liability, 74 VA. L. REV. 677-748 (1988).

Does the First Amendment Guarantee a Right to Conduct Scientific Experiments? 14 J. C. & U. L. 435-68 (1988) (Bicentennial of the Constitution issue).

The Constitutionality of Regulating Human Genetic Engineering: Where Procreative Liberty and Equal Opportunity Collide, 53 U. of CHI. L. REV. 1274-1342 (1986).

Everyman's Constitutional Law: A Theory Of The Power Of Judicial Review, 72 GEO. L. J. 1665-1723 (1984).

Lawyer Advertising in England and the United States, 32 AM. J.COMP. L. 493-541 (1984).

Equal Justice Under Chaos: The Developing Law of Sexual Harassment, 51 U. CIN. L. REV. 1-41 (1982), synopsized at 32 LAW REV. DIG. 14 (1983).

Review Essays

The Genetic Revolution: What Lawyers Don't Know, 63 N.Y.U. L. REV. 662-716(1988).

Book Chapters

Introduction: Multilateralism, Unilateralism, and Leadership, in MULTILATERALISM V. UNILATERALISM: POLICY CHOICES IN A GLOBAL SOCIETY, Vol. 1 (11-23)

"Aggregate Autonomy, the Difference Principle, and the Calabresian Approach to Products Liability," in Philosophical Foundations of Tort Law  (David Owen, ed., Oxford University Press, 1995)
"Personal Freedoms and Economic Liberties: American Judicial Policy Essays," in Deutschland und sein Grundgesetz  (Paul Kirchhof and Donald Kommers, ed., Nomos, 1993)


CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 5TH EDITION, with co-authors N. Redlich and J. Goldstein (2008).

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, with co-authors N. Redlich and J. Goldstein (Supps 2008-2013).

N. Redlich, B. Schwartz, J. Attanasio and J. Goldstein, UNDERSTANDING CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (4th ed. 2012).

UNDERSTANDING CONSTITUTIONAL LAW with co-authors N. Redlich and J. Goldstein (Supps 2012-13).




● Lecturer: " The Summits between the U.S. Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice and Their Importance to the Rule of Law" at a seminar on "The Court of Justice of the European Union and the Supreme Court of the United States: Comparative Perspectives and Judicial Dialogue" sponsored by The Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance at the University of Luxembourg. Other panelists were the Counselor to the Chief Justice of the United States and the Legal Secretary to the President of the European Court of Justice. (Luxembourg, February12, 2014).

● Co-Moderator: Panel on "Standards of review and judicial discretion with regard to lower Courts and State Courts" at the Luxembourg Forum between members of the U.S. Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito and O'Connor and President Vassilios Skouris and all of the members of the European Court of Justice participated. Other faculty moderators were from Yale, NYU, Columbia & Michigan. (Luxembourg, February 9-11, 2014). 

● Panelist: "Productively Participating in Institutional Governance," AALS Presidential Workshop on Tomorrow's Law Schools: Economics, Governance and Justice, Association of American Law Schools 2014 Annual Meeting. (New York, NY, January 5, 2014).

● Lecturer: "Five Themes of American Law" at the International Congress Abogacia 2013, hosted by the Cuban National Organization of Collective Law Firms and co-sponsored by the National Union of Jurists and Havana University School of Law. Only American speaker at the conference. (Havana, Cuba, November 21, 2013).

● Moderator: "Supreme Court Preview-2013 Term" panel featuring Judge Danny Boggs, U.S. Court of Appeals (Sixth Circuit) and Professor Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School at the Appellate Judges Education Institute Annual Summit. (San Diego, CA, November 15, 2013).

● Moderator: "Judicial Selection & Disqualification," panel featuring Sarah Parker, Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court; Thomas Philips, former Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court; and Ruth Mc Gregor, former Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court at the Appellate Judges Education Institute Annual Summit. Served as the facilitator of a judges-only discussion on these issues at a luncheon following the panel. About 80 state and federal appellate court judges participated in the discussion. (San Diego, CA, November 15, 2013).

● Lecturer: “The Rule of Law, Rule of Law Forum and Democracy” at the Magna Carta Discussion Forum at the Dallas Bar Association. (Dallas, TX, October 9, 2013).
● Lecturer: "Women’s Rights in Education in the United States” at the 4th International Media Conference on Violence Against the Girl Child, City Montessori School. (Lucknow, India, September 22, 2013).
● Lecturer: “Constitutional Protection for Interfaith Dialogue” at the 4th International Conference on Promoting Interfaith Dialogue in Multi-Religious Communities, City Montessori School. (Lucknow, India, September 21, 2013).
● Facilitator: Roundtable on Cyber-terrorism at the America’s Future Series Summit on Cyber Security, sponsored by the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber, Dallas Regional Chamber and the World Affairs Council of Dallas. (Irving, TX, June 27, 2013).
● Invited Workshop Participant: “The Role of the Highest Egyptian Courts between 2000 and 2013” at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies Working Group on the Arab Transformative Movements at Harvard University. (Cambridge, MA, April 24, 2013).
● Lecturer: “The Current Constitutional Crisis in Egypt” at Tsinghua University Law School. (Beijing, China, March 14, 2013).
● Lecturer: “The Current Constitutional Crisis in Egypt” at the Centre for Comparative and Public Law at the Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong. (Hong Kong, March 11, 2013).
● Lecturer: “The Egyptian Constitutional Crisis” at the conference on “The Arab Spring: Doing Business and the Rule of Law”, co-sponsored by SMU Dedman School of Law and the ABA Section of International Law. (Dallas, Texas, February 7, 2013).
● Lecturer: “The Egyptian Constitutional Crisis” at the Institute of Diplomatic Studies at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Saudi Arabia. (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 18, 2012).
● Panelist: “Future of Legal Education” at the Summit of Legal Education in a New Industrialization Era and the 15th Anniversary Celebration of Beihang University Law School, held by the Steering Committee on Legal Education in Colleges and Universities under the Ministry of Education of P.R.C., China Association for Legal Education and Beihang University Law School. Panelists included the deans of most major Chinese law schools; only American law school dean presenting (Beijing, China, November 25, 2012).
● Panelist: “From Pledges, Goals, and Forums to Action on the Ground: Platforms, Challenges, Opportunities and the Way Forward on Rule of Law Promotion Efforts” at the ABA Section of International Law Fall meeting. Other panelists included the Deputy General Counsel of the World Bank, the Vice President of the International Division, Americas, of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the President and President-Elect of the ABA. (Miami, FL, October 19, 2012).
● Lecturer: “Marbury v. Madison” and “Five Themes of American Constitutional Law” to: the Academy of American and International Law of the Center for American International Law (Plano, TX, May 23, 2012).
● Lecturer: Six-hour workshop on “Theoretical and Practical Issues in Developing and Amending the Constitution” at the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice. (Hanoi, Vietnam, December 23, 2011).
● Lecturer: Six-hour workshop on “U.S. Experience in Developing and Amending the Constitution” at the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice. (Hanoi, Vietnam, December 22, 2011).
● Panelist: Conference on “The Situation in Egypt in the Run-up to the Constitutional Referendum”. (Cairo, Egypt, March 17, 2011).
● Lecturer: “The Road to Kabul Goes Through Delhi” at Radio Free Europe /Radio Liberty (Prague, Czech Republic, July 27, 2010).


Cinco Temas del Derecho Estadounidense, BOLETIN ONBC, no.50, 10-18 (October-December 2013).

Renvoi: From State Sovereignty to Dual Sovereignty to National Sovereignty to Dual Sovereignty, Uni Dem Seminar, Venice Commission (22 pgs.) (2003).
Foreword: The Out-of-the-Box Dialogues – The Langdellian Paradigm, 52 J. Legal Educ. 473-479 (2002).
Foreword: The Limits of Globalization?, 36 Int’l. Law 1-8 (2002) (Co-authored with Don De Amicis).
Foreword: Airline Security: A Double Entendre of Safety and Survival, 67 J. Air L. & Com. 3-6 (Winter 2002).
Tradition, 55 SMU L. Rev. 15-21 (2002).
The Right to Life Under the United States Constitution, in Fundamental Rights in Europe and North America (Part B) (10 pgs.) (2002).
Concretization of and Limitations on Fundamental Rights, in Fundamental Rights in Europe and North America (Part A) (6 pgs.) (2001).
Foreword: Recent Financial Crises and a New Financial Architecture, in A New International Financial Architecture: A Viable Approach, Sir Joseph Gold Memorial Series Vol. 3 (xix-xxvii) (2001).
Foreword: Juries Rule, 54 SMU L. Rev. 1681-1689 (2001).
Science Tests Human Dignity: The Challenges of Genetic Engineering, 53 SMU L. Rev. 455-459 (2000).
Foreword: The Brave New World of Multidisciplinary Practice, 50 J. Legal Educ. 469-472 (2000).
Interconnection of Legal/Constitutional Reform and Economic Reform-Success? 34 Int’l. Law. 201-206 (Spring 2000).
Partnerships, Joint Ventures and Other Forms for Building Global Law Schools, 18 Dick. J. Int’l L. 483-487 (2000).
Foreword: The Asian Financial Contagion - A Global Epidemic, 33 Int’l. Law. 847-853 (1999).
Foreword: Challenges, 52 SMU L. Rev. 1523-1528 (1999).
Foreword: Stages of Federalism?  42 St. Louis U. L. J. 485-495 (1998).
Foreword: Freedom! 41 St. Louis U. L. J. 1243-48 (1997).

Foreword: The Globalization of the American Law School, 46 J. Legal Educ. 311-12 (1996).

Foreword: The Economic Contingency of Legal Rights? 39 St. Louis U. L. J.1163-66 (1995).
Federalism in the United States: Basic Elements and Chances for Survival, Saint Louis-Warsaw Transatlantic L. J. 121-131 (1995).
Freedom of Speech in the United States, 37-43, in First Amendment Freedoms and Constitution-writing in Poland (American Studies Center, University of Warsaw, 1995).
Foreword: The Russian Constitutional Court and the State of Russian Constitutionalism, 38 St. Louis U. L. J. 889-93 (1994).
Foreword: Post-Recertification German Constitutionalism, 38 St. Louis U. L. J. 317-18 (1993).
Foreword: The First American Visit of the Russian Constitutional Court, 37 St. Louis U. L. J. 305-306 (1993).
The Federalism, Judicial, and Transition Provisions of the New Russian Constitution, 1-31, prepared for the Central and Eastern European Law Initiative of the American Bar Association (December 1993).
Some Nuts and Bolts of Dispute Resolution, in The Cairo Proceedings - a book of the Proceedings of the First Conference of the Joint Program on Conflict Resolution held in Cairo, Egypt, Nov., 1991.
Foreword: Verstehen and Dispute Resolution for the Symposium on Theories of Conflict Resolution in 67 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1317-33 (1992).
Foreword: The Rights of Ethnic Minorities: The Emerging Mosaic, 66 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1195-1217 (1991).
Elements of American Constitutionalism, IV Studia Juridica: Historia et Theoria (Tartu, Estonia:, USSR 1990).
Foreword: The Impoverished States of Law and Morality, 64 Notre Dame L. Rev. 773-83 (1989).
The Research Librarian in the Educational Mission of the Law School, 81 L. Lib. J. 143-51 (1989).
Foreword: A Duty-Oriented Procedure in a Rights-Oriented Society, 63 Notre Dame L. Rev. 597-608 (1988).
Foreword: The Tension Between Intervention and Resignation, 14 J. Legis. 127-31 (1987).