|Born||Laurence Henry Tribe
October 10, 1941
|Institutions||Harvard Law School|
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
|Notable students||President Barack Obama
Chief Justice John Roberts
|Spouse||Carolyn Ricarda Kreye (1964-present; 2 children)|
Laurence Henry Tribe (born October 10, 1941) is a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School and the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University. He also works with the firm Massey & Gail LLP on a variety of matters.
Tribe is a liberal scholar of constitutional law. He is the author of American Constitutional Law (1978), a treatise in that field, and has argued before the United States Supreme Court 36 times. On May 22, 2013, he was presented with an honorary doctorate, Doctor of Letters, from Columbia University during the Class of 2013 commencement.
Tribe was born in Shanghai, China, the son of Paulina (née Diatlovitsky) and George Israel Tribe. His parents were Ashkenazi Jews. His father was from Poland and his mother was born in Harbin, to a family of immigrants from Eastern Europe. He was raised in the French Quarter of Shanghai. He attended Abraham Lincoln High School, San Francisco, California. He holds an A.B. in mathematics, summa cum laude from Harvard College (1962), and a J.D., magna cum laude from Harvard Law School (1966), where he was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. Tribe won the intercollegiate National Debate Tournament in 1961 and coached the Harvard debating team to another national championship in 1969.
Tribe served as a law clerk to Mathew Tobriner on the California Supreme Court from 1966–67 and as a law clerk to Potter Stewart of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1967–68. He joined the Harvard Law School faculty as an assistant professor in 1968, receiving tenure in 1972. Among his distinguished law students and research assistants while on the faculty at Harvard have been Barack Obama (a research assistant for two years), Chief Justice John Roberts (as a law student in his classes), and Elena Kagan (as a research assistant).
The Supreme Court ruled against Tribe's client in Bowers v. Hardwick in 1986 and held that a Georgia state law criminalizing sodomy, as applied to consensual acts between persons of the same sex, did not violate fundamental liberties under the principle of substantive due process. However, in 2003 the Supreme Court overruled Bowers in Lawrence v. Texas, a case for which Tribe wrote the ACLU's amicus curiae brief supporting Lawrence, who was represented by Lambda Legal.
In 2004, Tribe acknowledged having plagiarized several specific phrases and a sentence in his 1985 book, God Save this Honorable Court, to a 1974 book by Henry Abraham. After an investigation, Tribe was reprimanded by Harvard for "a significant lapse in proper academic practice" but concluded that Tribe's error was unintentional.
Tribe represented General Electric in its defense against its liability under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act ("Superfund"), in which GE and Tribe unsuccessfully argued that the act unconstitutionally violated General Electric's due process rights.
Tribe is noted for his extensive support of liberal legal causes. He is one of the co-founders of the liberal American Constitution Society, the law and policy organization formed to counter the conservative Federalist Society, and is one of a number of scholars at Harvard Law School who have expressed their support for animal rights. Tribe unsuccessfully argued one case for Al Gore during the disputed 2000 U.S. presidential election.
Alongside Harvard's Cass Sunstein, Tribe served as a judicial adviser to the Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. In February 2010, he was named "Senior Counselor for Access to Justice" in the Department of Justice. He resigned eight months later, claiming health reasons.
Tribe described Justice Antonin Scalia's response and dissent to the 5-4 Windsor v. United States decision as "intemperate", "extraordinary", and "at the very least, an exercise in jurisprudential cynicism". He posited that Scalia appeared unable to resist "the temptation to use the occasion to insult the Court's majority, and Justice Kennedy in particular, in essentially ad hominem ...terms", to wit:
"[P]rincipally to highlight the extraordinary character of this particularly vitriolic and internally inconsistent dissent ... about how the Court should have decided the very controversy that he says wasn't really before it ... [For Scalia to] accuse the majority of arrogance and then reach the merits after saying that the Court lacks jurisdiction to address the case requires no small dose of chutzpah ... Scalia didn't so much as consider the possibility ... that considerations of federalism might point to a particularly rigorous examination of the purported justifications for a measure like Section 3. ... In predicting that the opinion joined by the five Justices comprising today's Windsor majority would invariably lead to the invalidation of state efforts to limit lawful marriage to opposite-sex couples, Justice Scalia was engaging in a bait-and-switch unworthy of so serious and smart a jurist, one who often displays a principled side that even those who dislike his results would be hard-pressed not to admire ...
The following a list of the cases Tribe has argued in the U.S. Supreme Court, complete as of the end of 2005:
|Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia||448 U.S. 555||1981||win|
|Heffron v. International Society for Krishna Consciousness||452 U.S. 640||1981||loss|
|Crawford v. Board of Education||458 U.S. 527||1982||loss|
|Larkin v. Grendel’s Den||459 U.S. 116||1982||win|
|White v. Massachusetts Council||460 U.S. 204||1983||win|
|Pacific Gas & Electric v. California||461 U.S. 190||1983||win|
|Hawaii Housing Auth. v. Midkiff||467 U.S. 229||1984||win|
|Northeast Bancorp v. Fed. Reserve||472 U.S. 159||1985||win|
|National Gay Task Force v. Board of Education||470 U.S. 159||1985||draw|
|Fisher v. City of Berkeley||475 U.S. 260||1986||win|
|Bowers v. Hardwick||478 U.S. 186||1986||loss|
|Pennzoil v. Texaco||481 U.S. 1||1986||win|
|Schweiker v. Chilicky||487 U.S. 412||1988||loss|
|Granfinanciera v. Nordberg||492 U.S. 33||1989||loss|
|Sable Communications v. FCC||492 U.S. 115||1989||draw|
|Adams Fruit v. Barrett||494 U.S. 638||1990||win|
|Rust v. Sullivan||500 U.S. 173||1991||loss|
|Cipollone v. Liggett||505 U.S. 504||1992||win|
|TXO v. Alliance Resources||509 U.S. 443||1993||win|
|Honda Motor Co. v. Oberg||512 U.S. 415||1994||loss|
|U.S. v. Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone||516 U.S. 415||1996||draw|
|Timmons v. Twin Cities Area New Party||520 U.S. 351||1997||loss|
|Vacco v. Quill||521 U.S. 793||1997||loss|
|Amchem Products v. Windsor||521 U.S. 591||1997||win|
|Baker v. General Motors||522 U.S. 222||1998||win|
|AT&T v. Iowa Utilities Board||525 U.S. 366||1999||loss|
|Ortiz v. Fibreboard||527 U.S. 815||1999||win|
|Bush v. Gore I||531 U.S. 70||2000||loss|
|New York Times Co. v. Tasini||533 U.S. 438||2001||loss|
|U.S. v. United Foods||533 U.S. 405||2001||win|
|FCC v. NextWave||537 U.S. 293||2002||win|
|State Farm v. Campbell||538 U.S. 408||2003||loss|
|Nike v. Kasky||539 U.S. 654||2003||loss|
|Johanns v. Livestock Marketing Association||544 U.S. 550||2005||loss|
Tribe has argued 26 cases in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals:
|Worldwide Church of God v. California||623 F.2d 613||9th Cir.||1980||loss|
|Grendel's Den v. Goodwin||662 F.2d 102||1st Cir.||1981||win|
|Pacific Legal Foundation v. State Energy Resources||659 F.2d 903||9th Cir.||1981||win|
|United States v. Sun Myung Moon||718 F.2d 1210||2d Cir.||1983||loss|
|Romany v. Colegio de Abogados||742 F.2d 32||1st Cir.||1984||win|
|Westmoreland v. CBS||752 F.2d 16||2d Cir.||1984||loss|
|Colombrito v. Kelly||764 F.2d 122||2d Cir.||1985||win|
|Texaco v. Pennzoil||784 F.2d 1133||2d Cir.||1986||loss|
|U.S. v. Bank of New England||821 F.2d 844||1st Cir.||1987||loss|
|U.S. v. Gallo||859 F.2d 1078||2d Cir.||1988||loss|
|U.S. v. GAF Corporation||884 F.2d 670||2d Cir.||1989||loss|
|U.S. v. Western Electric Company||900 F.2d 283||D.C. Cir.||1999||win|
|Fineman v. Armstrong World Industries||980 F.2d 171||D.C. Cir.||1992||draw|
|U.S. v. Western Electric Company||993 F.2d 1572||D.C. Cir.||1993||win|
|Lightning Lube v. Witco Corporation||4 F.3d 1153||3d Cir.||1993||draw|
|Hopkins v. Dow Corning Corporation||33 F.3d 1116||9th Cir.||1994||win|
|Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone v. U.S.||42 F.3d 181||4th Cir.||1994||win|
|Georgine v. Amchem Products, Inc.||83 F.3d 610||3d Cir.||1996||win|
|BellSouth Corp. v. F.C.C.||144 F.3d 58||D.C. Cir.||1998||loss|
|SBC Communications v. F.C.C.||154 F.3d 226||5th Cir.||1998||loss|
|City of Dallas v. F.C.C.||F.3d 341||5th Cir.||1999||draw|
|U.S. West v. Tristani||PDF (90.5 KB)||10th Cir.||1999||loss|
|U.S. West v. F.C.C.||PDF (220 KB)||10th Cir.||1999||win|
|Southwest Voter Registration v. Shelley||PDF (23.0 KB)||9th Cir.||2003||loss|
|Pacific Gas and Elec. v. California||PDF (144 KB)||9th Cir.||2003||loss|
|General Electric v. E.P.A.||PDF (49.8 KB)||D.C. Cir.||2004||win|
|This section lacks ISBNs for the books listed in it. (October 2014)|
Tribe has served as lead counsel in 35 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, testified before Congress dozens of times and wrote a major treatise on constitutional law.
Sullivan got her first taste of litigation as a 3L, working with Tribe on a U.S. Supreme Court brief in which the two asserted the right of Hare Krishnas to proselytize at the Minnesota State Fair. Recalling the fledgling attorney, Tribe says, 'Her sense of the most persuasive way to cast the issues and her rhetorical command were remarkable for any lawyer, much less a student. It was clear to me that I was dealing with the most extraordinary student I had ever had.'