Ilya Somin

Professor of Law

BA, Amherst College; MA, Harvard University; JD, Yale University

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Biographical Sketch

ILYA SOMIN is Professor of Law at George Mason University and the B. Kenneth Simon Chair in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute. His research focuses on constitutional law, property law, democratic theory, federalism, and migration rights.  He is the author of Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom (Oxford University Press,  revised and expanded edition, 2022), Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter (Stanford University Press, revised and expanded second edition, 2016), and The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain (University of Chicago Press, 2015, rev. paperback ed., 2016), coauthor of A Conspiracy Against Obamacare: The Volokh Conspiracy and the Health Care Case (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), and co-editor of Eminent Domain: A Comparative Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2017).  Democracy and Political Ignorance has been translated into Italian and Japanese.

Somin’s work has appeared in numerous scholarly journals, including the Yale Law JournalStanford Law ReviewNorthwestern University Law ReviewGeorgetown Law JournalCritical Review, and others. Somin has also published articles in a variety of popular press outlets, including the New York Times, Washington PostWall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times,  CNN, NBC, The AtlanticUSA Today, Boston Globe, US News and World Report,  South China Morning PostNational Law Journal and Reason. He has been quoted or interviewed by the New York TimesWashington PostWall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, The Economist, the Christian Science Monitor,  the Financial TimesThe Guardian, the Associated Press, CBS, MSNBC, NPR, BBC, Reuters, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Al Jazeera, and the Voice of America, among other media.

Somin’s writings have been cited in decisions by the United States Supreme Court, multiple state supreme courts and lower federal courts, and the Supreme Court of Israel. He has testified on the use of drones for targeted killing in the War on Terror before the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights. In 2009, he testified on property rights issues at the United States Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Somin writes regularly for the popular Volokh Conspiracy law and politics blog, now affiliated with Reason magazine (previously affiliated with the Washington Post from 2014 to 2017). From 2006 to 2013, he served as Co-Editor of the Supreme Court Economic Reviewone of the country’s top-rated law and economics journals.

Somin has served as a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He has also been a visiting professor or scholar at the Georgetown University Law Center, the University of Hamburg, Germany, the University of Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Zhengzhou University in China. He is a University Affiliate of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, and an affiliated faculty member of the George Mason University Institute for Immigration Research.  Before joining the faculty at George Mason, Somin was the John M. Olin Fellow in Law at Northwestern University Law School in 2002-2003.  In 2001-2002, he clerked for the Hon. Judge Jerry E. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Professor Somin earned his BA, Summa Cum Laude, at Amherst College, MA in Political Science from Harvard University, and JD from Yale Law School.