Stephen Wermiel

Professor of Practice of Law

Office: Room 357
Phone: 202-274-4263
E-mail: vCard


Stephen Wermiel is a Professor of Practice in Constitutional Law and associate director of the Summer Institute on Law and Government at American University Washington College of Law. He is past chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities (IRR) and author of a biweekly column on SCOTUSblog aimed at explaining the Supreme Court to law students. He is co-author of JUSTICE BRENNAN: LIBERAL CHAMPION, the definitive biography of the late Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr., published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in hardcover 2010 and by University Press of Kansas in paperback in 2013. He is also co-author of THE PROGENY: JUSTICE WILLIAM J. BRENNAN’S FIGHT TO PRESERVE THE LEGACY OF NEW YORK TIMES V. SULLIVAN, PUBLISHED BY ABA PUBLISHING IN 2014. At the Washington College of Law, he serves as an adviser to and was past associate director of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, in which Washington College of Law students teach constitutional law in the public high schools of Washington, D.C. He also is faculty adviser to the Moot Court Honor Society and serves on the advisory boards of the Administrative Law Review and the Journal of Gender, Social Policy and Law. In the ABA, Wermiel is a member of the Standing Committee on Public Education, serves as chair of the publications committee of IRR, and is a member of the editorial advisory board of Communications Lawyer, the quarterly publication of the Forum on Communications Law.

Wermiel holds expertise in the U.S. Supreme Court, having covered the court for the Wall Street Journal from 1979 until 1991. During his 12-year tenure at the Journal, he covered and interpreted more than 1,300 Supreme Court decisions and analyzed trends on a broad array of legal issues. Wermiel teaches constitutional law, First Amendment and a seminar on the workings of the Supreme Court. Early in his career, Wermiel was a Washington correspondent for the Boston Globe. While teaching in Atlanta in the 1990’s, he served on the board of directors and on the legal committee of the ACLU of Georgia. He earned his B.A. from Tufts University in 1972 and his J.D. from the Washington College of Law. He is a member of the D.C. Bar.



Areas of Specialization

  • Constitutional Law
  • First Amendment
  • The Supreme Court

Degrees & Universities

  • J.D., American University Washington College of Law 1982
  • A.B., Tufts University 1972

  • Selected Publications

    • Seth Stern & Stephen Wermiel, Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion (Hougton Mifflin Harcourt 2010).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Supreme Court Reversals: Exploring the Seventh Circuit, 30 So. Ill. U. L.J. 641 (2008).
    • Stephen Wermiel, David Hackett Souter, in Biographical Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court (CQ Press 2006).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Bush v. Gore, in The Public Debate Over Controversial Supreme Court Decisions (CQ Press 2006).
    • Stephen Wermiel, William Joseph Brennan, Jr., in Biographical Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court (CQ Press 2006).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Exploring The Myths About The Ninth Circuit, 48 Ariz. L. Rev. 355 (2006).
    • + More Publications...

    • Stephen Wermiel, Human Rights, ().
    • Stephen Wermiel, Justice Brennan and Federalism, in Encyclopedia of American Federalism (Joseph Marbach, Ellis Katz, & Troy Smith, eds., Greenwood Press 2005).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Essay on Justice Brennan, in Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law (Yale U. Press 2004).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Stump Speech: Even Saving Judicial Independence Can't Justify Ending First Amendment Protection of Some Political Speech, Leg. Times 46 (2002).
    • Ency. of Am. L. Nazi March in Skokie, Facts on File (2002).
    • Ency. of Am. L. Terry v. Ohio, Facts on File (2002).
    • Ency. of Am. L. Schenck v. US, Facts on File (2002).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Clarence Thomas After Ten Years: Some Reflections, 10 Am. U. J. Gender Soc. Policy & L. 315 (2002).
    • Stephen Wermiel, William J. Brennan, Jr., in Oxford Companion to American Law (Oxford U. Press 2002).
    • Ency. of Am. L. William J. Brennan Jr., Facts on File (2002).
    • Ency. of Am. L. Student Rights, Facts on File (2002).
    • Stephen Wermiel, What's On The Lineup for Next Term? Affirmative Action, Death Penalty, Public Protests, and Scope of the ADA are Among Issues Already Accepted, Leg. Times 15 (2001).
    • Stephen Wermiel, William J. Brennan, Jr., in American National Biography Online (Oxford U. Press 2001) (reprinted in American National Biography (Print Supp.), 2002).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Respect for the Judiciary: The News Media and the Courts in the United States, Konstitutsionnoye Pravo - Vostochnoevropeyskoye Obozreniye (Russian Inst. L. & Pub. Policy) (2001).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Court Escapes By Dubious Means, Leg. Times 57 (2000).
    • Stephen Wermiel, First Monday: When they Hear These Nine Disputes Next Fall, the Justices may be Sitting in the Glare of the Electoral Spotlight, Leg. Times 62 (2000).
    • Stephen Wermiel, The Bill of Rights and the Constitution: Facing the Challenge of the New Millennium, 27 Hum. Rights 5 (Summer, 2000).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Privacy, Pursuit, and Politics: Fall Docket Already Presents a Wide Variety of Hot-button Issues, Leg. Times S35 (1999).
    • Stephen Wermiel, News Media Coverage of the United States Supreme Court, 42 St. Louis U. L J. 1059 (1999).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Book Review: Closed Chambers, by Edward Lazarus, 84 ABA J. 94 (June 1998).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Law and Human Dignity: The Judicial Soul of Justice Brennan, 7 Wm. & Mary Bill Rights. J. 223 (1998).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Let Them Talk Among Themselves, Leg. Times S46 (1997).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Celebrating Brennan, 83 ABA J. 96 (1997).
    • Stephen Wermiel, The Civil Opinions of Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch: A Tribute, 13 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 335 (1997).
    • Stephen Wermiel Equal Protection after Romer v. Evans and US v. Virginia ( 1996) (CLE Inst. of Ga.).
    • Stephen Wermiel, The Nomination of Justice Brennan: Eisenhower's Mistake? A Look at the Historical Record, 11 Const. Commentary 515 (1995).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Writing Supreme Court Biography: A Single Lens View of a Nine-Sided Image, 1994 J. S. Ct. History 9 (1995).
    • Stephen Wermiel, A Claim of Sexual Harassment, in A Year in the Life of the Supreme Court (Rodney A. Smolla, ed., Duke U. Press 1995).
    • Stephen Wermiel, William J. Brennan Jr., in The Supreme Court Justices A Biographical Dictionary (Melvin Urofsky, ed., Garland Publishing 1994).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Confirming the Constitution: The Role of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 56 L. & Contemp. Probs. 121 (1993).
    • Stephen Wermiel, William J. Brennan Jr., in The Supreme Court Justices Illustrated Biographies 1789-1993 (Clare Cushman, ed., Congressional Q. 1993).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Rights in the Modern Era: Applying the Bill of Rights to the States, 1 Wm. & Mary Bill Rights J. 121 (1992).
    • Stephen Wermiel, O'Connor: A Dual Role-An Introduction, 13 Women's Rights L. Rep. 129 (1992).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Appointment Controversies and the Supreme Court, 84 Nw. U. L. Rev. 1033 (1990).
    • Stephen Wermiel, 10-Part Series on the Constitution for the Bicentennial, Wall St. J. (1987).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Lead Article in Series on the "Liability Crisis", Wall St. J. (1987).
  • + Selected Presentations

    • Stephen Wermiel, Panelist, A Conversation with Gideon Supreme Court Clerks, Litigators, and Scholars (Considering Gideon at 50: The History and Future of Indigent Defense, American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, D.C., Mar. 21, 2013).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Panelist, Fall Supreme Court Preview (Institute of Bill of Rights Law, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va., 1989 to date).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Panelist, Judicial Biography (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Wash., D.C., 2004).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Speech, Public Interest Litigation and Constitutional Law (Public Interest Public Service Scholars, American University, Washington College of Law, Wash., D.C., Jan. 2004).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Speech, Why Fear the Student Press? (Journalism Education Association National Conference, Wash., D.C., 2003).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Panelist, Preview of the New Supreme Court Term (Alumni Weekend CLE Program, American University Washington College of Law, Wash., D.C., 2003).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Presentation, Looking Ahead at the New Supreme Court (Program on Law and Government's Annual Program, American University Washington College of Law, Wash., D.C., Oct. 2003).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Panelist, Annual Fall Supreme Court Preview (Institute of Bill of Rights Law, Marshall-Wythe School of Law, College of Williams and Mary, Williamsburg, Va., Oct. 2003).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Discussiuon, Discussed Constitutional Law Issues with Foreign JD students at WCL (Washington College of Law, Wash., D.C., Oct. 2003).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Panel, Judicial Selection (Women's Law Association, Law and Government Society and American Constitution Society, Washington College of Law, Wash., D.C., Oct. 2003).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Lecture, Role-Playing Exercise on a Mock Supreme Court Nomination (The Washington Lawyer Seminar, 2003).
    • Stephen Wermiel, Panelist, News Media Attitudes About the Federal Courts (Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, 2003).
  • + Selected Media Appearances


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