Ian C. Bartrum
Associate Professor of Law
B.A., Hamilton College
J.D., Vermont Law School, summa cum laude
LL.M., Yale Law School
Best Known For: Professor Bartrum is quickly earning a national reputation in the field of constitutional interpretive theory. His work in this area applies lessons drawn from postmodern philosophy of language to the study of constitutional argument. Building particularly on the later work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and on the more recent efforts of scholars such as Philip Bobbitt, Bartrum offers a practice-based account of constitutional meaning and explores the practical norms that guide our interpretive choices. His most recent article, Constitutional Value Judgments and Interpretive Theory Choice, forthcoming in the Florida State University Law Review, applies some of Thomas Kuhn’s work in the philosophy of science to the problem of interpretive theory choice in closely contested constitutional cases. The American Association of Law Schools recognized his article, The Constitutional Canon As Argumentative Metonymy, as the Steven Gey Paper in Constitutional Law for 2010.
Also Known For: In addition to his work in constitutional theory, Professor Bartrum is a well-known scholar of law and religion. He has written articles exploring the intellectual history of religious disestablishment, the political history of secular public education, and more recent historiographical battles to influence Supreme Court doctrine on the separation of church and state. Professor Bartrum has also published shorter essays on recent Court decisions such as Pleasant Grove v. Summum, Salazar v. Buono, and EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor. He is a frequent speaker at law and religion symposia, and he regularly comments on religious freedom issues nationally.
Currently Working On: Professor Bartrum’s current project is a book about the modern reemergence of “originalism” as an interpretive movement. Tentatively titled Modern Originalism: The Ideology of Conservative Judicial Activism, the book’s first part explores the intellectual history of the movement through short biographical sketches of leading figures such as Raoul Berger, Robert Bork, Antonin Scalia, Keith Whittington, Randy Barnett, and Lawrence Solum. The second part then critiques two fundamental commitments of the “New Originalism”—the so-called “fixation” and “contribution” theses—and concludes that the originalist movement is more concerned with promoting particular judicial outcomes than with trying to understand the nature of the Constitution as law.
Professor Bartrum joined the faculty at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law in 2011 after teaching for two years at Drake Law School. He also taught at Vermont Law School from 2005 to 2007 and at Yale Law School from 2008 to 2009 as the Irving Ribicoff Fellow. His writing has appeared in the Northwestern University Law Review, the Washington University Law Review, the Michigan Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, and Constitutional Commentary, among other journals. In addition to the constitutional law curriculum, Bartrum teaches seminar courses in constitutional theory and law and religion. Before entering the law, he worked as a high school teacher and administrator, in which capacity he helped to found a successful charter school in northeast Washington, D.C.