Ilya Somin

Ilya Somin

Professor of Law
George Mason University

Ilya Somin is a law professor at George Mason University and the author of Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter (Stanford University Press, 2nd ed. 2016). He previously analyzed the politics of Star Wars here, here and here.

He is also the author of 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 Journal, Stanford Law Review, Northwestern University Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Critical Review, and others. Somin has also published articles in a variety of popular press outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, the New York Times Room for Debate website, CNN, USA Today, Newark Star Ledger, Orlando Sentinel, South China Morning Post, Legal Times, National Law Journal and Reason. He has been quoted or interviewed by the New York Times, Washington PostWall Street Journal, Time, The Economist, the Christian Science Monitor, CBS, MSNBC, NPR, BBC, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Al Jazeera and the Voice of America, among other media. 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, affiliated with the Washington Post. From 2006 to 2013, he served as Co-Editor of the Supreme Court Economic Review, one of the country’s top-rated law and economics journals.

In 2008, Somin served as a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Hamburg, Germany, the University of Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Zhengzhou University in China. 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 B.A., Summa Cum Laude, at Amherst College, M.A. in Political Science from Harvard University, and J.D. from Yale Law School.

Blog Posts

The politics of “The Last Jedi”

One Resistance fighter says that the movement will win “not by fighting what we hate, but by saving what we love.” But what do they love?

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Breaking the wheel of Westeros: why heroes aren’t enough

As much as we love Daenerys and Jon, they and their real-world counterparts are unlikely to give us a better wheel on their own.

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The Constitutional Rights of Noncitizens

With a few exceptions noted above, none of the rights protected by the Constitution are limited to citizens. And none include a blanket exception for immigration cases.

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Obama’s cruel policy reversal on Cuban refugees

For some fifty years, the US has had a policy of welcoming refugees fleeing the brutal communist dictatorship in Cuba. In the 1990s, the policy was changed to “wetfoot, dryfoot,”under which…

Obama’s constitutional legacy

Obama deserves credit for helping to push the struggle for same-sex marriage to a successful conclusion, for appointing some highly capable judges (despite flaws in their judicial philosophy), and for causing the Supreme Court to establish some valuable precedents protecting federalism, property rights, and religious freedom (albeit, often unintentionally). On the other hand, we may well have occasion to rue his overly expansive approach to executive power, particularly when it comes to initiating wars without congressional authorization.

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Trump’s order on sanctuary cities is dangerous and unconstitutional

Trump’s executive order is exactly the kind of high-handed coercion of states that outraged conservatives under Obama.

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Rogue One and the Politics of Star Wars

As Tyler Cowen puts it, in many ways “this is the real Star Wars movie that many of you have been waiting for.”

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7 Fantasy/Science Fiction Epics That Can Inform You About the Real-World Political Scene

The politics of science fiction and fantasy series may seem like a frivolous topic at a time when we have so many serious real political problems. But it’s nonetheless worth…

Star Trek Is Far from Libertarian — Here’s Why

At least from a libertarian perspective, the otherwise appealing ideological vision of Star Trek is compromised by its commitment to socialism.

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I Can’t Breathe: How to Reduce Police Brutality

Should we have laws we aren’t willing to kill for? Following tragic deaths at the hands of police, like that of Eric Garner, many are outraged over racism and unaccountability in…