Welcome!

I’m glad you’re here. I wasn’t expecting to start a digital newsletter, but life has a funny way of presenting opportunities to connect with other people and make an impact. In professional life, as in personal life, man plans and God laughs. You can read about my journey to Substack in the first post of Shapiro’s Gavel.

Shapiro's Gavel is reader-supported. To get new posts, consider a free or paid subscription.

Who I Am

Professionally

I’m a senior fellow and director of constitutional studies at the Manhattan Institute. Before that, I was executive director and senior lecturer at the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, and before that a vice president of the Cato Institute, director of Cato’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies, and publisher of the Cato Supreme Court Review.

I’m the author of Supreme Disorder: Judicial Nominations and the Politics of America’s Highest Court (2020, updated paperback 2022), coauthor of Religious Liberties for Corporations? Hobby Lobby, the Affordable Care Act, and the Constitution (2014), and editor of 11 volumes of the Cato Supreme Court Review (2008-18). I’ve contributed to a variety of academic, popular, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Washington Post, L.A. TimesUSA TodayNational Review, and Newsweek. I also regularly provide commentary for various media outlets and once appeared on the Colbert Report.

I’ve testified many times before Congress and state legislatures and have filed more than 500 amicus curiae “friend of the court” briefs in the Supreme Court. I lecture regularly on behalf of the Federalist Society, am a member of the board of fellows of the Jewish Policy Center, was an inaugural Washington Fellow at the National Review Institute, and have been an adjunct law professor at the George Washington University and University of Mississippi. I’m also the chairman of the board of advisers of the Mississippi Justice Institute, a barrister in the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court, and a member of the Virginia Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Earlier in my career, I was a special assistant/​adviser to the Multi-​National Force in Iraq on rule-of-law issues and practiced at Patton Boggs and Cleary Gottlieb. Before entering private practice, I clerked for the incomparable Judge E. Grady Jolly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. I hold an AB from Princeton University, an MSc in international relations from the London School of Economics, and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School (where I became a Tony Patiño Fellow).

Personally

I was born in Moscow, USSR, in the late 1970s, making me a proud Gen Xer. I’ll always be grateful to my parents for getting me out of Russia so I wouldn’t have to grow up under communism or live under Putinism. We immigrated to Canada, settling in the small town of Lindsay, Ontario, before moving to Toronto when I started high school. I apparently liked immigrating so much that I did it again, coming to the United States for college and eventually getting my green card in 2009. On June 20, 2014, I realized a lifelong dream in becoming a U.S. citizen.

I’m proud to be an American. I care deeply about this country and believe it’s man’s last, best hope for freedom in this world. That means the rule of law, it means (classical) liberal values, and it means gratitude for the tremendous opportunities we enjoy here—and why so many people from all over the world still want to come and live the American dream. Like most immigrants, I do a job most native-born Americans won’t: defending the Constitution.

I now live with my wife and two (soon to be four!) kids in Falls Church, Virginia, where in 2021 I ran for school board.

What you can expect here

At Shapiro’s Gavel you’ll find everything from legal and constitutional analysis to thought pieces about the state of America. I commit to writing one op-ed-length piece weekly and plan to post more frequently, incorporating audio and video content as I get the hang of this amazing Substack platform. You’ll find stuff here you won’t find when I write for the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Newsweek, Washington Examiner, and other places. I’ll also be able also to give you my observations on things like travel and movies, and “deep cuts” into the Constitution and Supreme Court that might not otherwise make it into traditional media.

Why subscribe?

Subscribe to get full access to Shapiro’s Gavel. Never miss an update. Every new post goes directly to your inbox. You’ll also join a community of people who share your interests.

As a subscriber, you’ll get all my regular posts. These will be free forever. If you choose to become a paid subscriber ($5 per month or $50 per year), you’ll get (1) special posts and access to the full archive; (2) the opportunity to post comments; (3) occasional zooms or other interactive opportunities; and (4) my sincere gratitude.

There’s also a higher subscriber level for those who want to become a “founding member” ($250 annually). In addition to that lofty title and even more gratitude, you’ll receive a signed copy of my book, Supreme Disorder.

Join me on this journey. Let’s see where it goes.


People

Ilya Shapiro
Defender of the Constitution, free speech, and intellectual diversity. Author of Supreme Disorder. I tweet on law, liberty & the pursuit of happiness.