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Rob Natelson


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Robert G. “Rob” Natelson is widely acknowledged to be the country’s leading scholar on the Constitution's amendment procedure, and among the leaders on several other topics.

Robert G. “Rob” Natelson is widely acknowledged to be the country’s leading scholar on the Constitution's amendment procedure, and among the leaders on several other topics. He is  the author of The Original Constitution: What It Actually Said and Meant (Apis Books, 3d ed., 2014) and co-author of The Origins of the Necessary and Proper Clause (Cambridge University Press, 2010), a book based primarily on his groundbreaking research. He is also a senior fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Independence Institute and at the Montana Policy Institute. He was law professor for a quarter of a century, serving at three different universities. He is best known for his studies of the Constitution’s original understanding, and for bringing formerly neglected sources of evidence to the attention of constitutional scholars.

Natelson has been cited 17 times in U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 2013. Parts of Chief Justice Roberts’ 2012 opinion on the “Obamacare” health care law closely tracked his original research on the Necessary and Proper Clause. His academic publications are almost too numerous to list. In addition to his articles on the U.S. Constitution, he created the first online guide to “originalist” research (now partly duplicated here); created the database the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Montana Constitution; and in conjunction with his eldest daughter Rebecca, edited the first complete Internet versions of the Emperor Justinian's great Roman law collection (in Latin).

Prior to entering academia he practiced law in two states, ran his own businesses, and worked as a journalist and at other jobs. While serving as a professor he created and hosted Montana's first statewide commercial radio talk show.

Recent Articles and Publications

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March 5, 2018
By Rob Natelson
The hidden history of a great historic document.
February 7, 2018
By Rob Natelson
In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, decided in June 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Missouri state policy of restricting religious institutions from participating in grant programs.
November 29, 2017
By Rob Natelson
This month marks the 250th anniversary of John Dickinson’s Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania — the landmark series of newspaper op-eds that laid out the colonial case against taxation without representation.
October 31, 2017
By Rob Natelson
State lawmakers weighing whether to apply for a federal amendments convention are often asked, "How do you know an amendments convention is a convention of the states?"
October 25, 2017
By Rob Natelson
An environmental organization is asking a court to grant a river status as a "person" with the rights of personhood, thereby launching an attack on judicial fairness, the rule of law, and democracy.
July 18, 2017
By Rob Natelson
As the debt of the United States government continues to mount, efforts to add a balanced budget amendment (BBA) to the U.S. Constitution are gaining steam. But drafting such an amendment is not as easy as it sounds.
January 17, 2017
By Rob Natelson
Rob Natelson answers questions surrounding an Article V constitutional convention.
September 30, 2016
By Rob Natelson
Despite the obvious importance of the Constitution’s original understanding, legal writers attempting to find it often have reached conclusions based on astonishingly few sources.

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