Associate Professor of Law
Legal Research Center
Erin Ryan teaches environmental and natural resources law, property and land use, water law, negotiation, and federalism. She has presented at academic and administrative venues in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, the U.S.D.A. Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets, and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. She has advised National Sea Grant multilevel governance studies involving Chesapeake Bay and consulted with multiple institutions on developing sustainability programs. She has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the London Financial Times, the PBS Newshour and Christian Science Monitor’s “Patchwork Nation” project, and on National Public Radio. She is the author of many scholarly works, including Federalism and the Tug of War Within (Oxford, 2012).
Professor Ryan is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review and a Hewlett Fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Research Project. She clerked for Chief Judge James R. Browning of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit before practicing environmental, land use, and local government law in San Francisco. She began her academic career at the College of William & Mary in 2004, and she joined the faculty at the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in 2011. Ryan spent 2011-12 as a Fulbright Scholar in China, during which she taught American law, studied Chinese governance, and lectured throughout Asia.
Prior to law school, she served as a U.S. Forest Service ranger on the Mono Lake District of the Inyo National Forest, east of Yosemite National Park. She graduated from Harvard College with a degree in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and received a Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University.
Specialty Areas & Course Descriptions
- Natural Resources law
- Environmental Law
- Land Use
- Water Law and Policy
- B.A. 1991 Harvard-Radcliffe College, cum laude
- M.A. 1994 Wesleyan University
- J.D. 2001 Harvard Law School, cum laude
- FEDERALISM AND THE TUG OF WAR WITHIN, Oxford University Press, 2012 (proposing a theory of federalism that balances tension among federalism’s underlying principles and the roles of the three branches in implementing it). http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Law/ConstitutionalLaw/?view=usa&ci=9780199737987; Oxford Online: http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199737987.001.0001/acprof-9780199737987.
Law Review Articles, Essays, and Book Chapters
- Breathing Air with Heft: Environmental Regulation and Public Health in Urban China , forthcoming, 2013 (article describing environmental challenges in China and illuminating some of the cultural gaps that American and Chinese partners will inevitably encounter as we work together to solve global environmental challenges).
- The Elaborate Paper Tiger: Environmental Enforcement and the Rule of Law in China, 24 DUKE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND POLICY FORUM 184 (2014) (article reviewing how enforcement hurdles have undermined the success of Chinese environmental law and proposing a modest but politically feasible reform measure).
- The Spending Power and Environmental Law After Sebelius ,85 COLORADO L. REV. 1003 (2014) (article analyzing the Supreme Court’s new spending power doctrine and its impact on spending power-based programs of cooperative federalism in environmental law, with special attention to highway fund penalties associated with the Clean Air Act).
- When Socrates Meets Confucius: Teaching Creative and Critical Thinking Across Cultures Through Multilevel Socratic Method , 92 Nebraska L. Rev. 289 (2013) (case study about adapting the Socratic Method to teach critical thinking skills underemphasized in China and group competency skills underemphasized in the U.S.).
- Environmental Law After Sebelius: Will the Court’s New Spending Power Limits Affect Environmental State-Federal Partnerships ? , American Constitution Society (October 1, 2013) (issue brief analyzing how the new spending power doctrine in the Supreme Court’s 2012 health reform decision, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, will impact state-federal environmental partnerships).
- “ Negotiating Federalism Past the Zero-Sum Game, ” 38 Administrative and Regulatory Law News 4, Fall 2012, (invited essay reviewing how state-federal bargaining will be impacted by the Supreme Court’s spending power analysis in its 2012 Affordable Care Act decision) (also reprinting Spending Power Bargaining After Sebelius).
- The Once and Future Challenges of American Federalism , in Alberto López Basaguren and Leire Escajedo San-Epifanio, eds., THE WAYS OF FEDERALISM IN WESTERN COUNTRIES AND THE HORIZONS OF TERRITORIAL AUTONOMY IN SPAIN, Vol. 1 (Springer, 2013) (book chapter analyzing current federalism controversies in the United States through the FEDERALISM AND THE TUG OF WAR WITHIN framework of analysis).
- In Tribute to Judge James R. Browning: The Center of His Circle , 73 Montana l. rev. 14 (2012) (invited short piece honoring the legacy of Judge Browning, Chief Judge Emeritus of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit).
- Negotiating Federalism , 52 B.C.L. REV. 1 (2011) (article exploring the role of state-federal bargaining in allocating authority, shepherding collaboration, and interpreting federalism in contexts of jurisdictional overlap). Cited by Professor Lawrence Solum on the Legal Theory Blog on April 7, 2010.
- Intergovernmental Bargaining and Climate Federalism , United Nations Institute for Training and Research research paper, September, 2010 (web-published essay applying the negotiated federalism model in the specific context of multilevel climate governance), extrapolated from Negotiating Federalism.
- Federalism at the Cathedral: Property Rights, Liability Rules, and Inalienability Rules in Tenth Amendment Infrastructure , 81 COLORADO L. REV. 1 (2010) (article critiquing the theoretical basis for, and practical implications of, the Court’s creation in New York v. United States of an inalienability rule for Tenth Amendment entitlements). Cited in PERCIVAL, ET. AL., ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION: LAW, SCIENCE, AND POLICY (Aspen, 6th ed., 2009). Also cited by Professor Benjamin Barros on the Property Prof Blog on March 4, 2009.
- How the New Federalism Failed Katrina Victims , in Robin Malloy & John Lovett, eds., LAW AND RECOVERY FROM DISASTER: HURRICANE KATRINA (Ashgate Press, 2009) (book chapter addressing the relationship between federalism and the Katrina aftermath), drawn from Federalism and the Tug of War Within, 66 Md. L. Rev. 503 (2007). Cited on the Legal Theory Blog (7/12/10), Law Matters Blog (7/12/10), and Poverty Law Blog (7/23/10).
- Reporting on Palin: Negotiations in Political Theater , HARVARD NEGOTIATION LAW REVIEW ONLINE, October 2, 2008 (essay using negotiation theory as a lens for analyzing a campaign’s efforts to manipulate its media coverage).
- Federalism and the Tug of War Within: Seeking Checks and Balance in the Interjurisdictional Gray Area , 66 Maryland L. Rev. 503 (2007) (article exploring how tension between underlying federalism principles shaped the progression of federalism theory over the 20th century, culminating in the New Federalism’s difficulty accounting for interjurisdictional problems). Excerpted in STONE, SEIDMANN, SUNSTEIN, TUSHNET, & KARLAN, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (Aspen, 6th ed., 2009) and FARBER, CHEN, & VERCHICK, DISASTER LAW AND POLICY (Aspen, 2010). Cited in the 2010 HARVARD LAW REVIEW “Foreword,” Heather Gerken, Federalism All the Way Down, 124 HARV. L. REV. 4, 20-21, nn. 50 & 58 (as scholarship developing the kinds of “new conceptual tools” needed in the federalism discourse).
- Palazzolo, The Public Trust, and the Property Owner’s Reasonable Expectations: Takings and the South Carolina Marsh Bridge Debate , 15 S.E. ENVTL. L. J. 121 (2006) (invited symposium article reviewing the implications of the Palazzolo v. Rhode Island aftermath for takings claims relating to public trust tidelands and wetlands). Republished as a chapter in PROPERTY: A LEGAL PARADIGM (Amicus Books, 2009) and ENVIRONMENT AND THE PUBLIC TRUST DOCTRINE (Amicus Books, forthcoming, 2010).
- New Orleans, The Chesapeake, and the Future of Environmental Assessment: Overcoming the Natural Resources Law of Unintended Consequences , 40 U. RICH. L. REV. 981 (2006) (invited lead article in symposium; tracing flood control and wetlands protection policies that led to New Orleans’ post-Katrina flooding and Chesapeake Bay wetlands loss, and proposing a network-based model of assessment to help forestall future unintended consequences). Selected as one of the 20 best environmental law articles of 2006 by LAND USE & ENVIRONMENTAL LAW REVIEW faculty panel.
- Building the Emotionally Learned Negotiator , 22 NEGOTIATION J. 209 (2006) (invited essay reviewing three recent books on emotion in negotiation, situating each work within a proposed theory of practice for learned negotiators). Quoted on second edition jacket of FISHER & SHAPIRO, BEYOND REASON (Viking, 2005).
- The Discourse Beneath: Emotional Epistemology in Legal Deliberation and Negotiation , 10 HARV. NEGOT. L. REV. 231 (2005) (article exploring how the cognitive processing of emotionally resonant data facilitates inductive reasoning and how the subterranean exchange of emotional information between participants facilitates negotiation). Excerpted in BROOKS & MADDEN, RELATIONSHIP-CENTERED LAWYERING: SOCIAL SCIENCE THEORY FOR TRANSFORMING LEGAL PRACTICE (Carolina Academic Press, 2009).
- Zoning, Taking, & Dealing: The Problems and Promise of Bargaining in Land Use Planning , 7 HARV. NEGOT. L. REV. 337 (2002) (article analyzing the theoretical disconnect between the Supreme Court’s anti-bargaining takings jurisprudence and optimal practice of land use law). Republished in LAND USE AND PLANNING HANDBOOK (West Publishing, 2003 ed.).
- Public Trust & Distrust: Theoretical Implications of the Public Trust Doctrine for Natural Resources Management , 31 ENVTL. L. 477 (2001) (essay contrasting the public trust with other theoretical frameworks for natural resource management and environmental protection). Included in Federalist Society CLE materials, July, 2005.
- ADR, the Judiciary, & Justice: Coming to Terms with the Alternatives , 113 HARV. L. REV. 1851 (2000) (note reviewing developments in alternative dispute resolution and related due process issues).
“The Paper Tiger Gets Teeth: Developments in Chinese Environmental Law,” Law.com Network, April 28, 2014; The Huffington Post, April 30, 2014 (essay discussing groundbreaking amendments to the Chinese Environmental Protection Law, and its relationship to the development of rule-of-law ideals in China). Available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erin-ryan/chinese-environmental-law_b_5234210.html.
“The Great American Gun Violence Lottery,” American Constitution Society Blog, Dec. 17, 2013; The Huffington Post, Dec. 20, 2013 (essay comparing the experience of gun violence in America to the dystopian game of chance in Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and urging an available, common-sense middle ground on gun policy). Available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erin-ryan/the-great-american-gun-vi_b_4482059.html.
- “Why Equal Protection Trumps Federalism in the Same-Sex Marriage Cases,” The Huffington Post, April 17, 2013 (op-ed drawn from the original ACS/Oregonian essay below). Available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erin-ryan/gay-marriage-states-rights_b_3100985.html.
- “Why Equal Protection Trumps Federalism in the Same-Sex Marriage Cases: A Federalism Scholar’s Take on Why Federalism Isn’t the Issue,” American Constitution Society Blog, March 29, 2013; The Oregonian, April 8, 2013 (essay showing why the equal protection should issues trump by reference not only to federal civil rights supremacy but to the underlying rights-protective function of structural federalism). Available at http://www.acslaw.org/acsblog/why-equal-protection-trumps-federalism-in-the-same-sex-marriage-cases; http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/04/why_equal_protection_trumps_fe.html.
- “Spending Power Bargaining After Sebelius,” OUP Blog, July 3, 2012 (essay commenting on the spending power implications of Chief Justice Robert’s opinion in the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision). Available at http://blog.oup.com/2012/07/spending-power-bargaining-after-obamacare/. (Versions of the same essay were published on the AMERICAN CONSTITUTION SOCIETY BLOG and the ENVIRONMENTAL LAW PROFS BLOG later that month.)
- “Obamacare and Federal Authority,” THE OREGONIAN, June 27, 2012, at B-6 (op-ed discussing the core federalism issues in the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care controversies). Linked to online guest column, “Obamacare, Federalism, in Supreme Court Tug of War,” republishing original RegBlog essay at http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2012/06/obamacare_federalism_in_a_supr.html.
- “Health Care Reform and Federalism’s Tug of War Within,” REGBLOG, AMERICAN CONSTITUTION SOCIETY BLOG, June 21, 2012 (essay explaining the battle over the Affordable Care Act in terms of the classic American federalism debates, and proposing a better way of analyzing this and all federalism issues). Available at http://www.law.upenn.edu/blogs/regblog/2012/06/21-ryan-federalism.html. (Republished on OXFORD BLOG, June 28.)
- “Environmental Experiences in China,” Nine-part series on the Environmental Law Profs Blog, 2012 (reporting on the challenges of Chinese environmental regulation from a first-person, public health perspective). Available at http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/environmental_law/2013/04/china-environmental-experiences-table-of-contents.html.
- “Do One Thing for Sustainability,” HAMPTON ROADS SMART REGION BLOG, March 19, 2010 (guest blog explaining the William & Mary “Do One Thing for Sustainability (‘DOT’) Initiative). Available at http://smartregion.org/2010/03/do-one-thing-for-sustainability/.
- “Beyond I-Got-Mine-Jack Health Care,” versions published in the VIRGINIAN-PILOT (VA), September 21, 2009 at 9; the STAR LEDGER (NJ), September 22, 2009 at 13, and as a guest blog on the American Constitution Society at William & Mary School of Law, September 23, 2009 (op-ed urging those who warn that health care reform will lead to rationing not to forsake the victims of the rationing we already have). Available at http://acs.blogs.wm.edu/2009/09/29/i-got-mine-jack-health-care/.
- “Breaking Ground on the New Green Deal,” AMERICAN CONSTITUTION SOCIETY AT WILLIAM & MARY SCHOOL OF LAW, Guest Blog, February 14, 2009 (op-ed urging reluctant members of Congress to act on stimulus proposals to invest in a renewable energy economy). Available athttp://acs.blogs.wm.edu/2009/02/14/breaking-ground-on-the-new-green-deal/. Republished October 1, 2009, by the Hampton Roads Partnership Blog.
- “A Swing State Voter’s Epiphany,” CHICAGO TRIBUNE, November 6, 2008, at C-43 (op-ed forecasting redemption for the fractured American electorate based on deep election-day kindnesses in politically divided southeastern Virginia). Republished November 7, 2008, by the Hampton Roads Partnership Blog at:http://smartregion.org/2008/11/the-american-way-a-swing-state-epiphany/.
- “Protecting Even ‘Incendiary’ Speech from Censorship,” CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, March 18, 2005 (letter to the editor arguing that “the answer to disquieting speech is more speech” in response to controversy over Professor Ward Churchill’s post-9/11 remarks). Available athttp://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i28/28b01701.htm.
- “New Housing Laws Favor Developers,” WESTERN CITY, Vol. LXXXIX, No. 3 (March 2003), at 14 (article critiquing incentives for localities by new limits on judicial discretion in applying land use fee-shifting statutes). Quoted at length in the California State Senate’s June 23, 2003 Bill Analysis for proposed SB 619, a bill seeking substantial reform of the state’s affordable housing laws to expedite the development of affordable housing in California. (Bill Analysis available at ftp://leginfo.public.ca.gov/pub/03-04/bill/sen/sb_0601-0650/sb_619_cfa_20030630_121633_asm_comm.html.)
- Commentary: Vedanta Society of Southern Cal. v. California Quartet (limiting “private attorney general” fee-shifting under California Environmental Quality Act), 2003 CAL. ENVTL. L. REPORTER 16 (Jan. 2003).
- Commentary: Environmental Defense Center v. EPA (affirming in part and remanding in part EPA’s Clean Water Act stormwater regulations), 2003 CAL. ENVTL. L. REPORTER 122 (March 2003).
- “The Once and Future Farm: Keeping Farms in Vermont,” CONSERVATION MATTERS, Vol. VI, No. 3 (Fall 1999), at 32 (article contrasting environmentally unsound “factory” farming practices with stewardship approach of small farms, and proposing an economically sustainable intergenerational transfer program to forestall further decline).
- The Worcester Report, The Better Homes Foundation, 1992 (monograph analyzing MA housing crisis).