William E. Forbath

William E. Forbath

  • Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair in Law
  • Professor

Faculty Profile: William E. Forbath

Main Profile Content


Willy Forbath holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair and is Associate Dean of Research at UT Austin School of Law; he is also a Professor of History at UT. He is the author of Law and the Shaping of the American Labor Movement, the forthcoming The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution: Reconstructing the Economic Foundations of American Democracy (February, 2022)(with Joseph Fishkin), and dozens of articles, book chapters, and essays on legal and constitutional history and theory and comparative constitutional law. He is completing a history of Jews, law and identity politics in the twentieth century and starting a history of socialist lawyering and legal imagination.  He occasionally writes on legal and constitutional issues for the New York Times, the Nation and other outlets, and is on the boards of several Texas organizations devoted to social movements and advocacy for affordable housing and workers’ rights. In addition to UT Austin, he has taught at UCLA, Sciences Po, Tel Aviv, Columbia, and Harvard.     

Most Recent Media

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Professional Activities


April 1, 2019

Paper Presentation

“The Jewish Constitutional Moment,” Princeton University, Public Seminar, Program in Law & Public Affairs, Princeton, N.J.

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May 19-21, 2017

Workshop Leader

Principal Director & Convener - Open Society Foundation Project on Expanding the Scope for Social and Economic Rights Litigation in Ghana and South Africa: “Toward a New Constitutional Political Economy – Transition and Transformation,” Cape Town, South Africa, May 19-21, 2017

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March 5, 2017


“The Jewish Constitutional Moment,” Conference on "Jewish Law in the Modern State," Yale Law School, New Haven, CT, March 5, 2017

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February 10, 2017


“Law, Lawyering and the Labor Movement: Past, Present, Future,” Conference on “Lawyers and Social Movements,” UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, February 10, 2017 

January 10-14, 2017

Conference Leader

Principal Director & Convener - Open Society Foundation Project on Expanding the Scope for Social and Economic Rights Litigation in Ghana and South Africa: “Equitable, Democratic and Sustainable Pathways of Oil Governance and Economic Development?” Accra, Ghana, January 10-14, 2017

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December 16, 2016

Featured Speaker

Featured speaker: The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy Presents: Is America Becoming a Plutocracy?  Press Conference Call/American Constitution Society, December 16, 2016


September 22, 2016


"The Jewish Constitutional Moment: Diaspora and Group Rights in the Making of American Jewishness and Modern Liberalism," Gabry Memorial Lecture, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, September 22, 2016

July 28, 2016


“The Constitutional History of the Democratic Party,” podcast for National Constitution Center (with Jeff Rosen, Sean Wilentz) http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2016/07/podcast-a-constitutional-history-of-the-democratic-party/

April 19, 2016


“The Future of Economic and Social Rights,” Lecture at Boston College Law School, Chestnut Hill, MA, April 19, 2016

March 25, 2016

Featured Speaker

Fishkin & Forbath, The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution in draft - centerpiece of conference on “Constitution and Economic Inequality” at The Center for Constitutional Governance 2016 Annual Conference, Columbia Law School, New York, NY, March 25, 2016

January 28-30, 2016

Core Speaker and Text

Texas Law Review Symposium on "The Constitution and Economic Inequality” – core text Fishkin & Forbath, The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution in draft, with commentaries by Jack Balkin, Jeremy Kessler, Cynthia Estlund, Frank Michelman, Jed Purdy, & Reva Siegel, Austin, TX, January 28–30, 2016


March 30, 2015

Paper Presentation

“Wealth, Commonwealth and the Constitution of Opportunity: A Story of Two Traditions,” Harvard University Workshop on the History of Capitalism, Cambridge, MA, March 30, 2015 (with Joseph Fishkin)

March 18-19, 2015


“The Jewish Constitutional Moment in the Early Twentieth Century,” Lecture at Conference on “Jewish Rights, Minority Rights, Human Rights?” Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel, March 18-19, 2015


May 18-19, 2014

Seminar Leader

“Constitution, Courts, and the South African National Political Economy,” (with Dennis Davis) at “Heterodox Innovations in Development Economics and Social and Economic Rights,” sponsored by the Radcliffe Institute and the Ecole du Droit, SciencesPo, Paris, France, May 18-19, 2014