Visiting Professor of Law
Professor Eric Claeys is Professor of Law at the Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University. His scholarship focuses on justifications for property rights grounded in natural law and natural rights moralities.
In his earliest writings on property, Professor Claeys showed how principles of natural law justify and structure the police power and the power of eminent domain. Claeys used these insights to critique leading U.S. Supreme Court cases on regulatory takings and eminent domain. Two of thse works have been published in the Cornell Law Review and the Northwestern University Law Review, and one was cited by Justice Clarence Thomas in his dissenting opinion in the 2005 eminent domain decision Kelo v. City of New London.
In his most recent scholarship, Professor Claeys has explored how natural law- and rights-based moralities structure property rights in the private law. Most of his works apply natural law-based justifications in normative theory. In his most recent student-edited law review article, “Labor, Exclusion, and Flourishing in Property Law,” published in the North Carolina Law Review, Claeys offers Lockean labor theory as an alternative to progressive and economic justifications for property rights prominent in contemporary legal scholarship. In his most recent peer-reviewed article, “Intellectual Property and Practical Reason,” accepted for the journal Jurisprudence, Claeys shows how the natural law principles that justify intellectual property also limit it and reconcile it to the public domain, duration limits, and other property rights.
In some of his writings, Claeys studies property and other fields of private law using conceptual analysis. In one recent book chapter in Oxford University Press's collection on Philosophical Foundations of the Law of Torts, Claeys shows how the tort of trespass simultaneously accomplishes substantive goals associated with property law and corrective justice goals associated with torts.
Claeys also applies lessons from his normative and analytical scholarship to contemporary policy. Claeys currently serves as an adviser to the American Law Institute’s ongoing Restatement (Fourth) of the Law of Property. In recent work, he has shown how the natural law foundations of American property law facilitated the extraction and production of shale gas. He has also critiqued recent modifications, suggested by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2006 decision eBay v. MercExchange, to the standards for issuing injunctions in intellectual property infringement litigation.
Professor Claeys has also developed a fruitful relationship with Harvard law faculty over the years. Claeys writes regularly for the Harvard Law Review.
Professor Claeys graduated with a B.A. from Princeton University, and in spring 2017 he visited Princeton as a Fellow in its Politics Department’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He graduated with a J.D. from the University of Southern California Law School, where he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Southern California Law Review. After graduating law school, he clerked for the Hon. Melvin Brunetti, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the Hon. William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States. After clerking he practiced with Kirkland & Ellis’s Washington, D.C. office, and he then taught at the law schools of the University of Chicago and Saint Louis University. Claeys has been a member of George Mason University’s law faculty since 2007.