Rodríguez ’00 to Give Surbeck Inaugural Lecture on November 13


Professor Cristina Rodríguez will deliver her inaugural lecture as the Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law on November 13, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. in Room 127. Her lecture will be titled “The President, Immigration Law, and the Politics of Constitutional Structure.”

The President’s power to shape immigration law has been on vivid display in recent years. This power has deep historical roots and is not simply a product of today’s polarized political climate. Primarily through the use of enforcement discretion, the Executive Branch has played a major role in deciding who may enter the United States and who may remain—in shaping the scope and nature of the polity. The bold and contentious immigration policies of the last two administrations provide an opportunity to rethink questions central to our legal order—what are the promises and perils of enforcement discretion, for what reasons and under what circumstances should executive power be constrained, and should our theories of the separation of powers be developed with a view to worst case scenarios or with faith in the persistence of the unwritten norms of modern governance?

Cristina Rodríguez joined Yale Law School in 2013 after serving for two years as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice. She was on the faculty at the NYU School of Law from 2004-2012 and has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia Law Schools. Her research interests include constitutional law and theory; immigration law and policy; administrative law and process; language rights and policy; and citizenship theory. In recent years, her work has focused on constitutional structures and institutional design, and she has a book forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2018 (with Adam Cox) on the history and scope of presidential power over immigration law. She has used immigration law and related areas as vehicles through which to explore how the allocation of power (through federalism and the separation of powers) shapes the management and resolution of legal and political conflict. Her work also has involved examination of the effects of immigration on society and culture, as well as the legal and political strategies societies adopt to absorb immigrant populations. She earned her B.A. and J.D. degrees from Yale and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, where she received a Master of Letters in Modern History. Following law school, Rodríguez clerked for Judge David S. Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Leighton Homer Surbeck Professorship was established by Margaret Surbeck in 2000 to honor the memory of her husband Homer Surbeck ’27, founding member of the law firm of Hughes, Hubbard & Reed, and to reflect Homer Surbeck's lifelong commitment to the highest ideals of the legal profession.