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Noah Feldman
Harvard Law Professor 
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Noah Feldman
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Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman is a highly respected public intellectual known for his ability to frame and explain complex legal issues as well as foreign policy, politics, and religion. Called “one of the stars of his generation” by Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, he writes a weekly column for Bloomberg News, specializing in real-time analysis of today’s big legal cases. Esquire named him one of the “75 most influential people of the 21st century.”

The Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Feldman teaches constitutional and international law and is a Senior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. He speaks four languages, including Arabic and Hebrew, and is an expert on Islamic philosophy and law, the separation of church and state, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

One of New York magazine’s three most influential contemporary idea-drivers, Feldman clerked for Supreme Court Justice David Souter and served as a senior constitutional adviser during the drafting of Iraq's constitution. He speaks widely on international affairs and what he calls "the intersection of ideas and real world power politics.”

According to Harvard Law’s William Rubenstein, “When Noah Feldman opens his mouth words flutter out like butterflies loosed from a net. The effect is luminous, but the substance concrete. Few people know as much about as many things, fewer still are able to articulate their knowledge with the style, insight, and passion that Noah – with little apparent effort – commands.”

Publishers Weekly called Feldman's Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Justices "a first-rate work of narrative history that succeeds in bringing the intellectual and political battles of the post-Roosevelt Court vividly to life." His 2013 book, Cool War: The Future of Global Competition, is a thought-provoking look at U.S.-China relations. His other books include Constitutional Law: Eighteenth Edition (co-authored with Kathleen Sullivan)The Fall and Rise of the Islamic StateDivided by God, and After Jihad.  

In October 2017, Random House will be releasing Feldman’s new book, The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President, a sweeping reexamination of the Founding Father who transformed the United States.

Feldman is the director of the Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law at Harvard Law. A graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, he earned a doctorate in Islamic thought from Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

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Videos
  • Aspen Ideas: The Three Lives of James Madison (2017)
  • Colbert Report: Feldman discusses "Cool War"
  • TED: Hamilton vs. Madison the Birth of American Partisanship (2017)
  • CNN: 'Scorpions' & the Supreme Court
  • Compassion in World Affairs: 2017 Festival of Faiths
  • Noah Feldman: Muslim and Western Views of Sharia (2012)
  • TEDx: Feldman on Revolution/Arab Spring (2012)
  • TED: Politics and Religion are Technologies
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Speaking Topics
The Founding Father Who Transformed America: James Madison - Genius, Partisan, President

James Madison’s legacy matters today more than ever. Over the course of his life, James Madison changed the United States three times: First, as founding genius he designed the Constitution, led the struggle for its adoption and ratification, then drafted the Bill of Rights.As an older, cannier politician he co-founded the original Republican party, setting the course of American political partisanship. Finally, having pioneered a foreign policy based on economic sanctions, he took the United States into a high-risk conflict, becoming the first wartime president and winning against the odds.  

In this speech, Noah Feldman brings to life the man whose creativity and tenacity gave us America’s distinctive form of government – and whose collaborations, struggles, and contradictions define the United States to this day. 

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SUPREME COURT 2017: WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW AND WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

Constitutional Law expert Professor Noah Feldman unpacks the marquee decisions of the day, from the Affordable Health Care Act to immigration. Feldman specializes in real-time analysis of the big Supreme Court cases for Bloomberg and The New York Times Magazine
 
What’s in store for 2017, and what does it mean for you? In this speech, Feldman explains the Supreme Court’s process from the inside out, introducing you to the personalities of the justices and the many angles of each issue. 

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WHY U.S. POLITICS ISN’T AS BAD AS WE THINK: HAMILTON VS. MADISON AND THE BIRTH OF PARTISANSHIP

Today, three things are commonly said about the political situation in the US: partisanship has never been so bad; it’s geographically distributed for the first time; and there’s nothing we can do about it. According to constitutional law scholar Noah Feldman, all three of these propositions are not true. In fact, geographically spaced partisanship runs deep in American history — and we have a powerful tool to manage it.

In this speech, Feldman recounts the feud between James Madison and Alexander Hamilton that gave birth to partisanship in America and how the constitution helped diffuse the intense divisions the feud created. “Partisanship is real, it’s profound, it’s extraordinarily powerful,” says Feldman, “but the design of the Constitution is greater than partisanship.” It worked for the founders and many subsequent generations, and it will work for us, too. Feldman encourages us to stand up for what we believe in, support the organizations we care about, speak out on issues that matter to us, and seek common ground.  

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THE FUTURE OF ISLAM: SECULARISM AND ISIS

The rise of ISIS and the success of secular democracy in Tunisia are bookends marking alternate futures for the Islamic world. Can Islamic government coexist with peace and democracy?

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ETHICS AND LEADERSHIP

Can ethics be taught or only demonstrated by example? This debate is as old as ethics itself, but it has an answer: leaders can promote ethics by sharing their decision process even as they take ethical action. This talk explores case studies of leadership ethics and power, from Aristotle to Abraham Lincoln to Indira Gandhi.

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America Through a Legal Lens: the Hard Questions of Politics, Race, and Civil Liberties
FOUNDING FRIENDS, FOUNDING ENEMIES: WHAT THE FOUNDING FATHERS CAN TEACH US

Our founding fathers began as close allies, with Washington and Jefferson, Hamilton and Madison all working together for a constitution that would avoid partisanship. Within a decade factions had formed. Jefferson and Madison pitted against Washington and Hamilton, and from their enmity came the first political parties. Noah Feldman asks how can we get anything done in a world of partisanship? He answers the question through the founding fathers’ struggles – and their willingness to adopt each others’ ideas even in the midst of battle.

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COOL WAR: China, The U.S., and the Future of Global Competition

We are entering a new historical era. The US and China are not only economically interdependent and intertwined, but also deeply in competition for geopolitical power. The combination is unprecedented and will impact business, war, and peace for at least the next half century. This talk charts a future that will affect everyone.

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THE GEOPOLITICS OF THE MIDDLE EAST: CHALLENGES, RISKS, AND PROSPECTS

The face of the Middle East has changed fundamentally with the collapse of Syria and the rise of ISIS. Meanwhile, Iran is on the brink of nuclear power. How will these new configurations affect the region, the world, and the future of energy? Are we in a 30-years war?

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NINE SCORPIONS IN A BOTTLE: THE SUPREME COURT'S COMPETITIVE NATURE

The greatest justices of the Supreme Court have not been the consensus builders but rather those who stuck to their principles – even when it meant conflict with each other. This talk tells the story of how the great justices’ mutual contempt spurred them to competitive greatness. It proposes that in some contexts, teamwork doesn’t produce the best results: competition does.

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ADDITIONAL TOPICS:

The Monotheistic Faiths: Who Says They Are The Same?      
Even though Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have common origins, these religions have fought some of the bloodiest wars of history against one another. Noah Feldman explores and compares the themes of each tradition: law for Judaism, love for Christianity, and justice for Islam. It offers possibilities for religious dialogue and warnings about its limits.
 
Divided By God? Religion And Government In America
Americans are among the most religious people on earth, and our politics are infused by religious values and language. Yet our country’s constitution separates church from state. This talk explores how successive generations of Americans have dealt with the deep question of how religion and politics should interact, offering practical solutions to the conflict between evangelicals and secularists.

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Books & Other Works
  • The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President
  • Cool War: The Future of Global Competition
  • Sullivan and Feldman's Constitutional Law, 18th Edition
  • Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices
  • The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State
  • Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem--and What We Should Do About It
  • After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy
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Testimonials
“Noah was wonderful and so very engaging. His knowledge of such a range of topics is astounding.”
Wilkes University
“Noah was terrific. Great content and a pleasure to spend some time with. In short, a great speaker and a great night.”
Salon Speakers
“The talk was amazing. He is one of the best speakers I have heard. He covered the topic intelligently, but it was still accessible for a general audience.”
Mount Allison University
“Thank you for your wonderful contribution to The Teach In. It's received rave reviews on campus. I loved it because it eminently serious interpretation made accessible to the general public.”
Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage
“As a constitutional-law scholar who is fluent in Arabic and specializes in issues of church and state, he could become the public intellectual of our time.”
Esquire
Newsfeed
Keywords
Arab Issues
Asia
China
Constitution
Death Penalty
Democracy
Ethics
Faith
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Freedom
Fundamentalism
Geopolitics
Globalization
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Immigration
International Relations
Iran
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Islam
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Political Analysis
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Religion
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TED
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