Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor of Political Science, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame Law School, Indiana
George Herbert Walker Bush/Axel Springer Fellow - Class of Spring 2009
Donald Kommers published scores of major articles, including ten books, mainly in the areas of constitutional law and politics. Much of his work focused on the constitutional courts of several advanced democracies. He is the author of the widely acclaimed Constitutional Jurisprudence of the Federal Republic of Germany, the 3rd edition of which was published by the Duke University Press, and the coauthor of a major course book in American constitutional law, also in its 3rd edition. His book Germany’s Constitutional Odyssey was published in 2011.
As a professor emeritus he continued to teach advanced courses in American and comparative constitutional law as well as an undergraduate seminar on religion and politics. Kommers earned his BA in philosophy and English literature from the Catholic University of America and his advanced degrees (MA and PhD) in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also studied law. In 1998, he received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Germany’s Heidelberg University. Kommers was the fourth American to be so honored by Heidelberg’s law faculty since the end of the Second World War. He also received an honorary doctor of laws degree from St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisconsin where he delivered the commencement address to the class of 2007.
Kommers was a recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a resident scholar in Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court, an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow on the law faculty of Cologne University (Germany), a Max Planck Society Fellow in the Max Planck Institute of International and Comparative Public Law in Heidelberg, a Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Tokyo, and the winner of the Alexander von Humboldt Prize for senior US scholars, an award that allowed him to spend yet another year in Germany working on projects of his own choosing. His other honors include major grants and senior fellowships from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, American Philosophical Society, and German Marshall Fund of the United States. In 1991, he was co-winner of the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award for an article on privacy published in The World and I (September 1990). On November 8, 2010, in a ceremony at the German Consulate in Chicago, Kommers received, in the name of Germany’s Federal President, the Distinguished Service Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his three decades of scholarship on German life, law, and politics and for having “remarkably enriched both the American and German legal systems and building a bridge between our countries as few others have.”
Kommers was active in a number of professional organizations, including the American Political Science Association and the American Bar Association. He served as President of the National Conference Group on German Politics, as an advisor to President Carter’s Commission on the Holocaust, as editor of The Review of Politics, and as an editorial advisory board member of several professional journals, including the American Journal of Jurisprudence, American Journal of Comparative Law, and the International Journal of Comparative Constitutional Law.