Charles Reich

Does Our Contemporary Society Resemble the Dream of Constitutional Founders? Is it the Democracy They wanted?

Charles A. Reich (born May 20, 1928)


Is an American legal and social scholar as well as writer who was a Professor at Yale Law School when he wrote the 1970 paean to the 1960s counterculture and youth movement, The Greening of America. Excerpts of the book first appeared in The New Yorker,[1] and its seismic reception there[2] helped the book to leading The New York Times Best Seller list.


Reich was born in New York City. He attended City and Country School and Lincoln School in the city prior to undergraduate studies at Oberlin College. As a law student, he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal for 1951–1952[4] and he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black during the 1953-1954 term. Prior to his academic career he worked for six years as a lawyer at the leading firms Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York and Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C..

Reich was a professor at Yale Law School from 1960-1974. Both Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton were students of Professor Reich when he was writing The Greening of America and he is mentioned in their biographies. Reich left Yale in 1974 to move to San Francisco, although he continued as a visiting professor from 1974-1976. He returned to teach at Yale from 1991–1994 and in February 2011. The Yale Law School Association selected Reich for its Award of Merit in 2008.

Reich is gay, and came to terms with this in San Francisco during the 1970s era of rapidly advancing gay rights and liberation. He eventually became actively out during this early period of the modern LGBT rights movement and in his autobiography he details his activism and the process of coming to terms with his then long-repressed homosexuality. Decades later Reich was less active in LGBT affairs and explicitly stated that his need to live alone "trumped" sexual orientation as meaningful in his life.


Reich has written numerous articles. The following is a selection:

  • 1962: "Bureaucracy and the forests: An occasional paper on the role of the political process in the free society" (Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions)
  • 1964: "The New Property" (Yale Law Journal)
  • 1965: "Individual Rights and Social Welfare: The Emerging Legal Issues" (Yale Law Journal)
  • 1966: "Police Questioning of Law Abiding Citizens" (Yale Law Journal)
  • 1987: "The Liberals' Mistake" (adapted from Regents' Lecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara [1])
  • 1990: "Symposium: The Legacy of Goldberg v. Kelly: A Twenty Year Perspective: Beyond the New Property: An Ecological View of Due Process" (Brooklyn Law Review)


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