Robert Delahunty

Professor and Laurence & Jean LeJeune Distinguished Chair

(651) 962-4997
(800) 328-6819, Ext. 2-4997

1000 LaSalle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Office Location: MSL 427

J.D., Harvard Law School

B.Phil., Oxford University

B.A., Columbia University

B.A., M.A. Oxford University

Robert Delahunty grew up in New York City. He was educated by the Jesuit order at Regis High School in Manhattan and graduated summa cum laude from Columbia University in 1968. He was awarded a Kellett Fellowship to study at Oxford University, from which he obtained a B.A. with First Class honors in Classics in 1970 and a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1972. He then studied or taught philosophy in England, Scotland, and Canada until 1980, holding research and teaching positions at Oriel College, Oxford University, and a tenured teaching position at the University of Durham in the north of England. During that time he wrote his book Spinoza, which was published in 1985.

Delahunty returned to the United States in 1980 to study law at Harvard Law School, from which he graduated cum laude in 1983. He began legal practice at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York City, where he was an Associate in the Litigating Section from 1983 to 1986, working primarily on a major probate proceeding. He joined the Appellate Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in 1986, and began working for the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department in 1989. He was Special Assistant to the Solicitor of Labor in 1991/1992, a Visiting Associate Professor of Law at the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America in 1999/2000, and Deputy General Counsel at the White House Office of Homeland Security in 2002/2003.

He spent most of his legal career before joining the UST faculty, however, at the Office of Legal Counsel, where he was made Special Counsel and a member of the Senior Executive Service in 1992. His work and writing at the Office of Legal Counsel focused on the constitutional law of foreign relations, Presidential war powers, public international law, treaties, and immigration law. His usual clients included the Office of the Counsel to the President, the Office of the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council, the Office of Management & Budget, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Office of the Legal Adviser to the State Department. He was selected, on Attorney General Janet Reno’s nomination, as an Atlantic Fellow in 1995/1996, enabling him to study and write on British and European asylum law at the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University.

Courses Taught

Number Title Credits
605 Constitutional Law 4
836 Int'l Human Rights Law 2
837 International Law 3
876 Conflict of Laws 3
950 Supervised Resrch & Writing .5

Areas of Academic Expertise:

Constitutional Law of Foreign Relations
Presidential War Powers
Public International Law
Immigration Law 

From the article "Grand Ideas: Faculty members describe the best ideas from their scholarship" St. Thomas Lawyer Magazine Fall 2011

Much of my scholarship has been concerned with considering alternatives to the United Nations Charter as the primary legal basis for world order. On the critical side, I have argued that the
charter suffers from irremediable flaws with respect to its provisions regulating the use of force. On the positive side, I have explored two such possibilities: a) a return to the unregulated, but
generally peaceful, world order of the period from 1815 to 1914, in which a concert of Great Powers informally maintained the peace and b) a policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional democracy, based on the “democratic peace” theory.

Upcoming: I’m writing an extensive, detailed work on the international law regulating the conduct of hostilities.

Contributions and mentions in the media


Robert J. Delahunty & John C. Yoo, International Human Rights Law and the War on Terrorin Handbook of Human Rights (Thomas Cushman, ed., 2011).


"Does Animal Welfare Trump Religious Liberty? The Danish Ban on Kosher and Halal Butchering"

Delahunty, Robert J., Does Animal Welfare Trump Religious Liberty? The Danish Ban on Kosher and Halal Butchering (May 1, 2014). U of St. Thomas (Minnesota) Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-19.

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Robert J. Delahunty & Christopher J. Motz, Killing Al-Awlaki: The Domestic Legal Issues, Idaho J.L. & Pub. Pol'y (Forthcoming 2012).

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Robert J. Delahunty, Terrorism and Trade: A Reply to Professor Bhala, U. St. Thomas L.J. (forthcoming 2012).

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Robert J. Delahunty & John C. Yoo, From Just War to False Peace, Chi. J. Int’l L. (forthcoming 2012).

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Robert J. Delahunty, Nationalism, Statism and Cosmopolitanism, Nw. Interdisc. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2012).

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Robert J. Delahunty, Of Charters and Compacts: Comments on Fallone, 1 Wake Forest L. Rev. Online 104 (2011).

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Robert J. Delahunty, War Powers Irresolution: The Obama Administration and the Libyan Intervention, 12 Engage 122 (2011).

Robert J. Delahunty, Obama’s War Law, 11 Engage 80 (2010).

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Robert J. Delahunty, Originalism and Legitimacy: A Reply to Professor Powell, 7 U. St. Thomas L.J.  281 (2010).

Robert J. Delahunty & John Yoo, What Is the Role of International Human Rights Law in the War on Terror?, 59 DePaul L. Rev. 803 (2010).

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Robert J. Delahunty & John C. Yoo, Kant, Habermas and Democratic Peace, 10 Chi. J. Int’l L. 437 (2010).

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Robert J. Delahunty & John C. Yoo, The "Bush Doctrine": Can Preventive War Be Justified?, 32 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 843 (2009).

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Robert J. Delahunty & John C. Yoo, Great Power Security, 10 Chi. J. Int’l. L. 35 (2009).

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Robert J. Delahunty & Antonio F. Perez, The Kosovo Crisis: A Dostoievskian Dialogue on International Law, Statecraft, and Soulcraft, 42 Vand. J. Transnat’l L. 15 (2009).

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Robert J. Delahunty, Herbert Butterfield, Christianity, and International Law86 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev.  615 (2009).

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Robert J. Delahunty, The Fourth Amendment Goes to War, 10 Engage 69 (2009).

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Robert J. Delahunty, Changing Hearts, Changing Minds: A New Evangelical Politics?, 47 J. Cath. Legal Stud.  271 (2008).

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Robert J. Delahunty, "Constitutional Justice" or "Constitutional Peace"? The Supreme Court and Affirmative Action, 65 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 11 (2008).

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Robert J. Delahunty & John C. Yoo, Peace Through Law? The Failure of a Noble Experiment, 106 Mich. L. Rev. 923 (2008).

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Robert J. Delahunty, Latin America: Economic Development and Social Justice, 5 U. St. Thomas L.J.  617 (2008).

Robert J. Delahunty & John C. Yoo, Making War93 Cornell L. Rev. 123 (2007).

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Robert J. Delahunty, Paper Charter: Self-Defense and the Failure of the United Nations Collective Security System, 56 Cath. U. L. Rev.  871 (2007).

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Robert J. Delahunty, “Varied Carols”: Legislative Prayer in a Pluralist Polity, 40 Creighton L. Rev. 517 (2007).

Robert J. Delahunty, Federalism and Polarization, 1 U. St. Thomas J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 63 (2007).

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Robert J. Delahunty, Is the Geneva POW Convention ‘Quaint’?, 33 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 1635 (2007).

Robert J. Delahunty & John C. Yoo, Lines in the Sand, 87 Nat'l Int . 28 (2007).

Robert J. Delahunty & John C. Yoo, Executive Power v. International Law, 30 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 73 (2006).

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Robert J. Delahunty, The Battle of Mars and Venus: Why Do American and European Attitudes Toward International Law Differ?, 4 Loy. U. Chi. Int’l L. Rev. 11 (2006).

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Robert J. Delahunty, Presidential Power and International Law in a Time of Terror, 4 Regent J. Int’l L. 175 (2006).

Robert J.  Delahunty & John Yoo, Statehood and the Third Geneva Convention, 46 Va. J. Int’l L. 131 (2005).

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Robert J. Delahunty, & John Yoo, Against Foreign Law, 29 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 291 (2005).

Robert J. Delahunty & Antonio F. Perez, Moral Communities or a Market State: The Supreme Court’s Vision of the Police Power in the Age of Globalization, 42 Hous. L. Rev. 637 (2005).

Robert J. Delahunty, The Cinc Authority and the Laws of War, 99 Am. Soc’y Int’l L. Proc. 190 (2005).

Robert J. Delahunty, Structuralism and the War Powers: The Army, Navy, and Militia Clauses, 19 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 1021 (2003).

Robert J. Delahunty, & John Yoo, The President’s Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorist Organizations and the Nations that Harbor or Support Them, 25 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 487 (2002).

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Robert J. Delahunty, Federalism Beyond the Waters Edge: State Procurement Sanctions and Foreign Affairs, 37 Stan. J. Int’l L. 1 (2001).

Robert J. Delahunty, Separating Power: Essays on the Founding Period, 15 Const. Comment. 209 (1998).

Short Pieces

Robert J. Delahunty, The Two Faces of the United Nations, 3 St. Thomas Law. 21 (2010).

Book Reviews

Robert J. Delahunty & John C. Yoo, Thinking About Presidents, 90 Cornell L. Rev. 1153 (2005) (reviewing James Taranto & Leonard Leo, eds., Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House (2004)).

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Robert J. Delahunty, From Ancient Liberty to the Welfare State, 1994 Pub. Int. L. Rev.181 (1994) (reviewing Cass R. Sunstein, The Partial Constitution (1993)).