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Professor Chris Bryant’s Sabbatical Brought Opportunity for In-depth Research, Writing and Professional Development


Do you recall that famous elementary school question, “What did you do last summer”? For law school professors, however, the question becomes “What did you do on sabbatical?” For Professor Christopher Bryant sabbatical brought an opportunity for research, reflection, analysis, and significant writing.

The popular professor applied for a year-long sabbatical for the 2010-11 school year, aspiring primarily to co-author a textbook. While, his application was accepted, his co-author asked to defer the project. Nevertheless, Professor Bryant – who is currently teaching Constitutional Law I and Conflicts of Law – was encouraged by Dean Lou Bilionis to use the sabbatical and pursue other scholarly opportunities. “A sabbatical presents an enormously valuable opportunity for concentrated research and writing and is indispensable to the continuing development of faculty as scholars,” Bryant said.

Although Bryant was not in the classroom last year, he spent much of his time working at the College of Law in his fourth-floor office during his sabbatical. Ultimately, he produced four articles and essays – all of which have already been accepted for publication by various law reviews.

In September 2010, Bryant’s “What McDonald Means for Unremunerated Rights,” was accepted by the Georgia Law Review. The essay, which reviewed the 2010 Supreme Court case McDonald v. City of Chicago, ran in Georgia’s Summer 2011 issue.  This past spring, the BYU Law Review and the University of Richmond Law Review also accepted Bryant’s articles for publication – “Foreign Law as Legislative Fact in Constitutional Cases” and “Constitutional Forbearance,” respectively.  Additionally, Bryant’s essay on the Supreme Court’s 1927 decision in Nigro v. United States will be included in the Nevada Law Journal’s forthcoming symposium issue devoted to identifying “The Worst Supreme Court Decision, Ever.”

While he will continue to pursue other scholarship and still plans to work on the aforementioned textbook, the Constitutional Law scholar is happy to be teaching again this school year.

“I love teaching. I find it very rewarding and I am very glad to be back in the classroom,” he said. “It has helped tremendously that I was able to have a break from it in that I feel very refreshed; I have a renewed excitement and energy and willingness to experiment and desire to try different teaching methods and different tools in the classroom.”

Professor Bryant added that stepping away from teaching for a year gave him “a perspective (he) otherwise would not have enjoyed. I think it’s likely over the long-term, it will make me a better teacher,” he continued. “I certainly hope so.”

In addition to teaching, Bryant has also been working on a legislative fact project, which he recently expanded to cover research into the practices of foreign constitutional courts. And on October 5, jumping right into the college’s extracurricular activities, he participated in one of the Federalist Society’s semester debates:  “A Debate on Judicial Engagement” with Clark Neily, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice.

By Jordan Cohen, ’13