Prof. Patrick McKinley Brennan

John F. Scarpa Chair in Catholic Legal Studies, Villanova University School of Law

Patrick McKinley Brennan joined the Villanova faculty in 2004 as the inaugural holder of the John F. Scarpa Chair in Catholic Legal Studies and now also serves as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  Professor Brennan works in the tradition of reflection on natural law and natural rights to examine a wide range of questions in jurisprudence and public law, including sovereignty, equality authority, the rule of law, constitutionalism, the family, and punishment and forgiveness, as well as topics in administrative law, constitutional law, federal jurisdiction, religious liberty and the liberty of the church, and criminal law.  He regularly teaches constitutional law, administrative law, federal courts, criminal law, and a range of courses in jurisprudence.

Professor Brennan has published some fifty articles and book chapters.  His most recent book, The Sovereignty of the Good: An Essay on Law, Authority, and the Church, will be published by Oxford University Press.  He has also published By Nature Equal: The Anatomy of a Western Insight (Princeton University Press 1999) (with John Coons), Civilizing Authority: Society, State, and Church (Lexington 2007), and the Vocation of the Child (W.B. Eeerdmans 2008).  He currently co-authoring Christian Perspectives on Law: Cases and Materials (with William Brewbaker III).  

Before coming to Villanova, Professor Brennan was for eight years a faculty member in the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, where for several years he served as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Research and later as Vice Dean.  Previously, Brennan was associated with major law firms in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.  Brennan clerked for Hon. John T. Noonan, Jr., on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco.

A native of California, Brennan earned his J.D. from Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall), U.C. Berkeley, where he won many awards and was elected to the Order of the Coif.  Prior to law school, Brennan earned an M.A. and pursued doctoral course work in philosophy at the University of Toronto, taking many of his courses there in the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.  He was graduated from Yale College with a B.A. in philosophy with honors and distinction in the major.  At Yale, Brennan also studied Greek and Latin and won the Jacob Cooper Prize for the best essay on ancient Greek philosophy. 

Professor Brennan has been a visiting professor in the Boston College Law School and a senior research fellow at the Robbins Collection of Canon and Civil Law at U.C. Berkeley.  Brennan has also been a scholar in residence at the Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America, where he delivered the Brendan F. Brown Lecture in 2006.  Brennan has delivered the Yves Simon Lecture at the University of Chicago and the Donald M. Giannella Lecture at Villanova University.

At Villanova, Brennan organizes the annual John F. Scarpa Conference on Law, Politics, and Culture.  Keynote speakers have included the late Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Justice Antonin Scalia, Martha Nussbaum, Joseph Vining, John Ferejohn, and William Eskridge.  Other speakers have included Jeremy Waldron, Geoff Stone, Jesse Choper, Lee Bollinger, Roderick Hills, Jane Schacter, Kristin Hickman, Jefferson Powell, Amy Uelmen, Richard Garnett, Kent Greenawalt, and many others.

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Publications and Multimedia
FCC v. Fox - Post-Decision SCOTUScast
SCOTUScast 07-03-12 featuring Erik Jaffe and Patrick Brennan
July 03, 2012
FCC v. Fox - Post-Argument SCOTUScast
SCOTUScast 02-01-12 featuring Erik Jaffe and Patrick Brennan
February 01, 2012
Foundational Issues - Catholic Perspective - Event Audio/Video
2008 Church Autonomy Conference
March 14, 2008