Donald P. Kommers

Don Kommers Resized Image


Emeritus Faculty


Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor of Political Science and Concurrent Professor of Law Emeritus


Constitutional Law and Politics


Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1962

Research and Teaching Interests

German and American politics, American and comparative constitutional law, civil liberties legislation, religion and politics, and international human rights law


Kommers is the author of well over 100 major articles and books, including the widely acclaimed work, The Constitutional Jurisprudence of the Federal Republic of Germany, the 3rd edition of which was published in 2012 by the Duke University Press and recently reviewed with high praise in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He is also the co-author of a leading course book, American Constitutional Law: Essays, Cases, and Comparative Notes, also in its 3rd edition. His next book, Germany’s Constitutional Odyssey, is expected to be published in 2017. Kommers has lectured widely in dozens of American colleges and universities as well as at selected universities in Germany, Japan, Austria, Chili, Italy, and Croatia. At Notre Dame, he has served as the director of the Law School’s Center for Civil and International Human Rights from 1976 to 1981 and as the editor of The Review of Politics from 1981 to 1992. 

He is also the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, among them an honorary doctor of laws degree from Heidelberg University (Germany), an honorary doctorate from St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisconsin, the Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association, the Alexander von Humboldt Prize for Senior Scholars, and the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin which offered him a coveted residential fellowship at the American Academy in 2009 where he continued his work on various aspects of German law and politics. He is also the recipient of major fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Max Planck Society, Rockefeller Foundation, German Marshal Fund of the United States, U.S. Fulbright Program, Andrew Mellon Foundation, and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). He has also served as President of the National Conference Group on German Politics and as an advisor to President Carter’s Commission on the Holocaust. 

On 8 November 2010, Germany’s Federal President awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his three decades of scholarship on German life and law and for having “remarkably enriched both the American and German legal systems and building a bridge between our two countries as few others have.” More recently, on 26-27 October 2012, the American Academy of Berlin, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Justice, and Berlin’s renowned Institute of Advanced Study cosponsored a symposium in his honor in Berlin. The symposium, which celebrated what was called “his extraordinary body of work in German constitutional scholarship,” was entitled “The Curious Life of the Grundgesetz (Germany’s Constitution) in America.” 

Over the years Professor Kommers has taught a wide variety of courses in German and American politics, American and comparative constitutional law, civil liberties legislation, religion and politics, and international human rights law. He earned his B.A. in philosophy and English literature from the Catholic University of America and his advanced degrees (M.A. and Ph.D.) in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also studied law. As Professor Emeritus, he continues to teach in the undergraduate constitutional studies program and offers an advanced seminar in comparative constitutional law in the Notre Dame Law School. 

About The Robbie Chair 

The Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Chair in Government and International Studies, established in 1976, is the gift of Joseph Robbie in memory of his son, Dr. David L. Robbie, a 1966 cum laude graduate of the University who died in 1976. A native of South Dakota, Mr. Robbie practiced law early in his career in his home state before moving to Minneapolis in 1953, where he became active in urban governmental planning. In 1965, he founded the Miami Dolphins franchise of the National Football League and engaged in numerous Dade County, Florida, civic, charitable and political activities. He also served on the Advisory Council for the University’s College of Arts and Letters. Joseph Robbie died in 1990, and his wife Elizabeth died in 1991.


Contact Information

Phone: 574-631-6304
Fax: 574-631-4197

Mailing Address

Department of Political Science
2060 Jenkins Nanovic Halls
Notre Dame, IN 46556


kommers cv