David Skover

David Skover

Professor Emeritus

 Sullivan Hall 430


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  • Constitutional Law
  • Federal Courts
  • Mass Communications Theory
  • First Amendment and the Internet


  • A.B., Princeton University, 1974; Woodrow Wilson Scholar
  • J.D., Yale Law School, 1978; Yale Law Journal editor and note author
  • Clerk to Judge Jon O. Newman, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit


David M. Skover is the Fredric C. Tausend Professor of Law at Seattle University School of Law. He teaches, writes, and lectures in the fields of federal constitutional law, federal jurisdiction, mass communications theory and First Amendment jurisprudence. David graduated from the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Domestic Affairs at Princeton University. He received his law degree from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. Thereafter, he served as a law clerk for Judge Jon O. Newman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City.

Skover is the co-author of nine books: The People v. Ferlinghetti: The Fight to Publish Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) (with Ronald Collins); Robotica: Speech Rights & Artificial Intelligence (Cambridge University Press, 2018) (with Collins); The Judge: 26 Machiavellian Lessons (Oxford University Press, 2017) (with Collins); When Money Speaks: The McCutcheon Decision, Campaign Finance Laws, and the First Amendment (Top Five Books, 2014) (with Collins); Mania: The Story of the Outraged & Outrageous Lives That Launched a Cultural Revolution (Top Five Books, 2013) (with Collins); On Dissent (Cambridge University Press, 2013) (with Collins); The Trials of Lenny Bruce (Sourcebooks, 2002; Top Five Books, 2nd edition 2013) (with Collins) (Los Angeles Times selection for "Best Book of the Year"); The Death of Discourse (Westview Press, 1996; Carolina Academic Press, 2nd edition 2005) (with Collins); and Tactics of Legal Reasoning (Carolina Academic Press, 1986) (with Pierre Schlag).

In addition, he has co-authored with Ronald Collins some forty scholarly pieces in various journals, including The Supreme Court Review, Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Texas Law Review, The Nation magazine, and the Yale Bibliographical Dictionary of American Law.

In 2003, Collins and Skover successfully petitioned the governor of New York to posthumously pardon Lenny Bruce. And in 2004, they received the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award for The Trials of Lenny Bruce and their pardon effort.

Skover appears frequently on network affiliate television, is heard often on radio interviews, and has been quoted in the national popular press (e.g. NYT, WSJ, WP, LAT, etc.) on a spectrum of issues ranging from First Amendment law to pop media culture and theory. He also performs regionally as a dramatic actor, musical theater actor, and cabaret singer. For more information, see skoveronline.net.


The People v. Ferlinghetti (Rowman & Littlefield, March 2019) 
    (with Ronald Collins)

  • Book Events: Politics & Prose Bookstore (Washington DC, 3/17/2019), Strand Bookstore Interview with John Leland (New York City, 3/18/2019), City Lights Bookstore (San Francisco, 3/26/2019); Elliott Bay Bookstore (Seattle, 6/2019)

Robotica: Speech Rights & Artificial Intelligence (Cambridge University Press, 2018) 
    (with Ronald Collins)

  • Presented on Robotic Speech & the First Amendment Panel at Seattle University Law Review Symposium on Artificial Intelligence & the Law, together with Bruce Johnson and Professor Helen Norton who wrote commentaries for Robotica(Seattle, 3/2018); Seattle Historical Society, "Words, Writers, and West Seattle" Presentation (11/8/2018)
  • Featured article: "Robotica: First Book on Speech Rights & Artificial Intelligence Published," First Amendment News in Concurring Opinions (5/23/2018)
  • "So To Speak" Podcast with Nico Perrino, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (Washington, DC 8/9/2018)

The Judge: 26 Machiavellian Lessons (Oxford University Press, 2017) 
    (with Ronald Collins)

  • Reviewed by Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Circuit Court of Appeals) for Law 360: "Judging a Book: Kozinski Reviews 'The Judge.'"
  • Reviewed by a Madras high court advocate in India: "Is Law Political," in The Wire.
  • KIRO 97.3 FM "Seattle Morning News Interview with David Skover on The Judge (10/18/2017)
  • Book Events: Seattle University Law School "Influential Voices" Conversation between Skover & Washington State Superior Court Judge Judith Ramseyer (10/17/2017); Los Angeles County Bar Association CLE Interview by 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski with Collins & Skover (10/19/2017); University of Washington Law Schoool Interview by Federal District Court Judge Robert Lasnik with Collins & Skover (10/20/2017); Elliot Bay Book Store Interview by Washington Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu with Collins & Skover (10/21/2017); Politics & Prose Book Store interview by Adam Liptak (New York Times) (11/10/17); Andrew Hamm, "Ask The Authors: When 'Machiavellian' Is a Compliment,"SCOTUSblog (11/30/17) (Q&A exchange); Seattle Historical Society, "Words, Writers & West Seattle" Presentation by Skover (5/10/18)

When Money Speaks: The McCutcheon Case, Campaign Finance Laws, and the First Amendment(SCOTUS Books-in-Brief, 2014) 
    (with Ronald Collins)

  • The first volume in the e-book series SCOTUS Books-in-Brief, a new electronic imprint of Top Five Books
  • Described by constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky as "a brilliant discussion of campaign finance in America. When Money Speaks is a must for all who care about the American political system." First Amendment advocate Floyd Abrams declares that the book "provides a thorough, dispassionate, and immensely readable overview of the Supreme Court's latest offering on the stormy and ever fascinating topic of the relationship between the First Amendment and campaign finance regulation."
  • Reviewed by Tony Mauro, Supreme Court correspondent for the National Law Journal: "When Money Speaks is and will always be the definitive work on the McCutcheon campaign finance case at the Supreme Court." 

On Dissent: Its Meaning in America (Cambridge University Press, 2013) 
    (with Ronald Collins)

Mania: The Story of the Outrageous and Outraged Lives That Launched a Cultural Revolution(Top Five Books, 2013) 
    (with Ronald Collins)

  • 2013 San Francisco Book Festival Winner: Runner-Up "Best Book in History"
  • 2014 ForeWord Book of the Year Award: Finalist for "Best Book in History"
  • Described by Kirkus Reviews as "a sometimes admiring, sometimes blistering history of the writers who fractured the glass capsule of literary conformity," and praised by James L. Swanson as "a stunning and chilling portrait of rebellious youth gone mad," the book recounts the stories of the major artists, hipsters, and maniacs known as "the Beats" in a dramatic, fast-paced, and often darkly comic narrative. Swanson concludes: "From the macabre killing that opens the book to the grand free speech victory at its climax, Mania is both a celebratory and cautionary tale of American revolt. A remarkable achievement!" 

The Trials of Lenny Bruce (Sourcebooks, 2002; Top Five Books, 2nd edition, 2012) 
    (with Ronald Collins)

  • Named by the Los Angeles Times as one of the "Best Books of 2002" 
  • Recipient of the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award of 2004 for Literature (Legal Biography).  Award received at New York City awards banquet (May 24, 2004).
  • Coauthors' campaign for a posthumous pardon for Lenny Bruce's 1964 obscenity conviction in New York City. That pardon was granted by New York State Governor Pataki on December 23, 2003. 

The Death of Discourse (Westview Press/Harper Collins, 1996) (Carolina Academic Press, 2nd edition, 2005) 
     (with Ronald Collins)

  • "Star" review in Publishers Weekly (January 22, 1996) and book profile in Chronicle of Higher Education (February 16, 1996). Reviewed in Sunday New York Times Book Review section (April 14, 1996, Neil Lewis); American Bar Association Journal (February, 1996); Harvard Law Review (vol. 109, 1996); and Cincinnati Law Review (multiple reviews in full-volume symposium) (vol. 64, 1996), among other publications. Excerpted in Signs of Life (Norton Press, 1997), AdbustersMagazine (Winter, 1996). The book was also the focus of a November 1997 panel discussion at the National Speech Association's annual convention in Chicago. 

Tactics of Legal Reasoning (Carolina Academic Press, 1986) 
     (with Pierre Schlag)

  • Reviewed in Michigan Law Review (vol. 86, 1988).

"The Lenny Bruce Cases: Introduction," in FIRE First Amendment Library, November 2017.

"A Constitutional CameradoInspires Us to Read Our Founding Document," in Washington Independent Review of Books, October 2013.

  • An essay reviewing Garrett Epps, American Epic: Reading the Constitution (Oxford University Press, 2013)

"Foreword: Buckley v. ValeoRevisited," in SCOTUSblog, August 12, 2013 (with Ronald Collins)

  • Lead article, published as "Foreword," in a symposium issue on McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (2014). Participants included Erwin Chemerinsky, Robert Corn-Revere, Joel Gora, Justin Levitt, Tamara Piety, and Adam Winkler.

"The Digital Path of the Law," in Legal Education in the Digital Age (Cambridge University Press, 2012)
     (with Ronald Collins)

  • Lead essay in a book, edited by Edward Rubin, that emerged from the Workshop on the Future of the Legal Course Book, held at Seattle University (9/08)

"The Guardians of Knowledge in the Modern State: Post's Republic & the First Amendment," 87 Washington Law Review 1 (2012)
     (with Ronald Collins)

  • Lead article, published as "Foreword," in a symposium issue on Robert Post's Book, Democracy, Expertise, Academic Freedom (Yale, 2012). Participants included Judge Thomas Ambro and Paul Safier, Joseph Blocher, Paul Horwitz, Bruce Johnson and Sarah Duran, and Stephen Vladeck.

"The National Security Presidency -- A Primer with Provocation," in Concurring Opinions, September 2010.

  • An essay reviewing John Denvir, Freeing Speech: The Constitutional War over National Security (New York University Press, 2010)

"Ruthenberg v. Michigan: An Introduction," essay in Louis D. Brandeis Papers: Ruthenberg v. Michigan (Harvard Law School Online Library, 2010) (with Ronald Collins)

"Paratexts as Praxis," article in symposium issue entitled "Paratexts," in Neohelicon (2010)

"Lenny Bruce," article in Yale Bibliographical Dictionary of American Law (Yale University Press, 2009) (with Ronald Collins)

"Roth v. U.S. and Alberts v. U.S.," in Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States (Macmillan, 2008) 

"Trial of 'Angelheaded Hipsters:'  The Challenge to Howl," Legal Times, November 27, 2006. 

  • An essay reviewing Howl on Trial: The Battle for Free Expression, edited by Bill Morgan & Nancy Peters(City Lights Publishing, 2006)

"A Curious Concurrence: Justice Brandeis' Vote in Whitney v. California," 2005 Supreme Court Review 333 (2006) 
     (with Ronald Collins)

  • A piece of jurisprudential sleuthing, this piece explains Justice Brandeis's puzzling concurrence in Whitney and presents the never-before-published Ruthenberg v. Michigan opinion that is central to resolution of the puzzle.
  • Publicly recognized for excellence in the Legal History Blog.

"What Is War?  Reflections on Free Speech in 'Wartime'," 36 Rutgers Law Journal 833 (2005)
     (with Ronald Collins)

  • Article in a symposium issue emerging from Conference on Free Speech in Wartime (1/05).  Participants included Floyd Abrams, Derrick Bell, David Cole, Elena Kagan, David Rabban, Frederick Schauer, Geoffrey Stone, David Strauss, and Nadine Strossen

"War Talk: Free Speech in Times of Armed Conflict," Legal Times, November 1, 2004, p. 26

  • An essay reviewing Geoffrey R. Stone, Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime (Norton, 2004)

"The Landmark Free Speech Case That Wasn't," 54 Case Western Reserve Law Review 965 (2004) 
     (with Ronald Collins)

  • Lead article, published as "Foreword," in a symposium issue entitled Modern Commercial Speech after Nike v. Kasky. Participants included Erwin Chemerinsky, C. Edwin Baker, Rodney Smolla, Robert O'Neil, David Vladeck, Alan Morrison, and Bruce Johnson. 

"LesBiGay Identity as Commodity," 90 California Law Review 223 (2002) 
     (with Kellye Testy)

  • Presented at the Conference on Retheorizing Commodification at the University of Denver Law School in March, 2001.

"We're All Censors Now?" in Books-on-Law, vol. 1, no. 7 (October, 1998) 
     (with Ronald Collins)

  • An essay reviewing Robert C. Post, editor, Censorship and Silencing: Practices of Cultural Regulation (Getty Trust Publications, 1998).

"Speech & Power," in The Nation Magazine, July 21, 1998, p. 12 
     (with Ronald Collins)

  • Lead article in a Nation Magazine forum entitled: Speech & Power: Is First Amendment Absolutism Obsolete?

"New 'Truths' and the Old First Amendment," the Afterword to "Noble Lies & The First Amendment: A Symposium on The Death of Discourse," 64 University of Cincinnati Law Review 1315 (1996) (with Ronald Collins)

  • A reply to commentary on The Death of Discourse by professors in philosophy, law, communications theory, and religious studies, including Shadia Drury, Robert Hariman, David Kairys, David Nyberg, Loyal Rue, and Richard Stivers.

"The Pornographic State," 107 Harvard Law Review 1374 (1994) 
     (with Ronald Collins)

"Commerce & Communication," 40 Texas Law Review 697 (1993) 
    (with Ronald Collins)

  • Lead article in a symposium issue with responses by a jurist, a law professor, and advertising & marketing experts.  Excerpted in Stone, Seidman, Sunstein, Tushnet, Constitutional Law (3rd edition).

"The Psychology of Contemporary First Amendment Discourse: A Reply," 
     40 Texas Law Review 819 (1993) (with Ronald Collins)

  • A reply to commentary on "Commerce & Communication" by Judge Alex Koxinski, Rodney Smolla, Leo Bogart, and SutJhally.

"Pissing in the Snow: A Cultural Approach to the First Amendment," 
     45 Stanford Law Review 783 (1993) (with Ronald Collins)

"Paratexts," 44 Stanford Law Review 509 (1992) (with Ronald Collins)

"The First Amendment in an Age of Paratroopers," 
     68 Texas Law Review 1087 (1990) (with Ronald Collins)

  • Lead article in a symposium issue with responses by a noted columnist and professors of political science, sociology, and law.  Excerpted in Stone, Seidman, Sunstein, Tushnet, Constitutional Law (3rd edition).

"The First Amendment in Bold Relief: A Reply," 48 Texas Law Review 1087 
     (1990) (with Ronald Collins)

  • A reply to commentary on "The First Amendment in an Age of Paratroopers" by Max Lerner, David O'Brien, Martin Redish, Edward Rubin, Herbert Schiller, and Mark Tushnet.

"The Future of Liberal Legal Scholarship," 87 Michigan Law Review 601
     (1988) (with Ronald Collins)

  • Excerpted in Gerhardt & Rowe, editors, Constitutional Theory (1993).

"State Action Doctrine" and "Political Question Doctrine" in Levy, Karst, & Mahoney, editors, Encyclopedia of the American Constitution (MacMillan, 2nd edition, 1991)

"Reconstituting 'Original Intent:' A Constitutional Law Encyclopedia for the Next Century," 86 Michigan Law Review 1257 (1988)

  • An essay reviewing Levy, Karst, & Mahoney, editors, Encyclopedia of the American Constitution (MacMillan, 1st edition, 1987).

"The Senator and the Constitution: An Interview with Orrin G. Hatch," 16 Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 141 (1989) (with Ronald Collins)

"Licenses and Restraints of 'Our Federalism:' State Power under the Federal Constitution," in State Constitutional Law in the American Federal System(Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, 1988)

"'Phoenix Rising' and Federalism Analysis," 13 Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 271 (1986)

"The Washington Constitutional 'State Action' Doctrine: A Fundamental Right to State Action," 8 University of Puget Sounds Law Review 221 (1985)

"The Constitutionality of Limitations upon Donations to Political Committees in the 1976 Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments," 86 Yale Law Journal 953 (1977)

  • Cited in Justice Blackmun's concurring opinion in California Medical Associates v. Federal Election Commission 453 U.S. 182, 202 (1981). 

Op-Ed Pieces

"Kerouac's Creed," Washington Independent Review of Books, March 12, 2013 (with Ronald Collins)

"Pardoning Lenny Bruce's Language," Forward, January 2, 2004 (with Ronald Collins)

"Constitution Should Tell It Like It Is," National Law Journal, January 18, 1999, sec. A, p. 25

"Video & the Nation-Jury," Christian Science Monitor, May 11, 1992, p. 19, col. 1 (with Ronald Collins)

"Art v. Obscenity -- Drawing Distinctions," Christian Science Monitor, April 6,1992, p. 13, col. 4 (with Ronald Collins)

  • An essay reviewing Edward de Grazia, The Law of Obscenity & The Assault on Genius (Random House, 1992).

"Commercialism v. Culture," Christian Science Monitor, September 19, 1990, (with Ronald Collins)

"The Two Meeses: Political Liability, Ideological Asset," Baltimore Sun, July 10, 1988, sec. E, p. 1, col. 1 (with Ronald Collins)

"Abortion Pickets Within Constitutional Right," Tacoma News Tribune, July 26, 1987, sec. E, p. 5


In the News

Limiting freedom of speech on the internet is acceptable

November 26, 2018 | The Daily

Professor David Skover distinguishes government from private entities in debate over free speech.