Professor Robert G. Natelson, who contracts with II, heads the Institute’s Constitutional Studies Center and its Article V Information Center. His vast range of experience includes education, outdoorsmanship, grass-roots activism, commercial talk radio, small business, initiative and referendum, political campaign management, journalism, and the teaching and practice of several fields of law.
Most importantly, he is a nationally known constitutional scholar and author whose constitutional research has been cited repeatedly by justices and parties at the U.S. Supreme Court==as well as by federal appeals courts, and at least 16 state supreme courts.
Rob is widely acknowledged to be the country’s leading active scholar on the Constitution’s amendment procedure and among the leaders on several other topics. He created the first-ever online bibliography for 18th century materials used in constitutional research.
After eleven years of “Main Street”-style law practice, Rob served 25 years as a law professor at three different universities. He taught Constitutional Law, Constitutional History, Advanced Constitutional Law, and First Amendment. But at various times he also taught real property law, contracts, remedies, commercial law, real estate transactions, trusts, homeowner associations law, water law, oil & gas law, and legal history.
His research into the Constitution’s original meaning has carried him to libraries throughout the United States and in Britain, including four months at Oxford University. His books and articles span many different parts of the Constitution, including groundbreaking studies of the Necessary and Proper Clause, the Indian Commerce Clause, federalism, Founding-Era interpretation, regulation of elections, and the amendment process of Article V.
Since 2013, Rob has become one of the most-cited constitutional scholars by U.S. Supreme Court justices. They have relied explicitly on his research in 39 citations in 11 separate cases. The cases are:
- Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, ___ U.S. ___ (2023) (Thomas & Gorsuch, JJ., concurring)
- United States v. Vaello Madero, 596 U.S. ___ (2022), 141 S.Ct. 1534, 1546 (Thomas, J., concurring)
- Espinoza v. Montana Dep’t of Revenue, 591 U.S. ___ (2020), 140 S.Ct. 2246, 2270 (Alito, J., concurring)
- Haalan v. Brackeen, ___ U.S. ___ (2023) (Thomas, J., dissenting)
- Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion Co. v. Talevski, ___ U.S. ___ (2023) (Thomas, dissenting)
- Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Comm’n, 576 U.S. 787, 836 (2015) (Roberts, C.J., dissenting)
- National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, 573 U.S. 513, 576 (2014) (Scalia, J., concurring)
- Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U.S. 565, 605-05 (2014) (Thomas, J., concurring)
- Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., 570 U.S. 1, 30 (2013) (Thomas, J., dissenting)
- Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 570 U.S. 637, 658-59 & passim (2013) (Thomas, J., concurring).
- Upstate Citizens for Equality v. United States, 583 U.S. ___ (2017), 140 S.Ct. 1287, 1288 (Thomas, J. dissenting from denial of certiorari).
He has been cited on constitutional and non-constitutional subjects in these federal appeals court cases:
- By Justice (then Judge) Gorsuch in Kerr v. Hickenlooper, 754 F.3d 1156,1195 (10th Cir. 2014) (dissenting)
- Koch v. Village of Heartland, 73 F.4th 747, 752 (2022 (op. for court, St. Eve, J.)
- United States Telecom Ass’n v. Federal Communications Comm’n, 855 F.3d 381, 414 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (Srinivasan J., concurring)
- Upstate Citizens for Equality v. United States, 841 F.3d 556, 568 (2d Cir. 2016) (op. for court, Carney, J.)
- Berlin v. Renaissance Rental Partners, 723 F.3d 119 (2d Cir. 2013) (Jacobs, C.J., dissenting)
- CREW v. Trump, 939 F.3d , 131, 162 (2d Cir. 2019) (Walker, J., dissenting)
Rob’s work on constitutional and non-constitutional subjects also has been relied upon by:
- the highest state courts in Alaska, California, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington;
- the highest court of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico;
- intermediate state appellate courts in Oregon and Washington; and
- U.S. District Courts in Colorado, Maine Nevada, and Wisconsin.
He is a principal author of several Supreme Court briefs submitted by the Independence Institute and other organizations to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and the Colorado and Montana Supreme Courts.
In addition to his work on U.S. constitutional issues:
- in conjunction with his eldest daughter Rebecca, he edited the first complete Internet versions of the Emperor Justinian’s great Roman law collection (in Latin);
- he has published widely on property law, legal history, legal remedies, and the initiative and referendum process; and
- he has published extensive historical and legal research on the Montana state constitution, and he created the database the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Montana Constitution.
He is a member of the Board of Scholars of the American Legislative Exchange Council. He formerly served as a senior advisor to the Convention of States Project and as Senior Fellow at the Initiative and Referendum Institute.
There are several keys to his success as a scholar. First, unlike most constitutional writers, he actually practiced law for over a decade—and his law practice bore some resemblance to that pursued by several of the American Founders (real estate, commercial, etc.). Second, his experience in the real world of business, communications, and politics provide valuable perspective most constitutional writers lack. Third, unlike most other constitutional writers, he has academic training in history and in the Greco-Roman classics that were the mainstay of Founding-Era education. Finally, he does not enter a research project to promote some pre-determined conclusion. His agenda is to find and publish the truth.
For the popular market, Rob authored the highly influential Article V Handbook for state lawmakers and the popular book, The Original Constitution: What It Actually Said and Meant. His contributions have appeared in the following national outlets: The Washington Post, the Washington Times, The Economist, the Epoch Times, the American Spectator, the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, the Daily Caller, Townhall.com, The Hill, and CNSNews.
Activities in Colorado and Montana
He grew up on the Revolutionary War town of Stony Point, New York—which helps explain his interest in the American Founding—but he has split most of his adult life between Colorado (1977-1987; 2011-present and Montana (1987-2011). His writings have appeared in most major news outlets in Colorado and in all major news outlets in Montana, and he regularly makes personal appearances in both states. His professional offices are in Colorado, as is his law license. When living in Montana, he created and hosted the state’s first statewide commercial radio talk show; became Montana’s best known political activist; led victorious ballot-issue campaigns, including the most successful petition-referendum drive in the state’s history; and helped push through several important pieces of legislation. In June 2000, he was the runner-up among five candidates in the party primaries for Governor of the State of Montana.
Recreation? He loves to spend time in the great outdoors, where he enjoys skiing and hiking, either alone or in the company of his wife, daughters, and sons-in-law. He also likes travel, science fiction, and opera, and is active in the Denver Lyric Opera Guild.