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Joseph Postell

Associate Professor of Politics

Kendall Hall 406

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“The opportunity to be at leisure to think about the most fundamental and pressing questions of modern life is precious and transformative.”


As a first-year undergraduate at a liberal arts college, my own life was changed over several evenings of reading in the library about the history of the French Revolution. It was in that moment that I realized the importance of the perennial and perplexing questions in which we engage in the liberal arts setting. I switched my major to political science, history, and philosophy, and have never looked back.  

In my graduate studies, I focused extensively on political theory, but my current thinking and research are directed to understanding the political institutions that determine how politics works in America. I am especially interested in understanding the modern administrative state, Congress, and political parties. We must grapple with the interaction of these institutions, and how they relate to the basic principles of American constitutionalism, if we want to preserve and restore constitutional government in the United States.

In my teaching, I aim to engage students in a common enterprise, where we think together and discuss fundamental questions. My goal is not to instruct, but to educate students. That requires active and thoughtful engagement rather than passively receiving information. I am blessed to be at a place like Hillsdale where the students are drawn to this model of education and thrive in such an environment.   


B.A. Ashland University, 2001

M.A. University of Dallas, 2005

Ph.D. University of Dallas, 2010


2017-18 Visiting Fellow in American Political Thought, Heritage Foundation

Courses Taught

POL 101: U.S. Constitution

POL 302: Congress

POL 306 / 746: Parties & Elections

POL 307: Administrative Law

POL 393 / 526: Environmental Law & Public Policy

POL 741: The American Congress


"Core Documents Editors' Roundtable: U.S. Congress," We the Teachers, Ashbrook Center, Ashland University, March 3, 2021.

"The Decision of 1946: The Legislative Reorganization Act and the APA," Gray Matters, Podcast of the C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State, George Mason University, October 19, 2020.

"Assessment of the 116th Congress," C-SPAN, August 30, 2019.

"Interview with Prof. Joseph Postell," Anchoring Truths, James Wilson Institute on Natural Rights and the American Founding, October 9, 2018.

"Bureaucracy in America," The Federalist Society Regulatory Transparency Project, August 10, 2017.

Selected Book Reviews

"Scapegoating Newt," review of Julian E. Zelizer, Burning Down the House. Law & Liberty, April 12, 2022.

"Party Like It's 1799," review of Robert Ross Winter, The Framers’ Intentions: The Myth of the Nonpartisan Constitution. Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2020.

"Are Progressives Un-American?," review of Bradley C. S. Watson, Progressivism: The Strange History of a Radical Idea. Modern Age, September 8, 2020.

"A Plea for a Federalist Presidency," review of Stephen F. Knott, The Lost Soul of the American Presidency. Law & Liberty, July 14, 2020.

"What's the Matter with Congress?," review of Randall Strahan, Leading Representatives: The Agency of Leaders in the Politics of the U.S. House. Claremont Review of Books, Spring 2018.

"Both Sides of the Table," review of Daniel DiSalvo, Government against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences. Claremont Review of Books, Fall 2015.


Edited, with Steven F. Pittz. American Citizenship and Constitutionalism in Principle and Practice.  Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2022. 

Edited. U.S. Congress: Core Documents. Ashland: Ashbrook Press, 2020.

Edited, with Johnathan O’Neill. American Conservatism, 1900-1930: A Reader. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019.

Bureaucracy in America: The Administrative State’s Challenge to Constitutional Government. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2017.

Edited, with Johnathan O’Neill. Toward an American Conservatism: Constitutional Conservatism during the Progressive Era. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Edited, with Bradley C.S. Watson. Rediscovering Political Economy. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2011.

Selected Articles & Book Chapters

"The Myth of the State Nondelegation Doctrines." Administrative Law Review 74, no. 2, Spring 2022.

“The Controlling Power of Organization: Constitutional Conservatism and the Defense of Strong Parties,” in The American Contribution to Citizenship and Constitutionalism, ed. Joseph Postell and Steven Pittz, 2022.

"Emergency Powers and State Legislative Capacity during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” N.Y.U. Journal of Law and Liberty 15: 628-657, 2022.

"A More Perfect Conservatism." Law & Liberty, February 10, 2021.

"The Decision of 1946: The Legislative Reorganization Act and the Administrative Procedure Act." George Mason Law Review 28: 605-642, 2021.

Review of Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule: Law and Leviathan: Redeeming the Administrative State. The Review of Politics 83, no. 3: 446-448, 2021.

"The Ambiguity of Expertise in the Administrative State." Social Philosophy and Policy 38, no. 1: 85-108, 2021.

The Misunderstood Thomas Cooley: Regulation from the Founding to the ICC,” Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy 18: 75-103, 2020.

"The Nondelegation Doctrine After Gundy.” N.Y.U. Journal of Law and Liberty 13: 280-325, 2019.

Wth Paul D. Moreno. "Not Dead Yet – Or Never Born? The Reality of the Nondelegation Doctrine.” Constitutional Studies 3: 41-67, 2018.

'The People Surrender Nothing': Social Compact Theory, Republicanism, and the Modern Administrative State. Missouri Law Review 81: 1003-1022, 2016.

"Regulation during the American Founding: Achieving Liberalism and Republicanism." American Political Thought 5, no. 1: 80-108, 2016.

"Progressive or Postmodern? The Use and Disadvantage of 'Founders versus Progressives'." Perspectives on Political Science 42, No.4: 233-241, 2013.