Matthew J. Franck, PhD

Matthew J. Franck is the Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution.  He is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Radford University, in Radford, Virginia, where he taught constitutional law, American politics, and political philosophy from 1989 to 2010, was Chairman of the  Department of Political Science from 1995 to 2010, and received the Radford University Foundation Award for Creative Scholarship in 2001.  He is also Visiting Lecturer in Politics at Princeton University.

As Director of the Simon Center, Franck has supervised the work of the Task Force on International Religious Freedom, chaired by Senior Fellow Thomas F. Farr, which resulted in the Institute-published monograph Religious Freedom: Why Now? Defending an Embattled Human Right, authored by Timothy Samuel Shah and edited by Franck; and the Task Force on Conscience Protection, soon to publish (with St. Augustine’s Press) a volume of essays on institutional conscience, edited by task force chair and Senior Fellow Helen Alvaré.  Franck, Alvaré, and Senior Fellow Gerard V. Bradley recently convened a select group of consulting scholars for discussions that will inform a forthcoming monograph on “The New Secularism.”

Franck also supervises two of the Institute’s summer seminars: the annual Moral Foundations of Law seminar, led by Prof. Bradley, in which Franck also teaches; and the biennial Church and State seminar, whose faculty are leading scholars of early American religious history.  The Center also hosts the annual William E. and Carol G. Simon Lecture on Religion in American Public Life.

In directing the Simon Center, Franck helps maintain the Witherspoon Institute’s collegial relations with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Religious Freedom Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center (whose annual National Religious Freedom Award dinner he has emceed), and the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.  He serves on the steering committee of the Religious Freedom Project’s “Christianity and Freedom” initiative, which hosted a conference in Rome in December 2013, co-sponsored by Baylor University’s Institute for the Study of Religion and the Witherspoon Institute. 

With the recent arrival of Senior Fellow in Human Rights Chen Guangcheng, the Simon Center now has a relationship as well with the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America, where Chen is jointly appointed as a Visiting Fellow, and with the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, where Chen is a Senior Distinguished Advisor.

Franck earned his B.A. in political science (magna cum laude) from Virginia Wesleyan College, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Northern Illinois University.  He was a Henry J. Salvatori Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, 1993-95, J. William Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the Graduate School of International Studies, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, 1998, and a Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, 2008-09. 

He is the author of Against the Imperial Judiciary: The Supreme Court vs. the Sovereignty of the People (Kansas, 1996); co-editor with Richard G. Stevens of Sober As a Judge: The Supreme Court and Republican Liberty (Lexington, 1999); and contributor to History of American Political Thought (Lexington, 2003), The Heritage Guide to the Constitution (2005, 2012), Ourselves and Our Posterity: Essays in Constitutional Originalism (Lexington, 2009), Print the Legend: Politics, Culture, and Civic Virtue in the Films of John Ford (Lexington, 2009), and The George W. Bush Presidency: A Rhetorical Perspective (Lexington, 2012).  In May 2014, Transaction Publishers will publish a centennial edition, with his new critical introduction, of Edward S. Corwin’s 1914 classic The Doctrine of Judicial Review: Its Legal and Historical Basis, and Other Essays.  Franck has also published essays and reviews in numerous academic journals, including The Review of Politics, Journal of Politics, American Political Thought, Law and Politics Book Review, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Catholic Social Science Review, Academic Questions, Texas Review of Law and Politics, the Federalist Society’s Engage magazine, and Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, and Public Policy, as well as in general-interest publications including the Claremont Review of Books, Imprimis, The New Atlantis, the Washington Post, First Things, National Review, and Witherspoon’s own Public Discourse

Franck is a regular blogger on National Review Online’s “Bench Memos” page and the “First Thoughts” page at First Things, and has appeared numerous times on Bill Bennett’s nationally syndicated “Morning in America” radio show, as well as on Fox News, CNN, NPR, and Relevant Radio.  He has testified before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary in the U.S. House of Representatives, and has given presentations at many professional academic meetings, as well as invited lectures at Princeton University, the University of London, the University of Notre Dame, Union University, St. Vincent College, Oglethorpe University, Neumann University, Villanova University, Utah Valley University, and Hillsdale College, among other venues.  Franck is married to Gwen O. Brown, Professor Emerita of Communication at Radford University.  They live in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Franck can be followed on Twitter at @MatthewJFranck