Anuj Desai

Volkman-Bascom Professor of Law

Anuj  Desai

Room 8102, Law School

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J.D., Univ. of California-Berkeley (Berkeley Law)
Master's in International Affairs, Columbia U.
A.B. (Mathematics), Harvard University


Anuj C. Desai is the Volkman-Bascom Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin, where he teaches in both the Law School and the iSchool (The Information School), offering classes in Cyberlaw, First Amendment, Intellectual Freedom, Statutory Interpretation, and Legislation and Regulation.

Professor Desai writes in a variety of different areas, with a focus on understanding how social, historical, and institutional contexts shape law. His publications have appeared in the Stanford Law ReviewNorthwestern University Law ReviewLaw and Social InquiryFederal Communications Law JournalJournal of Institutional Studies, and University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law. His papers are available for download on the Social Science Research Network.

Professor Desai has served as a visiting professor at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, China; National Tsing Hua University Institute of Law for Science and Technology in Hsinchu, Taiwan; and National Taiwan University College of Law in Taipei, Taiwan.  He is also co-director of the Law School's summer program in International and Comparative Law in Giessen, Germany.

In addition, he has served as an administrative appellate judge on the Administrative Review Board of the United States Department of Labor; as a Senate-confirmed member of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, an independent, quasi-judicial agency of the United States Department of Justice that adjudicates claims of U.S. nationals against foreign governments; as a member of a National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine's panel studying options for the future management of dual-use research of concern; and as counsel to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the General Counsel's Office of the Office of Management and Budget, part of the Executive Office of the President

Prior to entering academia, Professor Desai practiced law with the Seattle, Washington firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, where his practice focused primarily on First Amendment, defamation, newsgathering, copyright and trademark litigation. Before his time in private practice, he served as a legal assistant to the American judges at the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague and clerked for the late Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and Judge David S. Tatel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He also worked briefly in the Legal Adviser's Office at the U.S. State Department and also at the Legal Resources Centre in Grahamstown, South Africa.  

Professor Desai is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.  He received his A.B. in Mathematics from Harvard University (where he was awarded a Henry Russell Shaw Fellowship), a Master's in International Affairs from Columbia University and a J.D. from the University of California-Berkeley (Berkeley Law), where he was Editor-in-Chief of the California Law Review.


Scholarship & Publications


Law Repository


  • Anuj Desai presented "Regulating Social Media in the Free-Speech Ecosystem" during a conference on The Internet and the Law: Legal Challenges in the New Digital Age, on Nov. 7, 2021. The conference was held at UC Hastings College of Law and was sponsored by the Pound Civil Justice Institute.

  • The 2019 Wisconsin Law Review Symposium, which was chaired by former UW Law Professor Andrew Coan, featured a number of UW Law faculty, including Anuj Desai, Howie Erlanger, Neil Komesar, John Ohnesorge, Asifa Quraishi-Landes, David Schwartz, Miriam Seifter and Rob Yablon. The symposium, titled "Rationing the Constitution: How Judicial Capacity Shapes Supreme Decision-Making,” was held Oct. 24 and 25.

  • Anuj Desai's article, "What a History of Tax Withholding Tells Us About the Relationship Between Statutes and Constitutional Law," was cited in a federal judge's dismissal (PDF) of a lawsuit filed by four states in 2018. Those states — New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland — sued the Treasury Department, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the IRS, among others. The dismissal ended the states' challenge against a new $10,000 cap on the deduction for state and local taxes, also known as SALT.

  • In July, Anuj Desai presented "The Significance of Statutory Audience in Judicial Interpretation of Statutes in the U.S." at the University of Konstanz Seminar on Innovation in Legal Scholarship in Konstanz, Germany.

  • Anuj Desai gave an invited lecture entitled "The U.S. Constitution and Communications Technology" at Renmin University of China Law School in Beijing in early May 2010.

  • Anuj Desai gave an invited lecture entitled "The U.S. Constitution and Communications Technology" at Koguan Law School of Shanghai Jiao Tong University on April 7, 2010.

  • Anuj Desai received the U.S. Postal Service award for scholarship on the history of the American postal system for his two articles "The Transformation of Statutes into Constitutional Law: How Early Post Office Policy Shaped Modern First Amendment Doctrine" and "Wiretapping Before the Wires: The Post Office and the Birth of Communications Privacy."

  • Anuj Desai will spend the 2009-10 academic year in Nanjing, China, teaching at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.  His courses will include American Constitutional Law, History and Philosophy of Law in the West, Cyberlaw, and a seminar on academic legal writing.

News & Media

Teaching Areas

  • Constitutional Law: First Amendment
  • Copyright
  • Cyberlaw
  • Legislation

Recently Taught Courses

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