John Golden

John Golden
  • The University of Texas at Austin School of Law
  • Edward S. Knight Chair in Law, Entrepreneurialism and Innovation
  • Faculty Fellow (2021-2022)
  • "Resilient Legal Systems for Innovation, Risk Regulation, and Democratic Governance"

John Golden is the Edward S. Knight Chair in Law, Entrepreneurialism and Innovation at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. At the law school, he also serves as faculty director of the Andrew Ben White Center in Law, Science and Social Policy. Professor Golden has taught courses on administrative law, contracts, patent law, and innovation and intellectual property. His main research interests involve questions of intellectual property, innovation policy, and government structure, procedures, and norms of practice. 

He is a co-author of Principles of Patent Law (7th ed., 2018). He has authored or coauthored various articles and book chapters, including articles appearing in leading law journals such as the Columbia Law Review, Texas Law Review, and Harvard Journal of Law & Technology. He has also co-authored multiple physics articles published in Physical Review B.

Golden obtained a Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard University before attending law school. After law school, he clerked for the Honorable Michael Boudin of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and then for Associate Justice Stephen Breyer of the United States Supreme Court. Professor Golden has previously had academic visits at Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology & Society and Law & Economics Center, and the University of California, Berkeley, College of Engineering.


  • Congressional Power, Public Rights, and Non-Article III Adjudication

    Notre Dame Law Review, 2023

    John Golden, Thomas H. Lee

    When can Congress vest in administrative agencies or other non–Article III federal courts the power to adjudicate any of the nine types of “Cases” or “Controversies” listed in Article III of the United States Constitution?  The core doctrine holds that Congress may employ non–Article III adjudicators in territorial courts, in military courts, and for decision of matters of public right.  Scholars have criticized this so-called “public rights” doctrine as incoherent but have struggled to offer a more cogent answer.

    This Article provides a new, overarching explanation of when and why Congress may use non–Article III federal officials to adjudicate matters of public right as well as matters in territorial and military courts.  We reorganize the traditional categories into three overlapping spheres where such non–Article III adjudication may occur: (1) a case occurs in a physical space beyond the control of the states and therefore does not implicate preexisting state decisional primacy over matters of private right (e.g., territorial courts); (2) a case lies within the national government’s operational space, in which Congress and the executive cooperate to manage the government’s internal affairs (e.g., via courts martial) and to administer statutorily created rights or benefits (e.g., a grant of a land or invention patent); or (3) a case involves a claim against a private party brought by the government or another private party within a properly bounded enforcement space of a federal regulatory scheme (e.g., NLRB adjudication of labor-management disputes).  Our account of the public-rights doctrine is functionally grounded but also deeply rooted in history.  This account both explains the caselaw and squares the doctrine with the modern ubiquity of non–Article III adjudication.

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  • Federalism, Private Rights, and Article III Adjudication

    Virginia Law Review, 2022

    John Golden, Thomas H. Lee

    This Article sheds new light on the private rights/public rights distinction used by the Supreme Court to assess the extent to which the United States Constitution permits adjudication by a non-Article III federal tribunal. State courts have traditionally been the primary deciders of lawsuits over private rights—historically defined as suits regarding “the liability of one individual to another under the law as defined.” If Congress could limitlessly assign adjudication of private rights cases to federal officials lacking the life tenure and salary protections of Article III judges, the political branches of the federal government would enjoy vastly expanded authority to encroach on state courts’ traditional authority to decide common-law and equity cases between individuals. We argue that such vast congressional power is inconsistent with the limits on federal authority in a constitutional scheme in which state courts have traditionally dominated the adjudication of ordinary private disputes and in which Congress’s power of direct taxation and ability to create lower federal courts were hard-won concessions. Article III’s implicit constraints on congressional power to confer private rights cases on non-Article III federal tribunals effectively checks federal power to supplant state-court adjudication by requiring that adjudicative power over such cases go substantially to Article III courts, bodies constitutionally insulated from congressional control. The private rights/public rights distinction thus operationalizes a principle of constitutional federalism through the mechanism of federal-level separation of powers. Article III’s federalism underlay explains the Supreme Court’s special concern with non-Article III adjudication of state-law claims and of questions of “jurisdictional” fact—two doctrinal positions that have puzzled commentators focused on the threat that proliferation of non-Article III tribunals poses to the power of Article III courts, rather than to the power of state courts and local juries. By showing how federalism is an important part of the non-Article III adjudication puzzle, this Article complements prior accounts that focus solely on concerns with the separation powers and individual liberty.

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