Ganesh Sitaraman teaches and writes about constitutional law, the regulatory state, economic policy, democracy and foreign affairs. He joined the Vanderbilt Law faculty in 2011 and was named to the New York Alumni Chancellor's Chair in Law in 2021.
He is the director of the Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator, which focuses on cutting-edge topics in political economy and regulation to swiftly bring research, education, and policy proposals from infancy to maturity.
Sitaraman’s most recent book is The Great Democracy: How to Fix Our Politics, Unrig the Economy, and Unite America (Basic Books, 2019). He is also the co-author, with Anne Alstott, of The Public Option (Harvard Univ. Press, 2019), and the author of The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017), which was one of The New York Times’ 100 notable books of 2017, and The Counterinsurgent’s Constitution: Law in the Age of Small Wars (Oxford University Press, 2012), which won the 2013 Palmer Civil Liberties Prize.
Sitaraman is a public member of the Administrative Conference of the United States, a member of the American Law Institute, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a co-founder of the Great Democracy Initiative. He serves on the boards of The American Prospect, the American Constitution Society, and Foreign Policy for America. Sitaraman was also a longtime adviser to Elizabeth Warren, including serving as a senior adviser on her 2020 presidential campaign, her senior counsel in the Senate, and her policy director during her 2012 Senate campaign. He has been profiled in The New York Times and Politico for his work at the nexus of politics and ideas.
In 2018, Sitaraman was awarded an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, and at Vanderbilt, he has been awarded a Chancellor’s Award for Research and a Chancellor’s Faculty Fellowship. In 2016, he was a visiting assistant professor at Yale Law School. Before joining Vanderbilt, Sitaraman was the Public Law Fellow and a lecturer at Harvard Law School, a research fellow at the Counterinsurgency Training Center – Afghanistan in Kabul, and a law clerk for Judge Stephen F. Williams on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Areas of Expertise (10)
Foreign Relations Law
Harvard Law School: J.D., Magna Cum Laude, Law 2008
Harry S. Truman Scholar
University of Cambridge: M.Phil., Law 2005
Lionel de Jersey Harvard Scholar
Harvard College: A.B., Magna Cum Laude 2004
Charles Joseph Bonaparte Prize Phi Beta Kappa Detur Book Prize John Harvard Scholarship
- The American Prospect
- Massachusetts Bar
- American Constitution Society for Law and Policy
- Council on Foreign Relations
Selected Media Appearances (9)
Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator for Political Economy and Regulation
Ganesh Sitaraman will lead the newly launched Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator for Political Economy and Regulation at Vanderbilt University. Sitaraman is currently the New York alumni chancellor’s chair at Vanderbilt Law School and is an Elizabeth Warren alum.
Biden aims billions in taxpayer money at companies' labor, supply practices
Every president puts his stamp on how federal money is spent, but Biden was using a broader range of tools, including tax changes, implementation of new legislation and stepped-up anti-trust enforcement to affect change, said Ganesh Sitaraman, who heads a new political economy initiative at Vanderbilt University. "What Biden and his advisers are doing is solving problems that exist in the economy. They are pushing forward an agenda aimed at building things in America again ... and taking on corporate power," he said.
How to protect America from the next economic calamity
America has a long way to go when it comes to economic resilience. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been shortages of critical protective equipment, ventilators and tests, and supplies often haven’t come online fast enough to meet communities’ urgent needs. Authorities worry about how fast supply chains and distribution networks will be able to make an eventual vaccine widely available.
What Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Marco Rubio Agree On
New York Times online
More ambitiously, Timothy Meyer and Ganesh Sitaraman of Vanderbilt Law School have proposed a large-scale reorganization of federal agencies, bringing domestic development, trade and export promotion under one Department of Economic Growth and Security, which would focus on both domestic economic policy and international competition. Ms. Warren has embraced a version of this idea. Similarly, Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan, has called for the creation of a National Institute of Manufacturing, taking inspiration from the National Institutes of Health. As America falls behind in key technologies, we may also have to use defense procurement, along with other carrots and sticks, to mobilize companies to compete in strategic sectors, such as 5G. America has a long and successful history of employing this sort of robust industrial policy.
When Millions Can’t Afford to Retire, the U.S. Needs a Better Option
The Atlantic online
According to a recent Associated Press survey, almost a quarter of Americans say they plan to never retire, and it isn’t because they all love their jobs. The United States faces a retirement crisis. Workers have been forced to assume more and more financial risk, and as a result, many won’t have enough to live with dignity when old age arrives. Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research projects that half of workers will reach retirement with too little savings to fund it. When tens of millions of Americans all have the same problem of setting aside too little money for retirement, it’s not a failure of individual initiative. It’s a sign of a structural problem—one that can’t be solved by scolding people to save more.
There Should Be a Public Option for Everything
New York Times online
The struggle between capitalism and socialism is back. “America will never be a socialist country,” President Trump tells us, even as Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez champion democratic socialism. At the same time, a consensus is growing — from Ray Dalio, the billionaire hedge fund manager, to Joseph Stiglitz, the economist and Nobel winner — that capitalism needs major reforms if it is going to survive. Perhaps surprisingly, given the trend toward the privatization of public services over the last generation, American history offers a way forward: the public option.
What should a left foreign policy look like? An Elizabeth Warren adviser offers his vision.
So I think a progressive foreign policy has to start by looking at political economy, the integration of politics and economics, and it has to be attuned to and very concerned about economic power. That is one of the defining themes of progressives in domestic politics; in the foreign policy context, I think this is partly why the new progressive foreign policy breaks down barriers between domestic policy and foreign policy and between economic policy and foreign policy.
Is Elizabeth Warren's college plan really progressive? Yes
The Guardian online
Last week, a number of commentators and think tank analysts pounced on Senator Elizabeth Warren’s plan to cancel student debt for 95 percent of Americans, provide universal free college at public schools, increase Pell Grants, end federal support of for-profit colleges, and invest heavily in historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Their criticism: the plan isn’t “progressive” because middle class and upper middle-class people benefit from it.
We need constitutional reform — starting with the electoral college
Washington Post online
“When Americans have confronted major political, economic and social crises throughout our history, we have debated — and adopted — constitutional changes to address them,” said Ganesh Sitaraman, a law professor at Vanderbilt University. “Many of the recent proposals for constitutional reforms are in line with this tradition.”
Selected Articles (3)
Countering Nationalist OligarchyDemocracy: A Journal of ideas
2019 "The challenge we face today is not one of authoritarianism, as so many seem inclined to believe, but of nationalist oligarchy."
Trade and the Separation of PowersCalifornia Law Review
Ganesh Sitaraman and Thimothy Meyer
2019 "There are two paradigms through which to view trade law and policy within the American constitutional system. One paradigm sees trade law and policy as quintessentially about domestic economic policy."
Taking Antitrust Away from the CourtsElsevier
2018 "A small number of firms hold significant market power in a wide variety of sectors of the economy, leading commentators across the political spectrum to call for a reinvigoration of antitrust enforcement."