Chip Lupu

Dr. Chip Lupu

Faculty: Emeriti

F. Elwood & Eleanor David Professor of Law

Professor Chip Lupu was born and raised in Albany, New York and attended Cornell University on a region scholarship program, majoring in government and expressing an early interest in law and politics.  Upon graduation, Professor Lupu attended Harvard Law School.  “When I got to Harvard Law School,” Professor Lupu remarks, “I felt like I’d been given this huge gift.  And I found law quite congenial.  I just liked studying law, and I found out that I was good at it.”  Indeed, Lupu proved this aptitude, making Harvard Law Review and eventually serving as Editor.  However, he professed less interest in practicing law and instead sought out teaching positions in the Boston area.

From 1973 to 1988, Professor Lupu taught constitutional law at Boston University.  “I’ve taught many, many things.  I’m very versatile, and some of it is versatility and some of it is doing something new.  I have taught administrative law, family law, a special course on religion in the Constitution, federal courts, legal process, sex discrimination in the law, law of democracy.  Some of it is constitutional law and some of it is other parts of the subject. I’ve always really valued the opportunity to teach something new.  You learn things when you teach something new that you don’t learn at the same rate when you teach something for the twenty-fifth time.” 

In 1990, Professor Lupu came to the George Washington University as a Professor of Law.  The move to Washington, DC appealed to Lupu immediately as an ideal place to practice and teach law.  His primary research interests center on religion and the Constitution, an interest that began in the mid 1980s. “I could see, sense, smell, feel, intuit that things were going to change on the subject of religion and the Constitution.  The subject had gotten into awkward spots; there were new members of the Court, and the rise of the evangelical movement was going to put pressure on various parts of that subject.  I could see all of that, and, at the time, the existing scholarship in the field was relatively thin. I saw an opening.” 

Within five years, Lupu published a number of seminal pieces on the subject, becoming a major figure in the field of religion and the Constitution.  Moreover, after co-authoring an article with Professor Robert Tuttle, a Professor of Law and Religion at the George Washington Law School and Lupu’s former student, Lupu and Tuttle were approached by the Pew Charitable Trusts to study and monitor George W. Bush’s faith-based initiatives and their political and legal consequences.  According to Lupu, “it was too good to pass up.”  This led to Lupu’s greater presence in the press, forging connections with journalists at National Public Radio and the Washington Post

One of Professor Lupu’s most significant research contributions includes his work on faith-based initiatives with Professor Tuttle.  “I think we enriched the conversation; we got people off the sound bites,” he explains.  Indeed, his publications and research run the gamut, ranging from same sex family equality and religious freedom, government partnerships with faith-based organizations, military chaplaincy and the Constitution, and other works on religion and the Constitution.  Yet, his greatest contribution lays in his ability to act as a mediator in the field.  Professor Lupu remarks, “I’m situated in the field in way that scholars and lawyers and practitioners and activists on both sides feel some sense of comfort in talking to me.  And that suits me temperamentally as well as professionally.”


A.B., Government, Cornell University, 1968
J.D., Harvard University, 1971, magna cum laude