Rob Natelson explores the U S Constitution

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Posted by Andrew Nappi, Florida TAC State Coordinator

Professor Natelson shares a wealth of information and education in this ten minute video. The attached written article by Reporter Michael Moorefirst appeared at on 1/25/2010
UM law professor Rob Natelson leaving for Colo.-based think tank
The way Rob Natelson sees it, his new job will be much like his old job, minus a captive audience.

“I guess my audience will be volunteers now, but otherwise, I see myself continuing to teach, continuing to do research and continuing to take part in the public conversation,” Natelson said Monday as news leaked of his pending departure, which comes at the end of this academic year.

Natelson, a University of Montana law professor since 1987, is leaving to take a position at the Independence Institute, a Colorado-based think tank that promotes free-market solutions to public policy issues. He has connections to Colorado, where he practiced law for about 10 years before turning to academia.

Natelson, who twice ran for governor of Montana and was very active in conservative politics for nearly two decades, has been affiliated with the Independence Institute since 1994.

“I did a study for them back then regarding some constitutional initiatives that were pending, and they published that study,” Natelson said.

In 1998, Natelson became a senior fellow with the institute and was more recently elevated to senior fellow in constitutional jurisprudence.

Jon Caldara, director of the institute, said Natelson’s first project will be an analysis of U.S. Supreme Court cases over the years.

“Rob’s being doing terrific work on legal issues for us for more than a decade,” Caldara said.

Natelson, a scholar of the U.S. Constitution, was a sometimes-polarizing figure at the UM law school, going to battle with colleagues over his effort to teach constitutional law at the school in 2004.

A hearings officer assigned to the case ruled that Natelson had been unfairly denied the opportunity by the department, and he went on to teach the subject in the following years.

Natelson was active in conservative politics across Montana for nearly 20 years, and twice failed in the Republican primary for governor. Still, he counts his entry into politics as one of his enduring memories of Montana.

“I didn’t run for office until I was 46, which is later than most, but that was a tremendously enriching experience for me,” Natelson said. “Getting to know people across the state was very rewarding, and there’s no question that the work that we and others did had an impact on the state.”

Natelson said the chance to finally teach constitutional law was also a high point.

“I’ve been building a national reputation in that area for a time now, so being able to teach constitutional law at UM was very rewarding,” he said.

That branch of the law will be Natelson’s focus as he moves to Colorado.

“Right now, public interest in the constitution is very high, so I imagine I will spend a lot of my time as a sort of public resource,” Natelson said. “It really is a pretty similar job.”

Thirty years ago, Natelson was just getting his law practice started in Colorado when a man named Michael Rosen walked into his office.

“He was looking to start a new free market institute in Colorado,” Natelson recalled. “I was just getting started, so I didn’t have any money to give him. But the institute he was trying to start is the same one I’ll be working for. It’s funny how life turns.”

Reporter Michael Moore can be reached at 523-5252 or at

Andrew Nappi is the State Coordinator for the Florida Tenth Amendment Center. He lives in the Tampa Bay Area with wife Tammy and dogs Emma and Bud Lite.

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