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Professor David Kenny
Professor In, Law


Professor David Kenny is Professor in Law at the Law School, teaching Irish and comparative constitutional law, conflict of laws, critical legal theory and law and literature. He is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Harvard Law School, and the Honourable Society of the King's Inns, and is an alumnus of the US State Department's Fulbright programme. He was elected a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin in 2021. From June 2024, he will serve as Head of the Law School.

Professor Kenny's research specialises in Irish and comparative constitutional law. He is co-author of the 5th edition of Kelly: the Irish Constitution, the leading text on Irish Constitutional Law, as well as many peer-reviewed articles in leading national and international journals on topics such as proportionality, constitutional culture, referendums, and executive branch legal advisors, and the constitutional implications of Brexit for Ireland. He also researches widely in the field of law and literature. He has recently completed a book drawing together law, literature, and philosophical pragmatism entitled 'Pragmatism, Law and Literature', to be published by Routledge in summer 2024.

Professor Kenny has given expert evidence on constitutional issues to the Citizen's Assembly, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Defence, and the Oireachtas Special Covid-19 Committee. He was a member of the Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland which reported in 2021, convened by the Constitution Unit of University College London and supported by funding from the British Academy and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. He was a co-ordinator of NSLMap, a recently-concluded project funded by the Shared Island Unit and Irish Research Council to map the convergences and divergences in various areas of law between Ireland and Northern Ireland. He served as coordinator of the State Governance section of the Trinity College Dublin Covid-19 Legal Observatory and co-authored a major report on the human rights impact of COVID-19 response measures for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in 2021. He also, from 2020-2023, worked with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to develop a policy on constitutional change in respect of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. He is current a member of the Research Advisory Group of An Coimisiún Toghcháin/The Electoral Commission.

He served as a facilitator for the Northern Ireland Assembly Ad Hoc Committee on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. He also worked with the Centre of Constitutional Democracy at IU Bloomington and the US National Committee on North Korea in 2021 to compile a report on constitutionalism on the Korean Peninsula. He has advised the Commission on the Constitution of the National Diet of Japan about matters related to referendums. In August 2023 served as a human rights/rule of law consultant and training expert for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Ukraine. In 2024, he served as an external expert for the appointments process for the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, setting written competence assessments in constitutional law for candidates being considered for appointment to the Court.

He currently serves as a Senior Distinguished Research Fellow at the Constitution Studies Program at the University of Texas at Austin, and as a Senior Fellow at Melbourne Law School.

Professor Kenny teaches Constitutional Law; Critical Perspectives on Law; Conflict of Laws; Law and Literature; and judging in Apex Courts, co-taught with the former Chief Justice of Ireland. He was a recipient of the Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2015.

Professor Kenny regularly contributes to media discussion of constitutional issues and is open to media queries on matters of Irish or international constitutional law.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Religion and Law in Ireland and Northern Ireland in, editor(s)Andrew Holmes and Gladys Ganiel , Oxford Handbook of Religion in Modern Ireland, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2024, pp369 - 414, [Christopher McCrudden, Oran Doyle, and David Kenny] Book Chapter, 2024

David Kenny, Reencountering texts: James Boyd White, legal reading, and bringing back the human, Yale Journal of Law and Humanities (FORTHCOMING), 2024 Journal Article, 2024

David Kenny, Pragmatism, Law, and Literature (FORTHCOMING), Routledge, 2024 Book, 2024

The 1922 Constitution as a failed attempt to break from the Westminster tradition in, editor(s)Laura Cahillane and Donal Coffey , The Centenary of the Irish Free State Constitution: Constituting a Polity, Palgrave, 2024, pp175 - 196, [David Kenny] Book Chapter, 2024

David Kenny and Conor Casey, How liberty dies in a galaxy far, far away: Star Wars, democratic decay, and weak executives, Law and Literature, 35, (2), 2023, p221 - 246 Journal Article, 2023

Ireland in, editor(s)Jaakko Husa, Jan Smits, Catherine Valcke , Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Edward Elgar, 2023, pp293 - 299, [David Kenny] Book Chapter, 2023

David Kenny, Review of Law and Religion in Ireland, 1700-1970, by Niamh Howlin and Kevin Costello , Journal of Church and State, 2023 Review, 2023

David Kenny, Maria Kotsoni, Lauryn Musgrove McCann, Social rights, culture, crisis, and austerity: the strange case of Ireland, Irish Jurist (), 70, 2023, p131 - 155 Journal Article, 2023

Conor Casey and David Kenny, The Risk and Rewards of Ireland's Leviathan: Rule of Law Values and the Irish Executive's Crisis Response to COVID-19, Irish Jurist, 70, 2023, p242 - 267 Journal Article, 2023

Laura Cahillane and David Kenny, The Seamus Woulfe controversy and the deficiencies in Ireland's judicial appointments process, Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 74, (2), 2023, p22 - 49 Journal Article, 2023

The Game Goes On: Why Legal Theorists Can Never Admit that Stanley Fish is Right in, editor(s)Thomas Bustamante and Margaret Martin , New Essays on the Fish-Dworkin Debate, Hart Publishling, 2023, pp75 - 95, [David Kenny] Book Chapter, 2023

Conor Casey and David Kenny, The Gatekeepers: Executive Lawyers and the Executive Power in Comparative Constitutional Law, International Journal of Constitutional Law (ICON), 20, (2), 2022, p664 - 695 Journal Article, 2022

David Kenny, Examining Constitutional Culture: Assisted Suicide In Ireland And Canada, Journal of Comparative Law, 17, (1), 2022, p85 - 115 Journal Article, 2022

David Kenny and Lauryn Musgrove McCann, Directive Principles, Political Constitutionalism, and Constitutional Culture: the case of Ireland's failed Directive Principles of Social Policy, European Constitutional Law Review, 18, 2022, p207 - 236 Journal Article, 2022

Jurisdiction, Choice of law, and enforcement of judgments in, editor(s)Christopher McCrudden , The Law and Practice of the Northern Ireland Protocol, Cambridge , Cambridge University Press, 2022, pp296 - 307, [David Kenny] Book Chapter, 2022

Laura Cahillane and David Kenny, Lessons from Ireland's 2020 Judicial Conduct Controversy., Common Law World Review, 51, (1-2), 2022, p24 - 24 Journal Article, 2022

Are the people the masters? Constitutional Referendums in Ireland in, editor(s)Richard Albert and Richard Stacey , The Legality and Legitimacy of Referendums., Oxford University Press, 2022, pp264 - 292, [David Kenny and Aileen Kavanagh] Book Chapter, 2022

David Kenny, TD V MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, CONSTITUTIONAL CULTURE, AND CONSTITUTIONAL DARK MATTER, Irish Judicial Studies Journal , 6, (3), 2022, p39 - 46 Journal Article, 2022

David Kenny, The Human Pared Away: Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell as an Archetype of Legal Pragmatism , Law and Literature, 43, (1), 2022, p109 - 139 Journal Article, 2022

Interpretation in law and literature in, editor(s)Adam Hanna and Eugene McNulty , Law and Literature: The Irish Case, Manchester University Press, 2022, pp21 - 44, [Tom Hickey and David Kenny ] Book Chapter, 2022

Sovereignty and Federalism in, editor(s)Guerino D'Ignazio , The Constitutional System of the United States of America , Wolters Kluwer, 2022, pp133 - 153, [David Kenny and Andrea Pin] Book Chapter, 2022

Conor Casey and David Kenny, Ireland-COVID-19 response raises some rule of law concerns, Public Law, April, 2021, p480 - 483 Journal Article, 2021

David Kenny and Conor Casey, The Resilience of Executive Dominance in Westminster Systems: Ireland 2016-2019, Public Law , (April), 2021, p335 - 374 Journal Article, 2021

The Risks of Referendums: "Referendum culture" in Ireland as a solution? in, editor(s)Maria Cahill, Colm Ó Cinnéide, Conor O'Mahony, Sean Ó Conaill , Constitutional Change and Popular Sovereignty in Ireland , Routledge, 2021, pp198 - 223, [David Kenny] Book Chapter, 2021

Conor Casey, Oran Doyle, and David Kenny, The Irish State's COVID-19 Response and the Rule of Law: Causes for Concern, Studies, 440, (Winter ), 2021, p446 - 457 Journal Article, 2021

How our courts decide: the Decision-making Processes of Supreme Administrative Courts in, editor(s)ACA-Europe , Supreme Administrative Courts' Jurisprudence in Europe, Germany, GH Beck, 2021, pp43-87 - [Mr Justice Frank Clarke, David Kenny, Aine Ryall] Book Chapter, 2021

Ireland in, editor(s)Luís Roberto Barroso and Richard Albert , The 2020 International Review of Constitutional Reform, Texas, Program on Constitutional Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, 2021, pp153 - 157, [Conor Casey and David Kenny] Book Chapter, 2021

The Constitutional Politics of a United Ireland in, editor(s)Oran Doyle, Aileen McHarg, Jo Murkins , Constitutions Under Pressure: The Brexit Challenge for Ireland and the UK, Cambridge University Press, 2021, pp129 - 152, [Oran Doyle, David Kenny, Christopher McCrudden] Book Chapter, 2021 TARA - Full Text

David Kenny, 'Love mounts to the throne with law': Citizenship in Northern Ireland and Seamus Heaney's Antigone, Law and Humanities, 15, (2), 2021, p195 - 218 Journal Article, 2021

Oran Doyle, David Kenny, Christopher McCrudden, The Franchise in Irish Unification Referendums, Irish Studies in International Affairs, 32, (2), 2021, p182 - 213 Journal Article, 2021

Alan Renwick, Oran Doyle, John Garry, Paul Gillespie, Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Katy Hayward, Robert Hazell, David Kenny, Christopher McCrudden, Brendan O'Leary, Etain Tannam, Alan Whysall , Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland: Final Report, Constitution Unit, University College London, May, 2021, p1 - 259 Report, 2021

Sovranità e Federalismo (Sovereignty and Federalism) in, editor(s)Guerino D'Ignazio , Il Sistema Costituzionale delgi Stati Uniti d'America (The Constitutional System of the United States of America) , Wolters Kluwer, 2020, pp175 - 202, [David Kenny and Andrea Pin] Book Chapter, 2020

David Kenny, Review of The Triangular Constitution by Tom Flynn , Common Law World Review, 49, (1), 2020, p92-106 Review, 2020

David Kenny and Conor Casey, A One Person Supreme Court? The Attorney General, constitutional advice to government, and the case for transparency, Dublin University Law Journal , 42, (1), 2020, p90 - 118 Journal Article, 2020

David Kenny and Conor Casey, Shadow Constitutional Review: The Dark Side of Pre-Enactment Political Review in Ireland and Japan, International Journal of Constitutional Law (ICON), 18, (1), 2020, p51 - 77 Journal Article, 2020

David Kenny, The virtues of unprincipled constitutional compromises: Church and State in the Irish Constitution, European Constitutional Law Review, 16, (3), 2020, p417 - 439 Journal Article, 2020

David Kenny, Criminal Assets Bureau v Murphy - just the exclusionary rule in a civil context, or a new approach to unconstitutionality in the criminal process?, Irish Supreme Court Review , 1, (1), 2019, p187 - 204 Journal Article, 2019

The Failed Referendum to Abolish the Ireland's Senate: Rejecting Unicameralism in a Small and Relatively Homogenous Country in, editor(s)Richard Albert, Antonia Baraggia, Cristina Fasone , Constitutional Reform of National Legislatures Bicameralism under Pressure, Edward Elgar, 2019, pp163 - 182, [David Kenny] Book Chapter, 2019

Ireland in, editor(s)Carsten Gerner-Beuerle, Federico M Mucciarelli, Edmund Schuster and Mathias Sims , The Private International Law of Companies in the European Union, Munich, CH Beck, 2019, pp461 - 488, [Blanaid Clarke and David Kenny] Book Chapter, 2019

Richard Albert and David Kenny , The challenges of constitutional silence: Doctrine, theory, and applications, International Journal of Constitutional Law (ICON), 2018, p880 - 886 Journal Article, 2018

David Kenny, Proportionality and the Inevitability of the Local: a comparative localist analysis of Canada and Ireland, American Journal of Comparative Law, 66, (3), 2018, p537 - 578 Journal Article, 2018

GW Hogan, GF Whyte, D Kenny, R Walsh, Kelly: The Irish Constitution, Fifth edition, Dublin, Bloomsbury Professional, 2018, 1 - 2765pp Book, 2018

David Kenny, Abortion, The Irish Constitution, and Constitutional Change, Revista de Investigações Constitucionais / Brazilian Journal of Constitutional Research , 5, (3), 2018, p257 - 275 Journal Article, 2018

David Kenny and Liz Heffernan, Peer Observation of Teaching, Dublin University Law Journal, 2017, p205 - 216 Journal Article, 2017

Constitutional Change and Interest Group Politics: Ireland's Children's Rights Amendment in, editor(s)Richard Albert, Xenophon Contiades, Alkmene Fotiadou , The Foundations and Tradition of Constitutional Amendment, Hart Publishing, 2017, pp199 - 218, [Oran Doyle and David Kenny] Book Chapter, 2017 TARA - Full Text

David Kenny, - "Always, inevitably local: Ireland's strange populism and the trouble with theory", Jean Monnet Paper Series ; , Populism and Public Law , NYU Law School, September 2017, edited by Grainne de Burca and Joseph Weiler , (7), NYU, 2017 Conference Paper, 2017

Merit, Diversity, And Interpretive Communities: The (Non-Party) Politics Of Judicial Appointments And Constitutional Adjudication in, editor(s)Laura Cahillane, Tom Hickey, James Gallen , Politics, Judges, and the Irish Constitution, Manchester University Press, 2017, pp136 - 149, [David Kenny] Book Chapter, 2017

Choice-of-Court Agreements, the Italian Torpedo, and the Recast of the Brussels I Regulation (republication) in, editor(s)Wendy Collins Perdue , Procedure and Private International Law, Edward Elgar, 2017, pp197 - 209, [David Kenny and Rosemary Hennigan] Book Chapter, 2017

David Kenny, Remedial Innovation, Constitutional Culture, and the Supreme Court at a Crossroads, Dublin University Law Journal, 40(2), 2017, p85 - 106 Journal Article, 2017

David Kenny, Politics all the way down: originalism as rhetoric, Diritto pubblico comparato ed europeo (DPCE) Online, 31, (3), 2017, p661 - 667 Journal Article, 2017

David Kenny and Rosemary Hennigan, Choice of Court Agreements, the Italian Torpedo, and the Recast of the Brussels I Regulation: a possible snag, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 64, (1), 2015, p197 - 209 Journal Article, 2015

Gerard Hogan, David Kenny and Rachael Walsh, An Anthology of Unconstitutionality, Irish Jurist, (54), 2015, p1 - 30 Journal Article, 2015

David Kenny, Conventions in Judicial Decisionmaking: Epistemology and the Limits of Critical Self Consciousness, Dublin University Law Journal, 38, (2), 2015, p432 - 441 Journal Article, 2015

David Kenny, A Review of Neil Walker's "Intimation of Global Law", by Neil Walker , American Journal of Comparative Law, 2015, p1053-1060 Review, 2015

Defamation and Privacy and the Rome II Regulation in, editor(s)Peter Stone and Youseph Farah , Research Handbook on the Conflict of Laws, Elgar, 2015, pp315 - 343, [David Kenny and Liz Heffernan] Book Chapter, 2015

David Kenny, Re Flightlease: The 'Real And Substantial Connection' Test For Recognition And Enforcement Of Foreign Judgments Fails To Take Flight In Ireland, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 63, (1), 2014, p197 - 212 Journal Article, 2014

David Kenny, Proportionality, the Burden of Proof, and Some Signs of Reconsideration, Irish Jurist, 52, 2014, p141 - 152 Journal Article, 2014

David Kenny, Grounding Constitutional Remedies in Reality: the Case for As-Applied Constitutional Challenges in Ireland, Dublin University Law Journal, 35, 2014, p53 - 77 Journal Article, 2014

David Kenny, Recent Developments in the Right of the Person in Article 40.3: Fleming v Ireland and the Spectre of Unenumerated Rights, Dublin University Law Journal, 2013, (36), 2013, p322 - 341 Journal Article, 2013

The Separation of Powers and Remedies: The Legislative Power and Remedies for Unconstitutional Legislation in Comparative Perspective in, editor(s)Eoin Carolan , The Constitution of Ireland: Perspectives and Prospects, Dublin, Bloomsbury Professional, 2012, pp191 - 216, [David Kenny] Book Chapter, 2012

David Kenny, Fair Procedures in Irish Administrative Law: Towards a Constitutional Duty to Act Fairly in Dellway Investments v NAMA, Dublin University Law Journal, 34, 2011, p47 - 73 Journal Article, 2011

David Kenny, A Dormant Doctrine of Overbreadth: Abstract Review and Ius Tertii in Irish Proportionality Analysis, Dublin University Law Journal, 32, 2010, p25 - 50 Journal Article, 2010

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Alan Eustace and David Kenny, Collective Bargaining and The Irish Constitution"Barrier or Facilitator?, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, December, 2023, p1 - 33 Report, 2023

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, written by David Kenny, The Incorporation of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights into the Irish Constitution, Oxford, February , 2023 Report, 2023

Oran Doyle, David Kenny, Christopher McCrudden, Fionnula Ní Aoláin, Legal Convergence and Divergence on the Island of Ireland: Report of the North-South Legal Mapping Projectto the Shared Island Unit, Oxford, Irish Research Council/Shared Island Unite, September, 2022, p1 - 19 Report, 2022

David Kenny, Conor Casey, Andrea Mulligan, Public Health Law During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ireland, Chapter 1: Public Health Governance: The Role of NPHET , Dublin, COVID 19 Law and Human Rights Observatory, 2021, p11 - 28 Report, 2021

National Committee on North Korea, Constitutional Design in North and South Korea, May, 2021, p1 - 18 Report, 2021

Conor Casey, Oran Doyle, David Kenny, Donna Lyons, Ireland's Emergency Powers During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Dublin, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission , February, 2021, p1 - 104 Report, 2021

David Kenny, Technical Report for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission-Protecting Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Irish Legal Order, August, 2020, 1-40 Report, 2020

Renwick, Whysall et al, Interim Report of Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland , Oxford, Constitution Unit, UCL, October , 2020 Report, 2020

David Kenny and Eoin Daly, Report on the Constitutional Limits of the "Money Message" Procedure under Article 17.2 of the Constitution of Ireland, May, 2019, 1-20 Report, 2019

Frank Clarke, David Kenny, Aine Ryall, How Courts Decide: adjudicative process of Supreme Administrative Courts, ACA (association of Supreme Administrative Courts) Europe, 2019 Report, 2019

David Kenny and Rosemary Hennigan, In Two Minds: Atticus Finch and the Limits of Law, Dublin Review of Books, (5), 2016 Review Article, 2016

David Kenny, Goshawk Dedicated Ltd v Life Receivables Ireland Ltd - Jurisdiction, Lis Alibi Pendens and Problematic Use of the Brussels Regime, Trinity College Law Review, 12, 2009, p1- Journal Article, 2009

Research Expertise


Comparative Constitutional Law; Conflict of Laws; Constitutional Law; Irish Politics; Referendums


Awards and Honours

Elected Fellow of Trinity College Dublin 2021

Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching 2015

Ussher Fellowship, Trinity College Dublin 2009-2012

Fulbright Scholar 2008-2009


Board Member and Supervising Lawyer, Irish Innocence Project 2014 – 2020