Paul Chen

Paul Chen

Associate Professor

M.A., Ph.D., Political Science, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

M.A., Inter-cultural Studies, Biola University, La Mirada, CA

J.D., Southwestern University School of Law, Los Angeles, CA

B.A., English, University of California, Berkeley, CA

(360) 650-4876

AH 436

WR 2:00-3:00 pm and by appointment

Current Courses

Winter 2019

PLSC 250: The American Political System

PLSC 311: Introduction to Law and the Legal System


Spring 2019

PLSC 250: The American Political System

PLSC 313: Law, Courts, Politics, Society: Non-Legal Perspectives of Law

Professor Chen teaches courses on the U.S. legal system (PLSC 311), the relationship between law, courts, politics, and society (PLSC 313), the U.S. Supreme Court (PLSC 314), American constitutional law (PLSC 414/415), and legal philosophy (PLSC 467).  He also serves as one of two Law School Admissions Council-designated pre-law advisors at WWU.

He has published articles on Supreme Court decision-making, interest group litigation, and U.S. constitutional federalism, his main area of expertise, which he sums up as “the right to be different.”  His current research interests include integrating the political thought of Dutch-Calvinist Abraham Kuyper into contemporary public policy, examining theological bases for pluralism, and probing how exclusion is integral to pluralism and toleration.

Professor Chen is the grateful beneficiary of a “liberal education.”  After receiving a BA in English in 1990, he then completed degrees in law (JD), inter-cultural studies (MA), and political science (PhD) before coming to Western Washington University in 2002.  His long, meandering educational journey (which he advises students not to follow) included, besides studying his degree-related subjects, graduate coursework in sociology, anthropology, philosophy, ethics, and theology.  “You don’t need an education to know how to choose between good and bad,” he tells students.  “What education does, is help you know how to choose between good—and another good.”

Born in Taiwan, Professor Chen is fluent in conversational Mandarin.  He lives with his wife and son just outside the Bellingham city limits.  One of his favorite pastimes is watching movies, especially thought-provoking ones.  He sums up his worldview in three words: “EVERYTHING is connected.”

Selected Publications


  • "Rethinking the Constitution-Treaty Relationship" (co-authored with Remy Z. Levin), International Journal of Constitutional Law 10:242-260 (2012)
  • "Medical Marijuana Policy and the Virtues of Federalism" (co-authored with J. Mitchell Pickerill), Publius: The Journal of Federalism 38(1): 22-56 (2008)
  • "The Informational Role of Amici Curiae Briefs in Gonzales v. Raich," Southern Illinois University Law Journal 31(2): 217-241 (2007)
  • "The Institutional Sources of State Success in Federalism Litigation before the Supreme Court,"Law and Policy 25(4): 455-472 (2003)

Book Chapters

  • "Federalism and Rights: A Neglected Relationship" in Neil C. McCabe, ed., Comparative Federalism in the Devolution Era (Lexington Books, 2002), pp. 392-425.

Areas of Specialty

Research Interests

  • Consitutional Federalism
  • Law and Religion/Theology
  • Law Courts Politics & Society
  • The Supreme Court
  • U.S. Constitutional Law

PDF icon Curriculum Vitae (174.71 KB)