John R. Vile, Ph.D.

Dean and Professor of Political Science

Vile photoDr. Vile is a graduate of the College of William and Mary who earned his Ph.D. in Government from the University of Virginia and attended seminars sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities at Princeton and the University of Iowa. He has served as Chair of the Department of Social Sciences at McNeese State University, as Chair of the Department of Political Science at MTSU, and (since 2008) as Dean of the University Honors College. Vile is a scholar of the U.S. constitutional amending process who has written and edited numerous books, essays, chapters, and reviews on this and related topics. He received the MTSU Foundation Distinguished Research Award in both 1993 and 1999 and the Career Achievement Award in 2011. The American Mock Trial Association awarded him the Congressman Neal Smith Award in 2000 for outstanding contributions to legal education and named him to the Coaches Hall of Fame in 2008. Dr. Vile is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Phi Kappa Phi.

Curriculum Vita  |  Courses  |  Publications |  Activities  |  Email

Courses Taught

PS 2010: Introduction to American Government and Politics
PS 2100: Courtroom Procedures
PS 3370: American Constitutional Law
PS 3370H: American Constitutional Law, Honors
PS 3380: American Constitutional Law
PS 3380H: American Constitutional Law, Honors


Other works may be found here:

Ratification Book Civil Rights and Liberties Institutions Politics and ProcessEncy4th  Companion EssentialSupremeCourtDecisions17th Edition  Pleasing the Court James Madison Eisenhower  Civil Liberties On Common Ground Great American Judges Winners and Losers Great American Lawyers Tennessee Government and Politics ConstitutonQuestionsAnswered Constitutional Change in the US Constitutional Change First AmendmentEncyclopedia fourth amendmentContemporary Questions Constitutional American Process Rewriting the US Constitution ProposedAmendmentsAmerican Legal Systemlatest book cover Re-FramersSixth EditionWisest CouncilOne Document Many ChoicesFounding DocumentsConventional WisdomThe Early RepublicVileBookCoverAmerican Immigration and CitizenshipThe JacksonianConstitutional LawCivil War BookAmericanFlagEncyclopediaNatural DisastersCivil LibertiesDeclaration of IndependenceBenjamin RushMore than a PleaLiberty Bell


  • The Liberty Bell and Its Legacy:  An Encyclopedia of an American Icon in U.S. History and Culture.  (Santa Barbara, CA:  ABC-CLIO, 2020)
  • More than a Plea for a Declaration of Rights:  The Constitutional and Political Thought of George Mason of Virginia.  (The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd, 2019)
  • A Constellation of Great Men:  Exploring the Character Sketches of Dr. Benjamin Rush of Pennsylvania of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, (Clark, NJ:  Talbot Publishing, 2019)
  • The Declaration of Independence: America's First Founding Document in U.S. History and Culture, (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2019)
  • The American Flag:  An Encyclopedia of the Stars and Stripes in U.S. History, Culture, and Law, (Santa Barbara, CA:  ABC CLIO, 2018)

  • Governmental Responses to Natural Disasters in the U.S.: A Documentary History (Clark, NJ: Talbot Publishing, an imprint of the Lawbook Exchange: 2018)

  • Essential Supreme Court Decisions: Summaries of Leading Cases in U.S. Constitutional Law, 17th Edition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018)
  • Constitutional Law, (West Academic Publishing, 2017)
  • American Immigration and Citizenship: A Documentary History, (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2016)
  • The Constitutional Convention of 1787: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of America's Founding, Revised Second Edition, (Talbot Publishing, 2016).
  • The Early Republic: Documents Decoded, (Santa Barbara, CA., ABC-CLIO, 2016)
  • Conventional Wisdom: The Alternate Article V Mechanism for Proposing Amendments to the U.S. Constitution (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2016)
  • Founding Documents of America: Documents Decoded (Stanta Barbara, AC: ABC-CLIO, 2016), 356 pp.
  • The United States Constitution: One Document, Many Choices (Palgrave/McMillan, 2015)
  • The Wisest Council in the World: Restoring the Character Sketches by William Pierce of Georgia of the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 (UGA Press, 2015)
  • Men Who Made the Constitution: Lives of the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 (Scarecrow Press, 2013).
  • Re-Framers: 170 Eccentric, Visionary, and Patriotic Proposals to Rewrite the U.S. Constitution (ABC-CLIO, 2014)
  • Essential Supreme Court Decisions: Summaries of Leading Cases in U.S. Constitutional Law, 16th Edition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014)
  • Encyclopedia of the Fourth Amendment, coauthored with David L. Hudson, Jr. (Sage, 2013)
  • The Writing and Ratification of the U.S. Constitution: Practical Virtue in Action, (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012)
  • Proposed Amendments to the U.S. Constitution 1787-2001, 4 vols., ed., (Law Book Exchange, 2011)
  • Constitutional Law in Contemporary America, with David Schultz and Michelle Deardorff
       Vol II: Civil Rights and Liberties (Oxford 2011)
  • Constitutional Law in Contemporary America, with David Schultz and Michelle Deardorff
       Vol I: Institutions, Politics, and Process (Oxford 2011)
  • Encyclopedia of Constitutional Amendments, Proposed Amendments, and Amending Issues, 1789-2015 (ABC-CLIO, 1996), 2nd edition 2003, 3rd edition 2010. 4th edition 2015
  • A Companion to the United States Constitution and Its Amendments (Praeger 1993, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2010, 2015). Rowman & Littlefield paperback edition 2011
  • Encyclopedia of the First Amendment , 2 vols., co-edited with David L. Hudson, Jr., and David Schultz (Congressional Quarterly, 2009)
  • Pleasing the Court: A Mock Trial Handbook, 5th edition (Cengage), 2012
  • James Madison: Philosopher, Founder, and Statesman, co-edited with William D. Peterson and Frank J. Williams. (Ohio University Press, 2008)
  • Presidents From Eisenhower through Johnson, 1953-1969. Debating the Issues in Pro and Con Primary Documents, edited with John A. King Jr. (Greenwood, 2006)
  • The Constitutional Convention of 1787: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of America's Founding, 2 vols. (ABC-CLIO, 2005)
  • Encyclopedia of Civil Liberties in America (M.E. Sharpe), 3 vols., co-edited with David Schultz, 2005
  • Coauthor with David E. Carlton and Mark Eaton Byrnes, On Common Ground: Framework for Democracy Study Guide, 2nd ed. (Pasadena, CA: INTELECOM, 2004)
  • Great American Judges: An Encyclopedia, editor, 2 vols., (ABC-CLIO, 2002)
  • Presidential Winners and Losers: Words of Victory and Concession (Congressional Quarterly, 2002)
  • Great American Lawyers: An Encyclopedia , ed., 2 vols. (ABC-CLIO, 2001 )
  • Tennessee Government and Politics: Democracy in the Volunteer State , edited with Mark Byrnes, (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1998)
  • The United States Constitution: Questions and Answers (Greenwood, 1998 ),(ABC-CLIO, 2014).
  • Constitutional Change in the United States (Praeger 1994)
  • The Theory and Practice of Constitutional Change in America, ed. (Lang 1993)
  • Contemporary Questions Surrounding the Constitution Amending Process (Praeger 1993)
  • The Constitutional Amending Process in American Political Thought (Praeger 1992)
  • Rewriting the United States Constitution (Praeger 1991 )
  • The History of the American Legal System: An Interactive Encyclopedia, CD-ROM (ABC-CLIO, 1999)

General Editor

Dr. Vile is the general editor of a series of books on Landmark Congressional Legislation for Greenwood publishers.

Education Congressional Laws Civil Rights Congressional Laws Youth Congressional Laws First Amendment Congressional Laws Social Security and Welfare Laws 

Introductions, Chapters and Essays

In addition to books, Dr. Vile has written numerous articles and reviews in a variety of political science and law journals. He received MTSU's Outstanding Research Award in 1993 and 1999. Books to which Dr. Vile has contributed include the followi

  • Introduction to Samuel Bell Thomas, in collaboration with Edward Williams, Our Weakened Constitution (Clark, NJ: The Lawbook Exchange, 2016)
  • Introduction to Reprint of Alexander Boyd Higgins Uncle Sam Unmasks the Masked (Buffalo, NY: William S. Hein & Co., Inc., 2015), iii-xxiii
  • Prison Narratives from Boethius to Zana, ed. Philip Phillips (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)
  • Introduction to John Alexander Jameson, A Treatise on Constitutional Conventions: Their History, Powers, and Modes of Proceeding (Lawbook Exchange, 2013), pp.v-vxxi
  • Introduction to Arthur J. Stansbury, Elementary Catechism on the Constituion of the United States (Lawbook Exchange, 2013), pp. c-xx
  • "Constitutional Revision in the United States of America," in Engineering Constitutional Change: A Comparative Perspective on Europe, Canada, and the USA, ed. Zenophon Contiades (London: Routledge, 2013), pp. 389-415
  • Multiple contributions to ABC-CLIO databases for high school students
  • Multiple contributions to Milestone Documents (Slaver, 2013)
  • "The President and the Supreme Court," The Presidency and the Executive Branch, 5th ed. (Washington, D.C., Sage Press, 2013) II: 1477-1595
  • Foreword to Time and Tradition: A Poetry Anthology, ed. by Philip M. Mathis (Twin Oaks Press, 2011)
  • "Noah Webster: Proposing and Promoting Stronger National Union Through the Power of the English Language," in Noah Webster, Sketches of American Policy (Clark, NJ: The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd., 2008), pp. iii-xix
  • Foreword to The Rehnquist Court Understanding Its Impact and Legacy, written by David L. Hudson, Jr. (Praeger, 2007)
  • "The President and the Executive Branch, Michael Nelson, ed., (Washington, D.C. Sage, 2013), II: 1477-1595
  • "Samuel Sewall: Defender of the Rule of Law?" Noble Purposes: Nine Champions of the Rule of Law, ed. Norman Gross (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007), pp. 3-16
  • Assorted essays, The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, ed. Kermit L. Hall, 2nd ed (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • "Charles Evans Hughes: An Eighteenth Century Statesman Redivivus," in Leaders of the Pack: Polls & Case Studies of Great Supreme Court Justices, ed. William D. Pederson and Norman W. Provizer, eds. (New York: Peter Lang, 2003)
  • Assorted essays in Kermit L. Hall, ed. The Oxford Companion to American Law (New York: Oxford, 2002).
  • Assorted essays in David Schultz, ed., Encyclopedia of American Law (New York: Facts on File, 2002).
  • "Tennessee," Legal Systems of the World: A Political, Social, and Cultural Encyclopedia," ed. Herbert M. Kritzer (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2002), IV: 1607-1610
  • "The Tennessee Supreme Court, 1946-1974: Tranquility amid a National Judicial Revolution," in A History of the Tennessee Supreme Court, ed. James W. Ely Jr. (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press), pp. 229-269
  • "Proposals to Amend the Constitution," American Government: Readings and Cases, Karen O'Connor, 2nd ed. (New York: Longman, 2001), pp. 40-46
  • Assorted entries, The Oxford Guide to United States Supreme Court Decisions, ed. by Kermit L. Hall (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)
  • The Early Presidents, The Presidency, ed. Michael Nelson (New York: Smithmark, 1996), pp. 64-81
  • "Judicial Interpretation Versus Constitutional Amendment," Research in Law and Policy Studies, ed. Stuart S. Nagel, Vol. 3, (Greenwich, CT: JAI Press Inc., 1995).
  • "The Case against Implicit Limits on the Constitutional Amending Process," Responding to Imperfection: The Theory and Practice of Constitutional Amendments, Sanford Levinson, ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995), pp. 191-214
  • "El Procesco De Enmendar La Constiucion en Los Estados Unidos de Norteamerica: Analisis Y Comparacion Con La Experiencia Mexicana," Derecho constitucional comparado Mexico-Estados Unidos (Mexico, Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico, 1990), pp. 201-216

Time and Tradition Blue Book  The Rehnquist Court Vile 2012 Book Cover Noble Purposes Supreme Court Decisions Leaders of the Pack  Legal Systems of the World A History of the TN Supreme Court American Government Supreme Court of the U.S. The Presidency Responding to Imperfection Mexico Book Engineering Constituion American Law 2 research in Law Oxford Companion to American Law A Treatise Elementary Catechism Prison Writings Vile Introduction Uncle SamOur Weakened Economy

Poetry Editor

Dr. Vile has also edited two books of his father's poetry and one of his proverbs (Ralph Vile).

  • Let the Bells Ring Out on Christmas Morning (Xulon Press, 2008)
  • Poverbs From the Poet Preacher: Quips, Quibbles, and Quotes (Xulon Press, 2008)
  • We are His Poets, the first volume of a projected seven volumes of Valley Verses (Xulon Press, 2007)

Christmas Morning Proverbs from the Poet Preacher We are His Poets


Dr. Vile works with Ms. Brandi Snow coaching MTSU mock trial teams. These teams have placed in the top ten nationally for eleven years, and students have won numerous individual awards. Vile serves as a member of the national board of the American Mock Trial Association. In 2000 he received the Congressman Neal Smith Award for Outstanding and Exemplary Contributions to Law-Related Education, and in 2008 he was inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame. Each November, MTSU sponsors one of the largest invitational mock trial tournaments in the nation.

Vile has served as past president of the Tennessee Political Science Association, of the MTSU Chairs Council, of the MTSU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, and of the MTSU chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Dr. Vile lives in Murfreesboro, is married to the former Linda Christensen, and has twin daughters. His wife teaches kindergarten at Stewartsville Elementary School in Smyrna. One daughter earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Tennessee and is now a office manager in a Knoxville dental office. The other, an MTSU graduate, is also a graduate of the Marshall Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and of George Washington University, is a prosecutor with the Virginia Commonwealth's Office in Newport News, Virginia. Dr. Vile enjoys collecting American art pottery and old campaign items and has several booths in local antique malls where he has stocked several thousand books. He may be reached at 615-898-2596 or by email ( and is accessible to students and other visitors in his office throughout the week. He is especially interested in talking to high school students (and their parents) who are considering attending MTSU.

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