Professor of Law
B.A., University of Notre Dame
M.P.A., Murray State University
M.A., Vanderbilt University
J.D., Vanderbilt University Law School
Areas of Expertise
- Land Use
- Legal History
- National Security Law
- State & Local Government
Matt Festa teaches and researches in the areas of property law and land use, state & local government, energy & environmental law, trusts & estates, legal history, and national security law. His scholarship focuses on the relation between property rights and public control in land use planning and government regulation; on the role of property rights in constitutional law and history; and on property and the rule of law in contemporary international affairs.
Professor Festa joined the South Texas College of Law Houston faculty in 2007, after serving as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Georgia School of Law. Prior to teaching, he practiced in litigation, land use, environmental, and energy law at Locke Lord LLP. He served as a law clerk to federal judges on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Prof. Festa attended Vanderbilt University, where he was the Executive Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review and earned a masters’ degree in history. Prior to law school he served in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, and earned a masters’ degree in public administration. He earned his undergraduate degree in history and English at the University of Notre Dame.
Professor Festa currently serves as a judge advocate in the U.S. Army Reserve, where he is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of International & Operational Law at the ABA-accredited Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, and is also an Instructor with the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies. He is the editor of the Land Use Prof Blog, and lives in the “Unzoned City” of Houston with his spouse, who teaches at Rice University, and their two children.
Show / Hide Bibliography
Land Use in The Unzoned City, ARCH+: Journal for Architecture and Urbanism, Legislating Architecture, May 2016 at 56. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2270956
Houston – Land Use in The Unzoned City, ARCH+: Journal for Architecture and Urbanism, Legislating Architecture, May 2016 at 54.
Why Scholarly Publishing Matters for JAS, 2020 Army Law. no. 4 at 38 (with Lt. Col. Patrick M. Walsh).
A Primer on Key International Law Issues for the Regionally Aligned Legal Advisor , Army Law., Nov. 2015 at 16. (with Ryan B. Dowdy et al.)
Towards Engaged Scholarship , 33 Pace L. Rev. 821 (2013). (with John Nolon et al.)
Property and Republicanism in the Northwest Ordinance , 45 Arizona St. L.J. 409 (2013).
Land Use in the Unzoned City , In Re, Spring 2012, at 14.
Academic Research and Writing as Best Practices in Teaching Land Use , 29 Pace Envtl L. Rev. 51 (2011) (invited contribution).
Applying a Usable Past: the Use of History in Law , 38 Seton Hall L. Rev. 479 (2008).
Dueling Federalists: Supreme Court Decisions with Multiple Opinions Citing ‘The Federalist’, 1986 2007 , 31 Seattle U. L. Rev. 75 (2007).
The Origins and Constitutionality of State Unit Voting in the Electoral College , 54 Vand. L. Rev. 2099 (2001).
From the Reading Room, 26 J. Affordable Housing & Community Dev. L. 236 (2017) (reviewing Jonathan F.P. Rose, The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us about the Future of Urban Life (2016)).
Post-Conflict Governance, Law of Armed Conflict Deskbook (International & Operational Law Department, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, 2014; 2015) at https://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/pdf/LOAC-Deskbook-2015.pdf
Joint Operations, Operational Law Handbook (International and Operational Law Department, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, 2013; 2014; 2015) at https://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/pdf/operational-law-handbook_2013.pdf
Contributor, Barry Friedman & John C.P. Goldberg, Open Book: Succeeding on Exams from the First Day of Law School (New York: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2011).
Contributing Author, The Rule Of Law Handbook: A Practitioner’s Guide for Judge Advocates, 2008. (Charlottesville, VA: Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, U.S. Army, Center for Law and Military Operations, 2008).
Contributing Editor, Keeping Current—Property , Prob. & Prop., to date.
PRESENTATIONS & PROCEEDINGS
Land Use in the Unzoned City: Regulation, Authority, and the Problem of De Facto Zoning , invited colloquium, Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Houston 2015.
“A Revolutionary on Two Continents: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Transnational Constitutionalism,” Constitution Day Speech, Robert Rankin Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, 2015.
“Ashby High Rise: It Could Happen to You!,” Commercial Real Estate Conference, South Texas College of Law Houston, 2015.
What’s Going on in Houston Development? Nuisance Claims are the new Zoning , 29th Annual Real Estate Law Conference (Houston: South Texas College of Law Houston, 2014). (Tab S)
“Nuisance Claims are the New Zoning,” Real Estate Law Conference, South Texas College of Law Houston, 2014.
Moderator, “Sex, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll,” Garland Walker American Inn of Court, 2014.
“The Constitution, Military Lawyers, and the Rule of Law,” Constitution Day Speech, Robert Rankin Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, 2014.
Local Jus Post Bellum: Towards an Application of Local Government Law to Post-Conflict Society, presented at Local Government Law Workshop, Orange CA, 2013.
Houston, We Have Zoning, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University, 2013.
Writing Abstracts and Legal Scholarship, South Texas College of Law Houston, 2013.
Property Rights and the Public Trust, Association for Law, Property, & Society, 2013.
The Myth of Houston’s Land Use Exceptionalism, University of Houston Law Center, 2013.
“Legal Foundations of Land Use Planning, Roles, and Responsibilities,” Texas A&M Coastal Citizen Planner Program, 2013.
Commentator, “Trials of the Century,” Garland Walker American Inn of Court, 2013.
“The Denbury Pipeline Case,” Professors’ Corner teleconference, American Bar Association, 2013.
De Facto Zoning , invited participant, Local Government Law Works-in-Progress conference, Marquette University Law School, September 2012.
Applying Practice to Land Use Scholarship and Teaching , invited participant, Practically Grounded Symposium, Pace Law School, May 2012.
What is ‘Zoning’? Regulation, Authority, and the Problem of De Facto Zoning , Association for Law, Property, and Society, March 2012.
Property Rights and Pets , Houston Bar Association Animal Law Section Conference, 2012.
Professors’ Corner teleconference guest speaker , American Bar Association, 2012.
U.S. Efforts to Promote the Rule of Law Abroad , invited speaker, Garland Walker American Inns of Court presentation, 2012.
“The Guardian of Every Other Right: Property and the Bill of Rights,” invited speaker, Austin College Bill of Rights Symposium, 2011.
Property Rights and the New Federalism , Southeastern Association of Law Schools, 2011.
Academic Research and Writing as Best Practices in Teaching Land Use , Practically Grounded Symposium, 2011.
Property Rights at the Beach , invited speaker at Texas Wesleyan Law School presentation on Severance v. Patterson, 2011.
Property Rights and Rule of Law Operations , Association for Law Property, and Society, 2011.
A Property Rights Approach to Progressive Land Use , Northeastern Junior Faculty Teaching & Scholarship Development Workshop, 2011.
Housing Policy and the Subsidization of the American Dream , American Association of Law Schools Mid-Year Meeting, 2010.
Moderator, “The Global Warming Crisis: Fairness,” American Association of Law Schools Mid-Year Meeting, 2010.
Property Rights and the Home: From the American Dream to the Mortgage Crisis , inaugural meeting of the Association for Law, Property, and Society (ALPS), 2010.
A Property Rights Approach to Progressive Land Use , Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) New Scholars Workshop, 2009.
Property Rights and Rule of Law Operations , Law & Society Annual Meeting, 2009.
Chair & Discussant, “Intellectual Property,” Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities, Boston, MA, 2009.
Property Ownership in America from Jefferson to the Mortgage Crisis and Beyond , Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities, Boston, MA 2009.
Invited speaker, “Guantanamo and the Rule of Law,” Symposium on National Security, Civil Liberties, & Guantanamo: Implications on the Eve of the Closing, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University, 2009.
The Role of Property Rights in Promoting the Rule of Law in Post-Conflict Societies , National Security Law Junior Scholar Workshop, University of Texas at Austin, 2009.
A Property Rights Approach to Progressive Land Use , Junior Property Scholars Workshop, 2008.
The Relationship between Environmental Regulation and Inverse Condemnation: What is the Individual Cost for Environmental Protection? Red Clay Conference in Environmental Law, 2007.
The Role of Property Rights in Founding Era Republicanism , Southwest Social Science Association, 2006.
Discussant, Latino History , Southwest Social Science Association, 2006.
The Neglected Role of Property Rights in the Founding Era Vision of the Common Good , Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities (ASLCH), 2006.
The Underestimated Role of Property in Founding Era U.S. Republican Ideology , New England Historical Association, 2005.
Applying a Usable Past: Historical Evidence in the Law , Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities (ASLCH), 2005.
Chair & Discussant, Legal & Economic History, Interdisciplinary Session, Southwest Social Science Association, 2005.
Conflicting Opinions Citing The Federalist on the Rehnquist Court, 1986-2005 , Southwest Political Science Association, 2005.
The Application of a Usable Past , Southwest Historical Association, 2005.
Dueling Federalists , Southern Political Science Association, 2005.
The Application of a Usable Past: Toward a Reconciliation of the Professional Standards of History and Law , Biennial Meeting of The Historical Society, 2004.
Private Rights and the Public Good: The Northwest Ordinance, Property Law, and Constitutionalism in the Early Republic , Annual Meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR), 2003.
Dueling Federalists and Judicial Politics: Rehnquist Court Cases with Multiple Uses of The Federalist, 1986 2003 , Georgia Political Science Association, 2003.
The Northwest Ordinance, Property Law, and the Political Economy of the Early Republic , Great Lakes History Conference, 2002.
The Role of Property Rights in the Northwest Ordinance , Ohio Valley History Conference, 2001.