Garvey is a nationally acclaimed expert in constitutional law, religious liberty, and the first amendment. He has authored and co-authored numerous books, including What Are Freedoms For? (1996); Religion and the Constitution (2011), which won the Alpha Sigma Nu Jesuit book award; and Sexuality and the U.S. Catholic Church (2007), which won the Catholic Press Association Award.
The second of eight children, Garvey grew up in Sharon, Pennsylvania. From childhood, his Catholic faith has been at the center of his life. His father, a small town lawyer, took Garvey and his siblings to Mass before school. His extended family comprised devout grandparents on both sides who counted priests and religious among their siblings, nieces, and nephews.
Garvey received his A.B. summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1970, having participated in an open program of study that waived major requirements for the university’s top students. Taking advantage of the opportunity to structure his own studies, Garvey read political science, philosophy, and French, and otherwise took courses from the best professors he could find.
After graduation, Garvey entered Harvard Divinity School on a Danforth Fellowship but left after one semester. He entered Harvard Law School the following year, graduating in 1974. Garvey then clerked for Irving R. Kaufman, the Chief Judge of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and later joined the law firm of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco.
In 1976 he began teaching law at the University of Kentucky, an appointment he held until 1994. He spent the 1985-86 school year as a visiting professor at the University of Michigan. From 1981 to 1984 he served as Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States. He argued several prominent cases before the United States Supreme Court, including Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corporation and Heckler v. Campbell, which addressed disability regulation within the Social Security Administration. He was elected to the American Law Institute at the age of 33.
Garvey taught law at the University of Notre Dame from 1994 until 1999 when he was appointed dean of Boston College Law School. During his tenure as dean from 1999 to 2010, he hired 20 new faculty, established an Alumni Association and Board of Overseers, rebuilt the administrative infrastructure, and bolstered an institutional sense of Jesuit, Catholic identity.
Throughout his years as the President of The Catholic University of America, Garvey has emphasized that a Catholic approach to scholarship enriches every school and discipline. During his inaugural year, Garvey hosted a series of prominent intellectuals across academic fields to lecture on the interplay between their ideas about virtue and their scholarly work. Under Garvey, Catholic University launched the Busch School of Business in 2013 to integrate rigorous business education with Catholic Social Teaching. He affectionately refers to the Busch School as “a business school for the little guy,” because of its emphasis on service over personal gain. Garvey has continued to be a prominent voice in the public square on a number of issues, including higher education, culture, law, Catholicism, and religious liberty.
Garvey has regularly testified before the United States House of Representatives (on issues like anti-Semitism (2013) and religious liberty (2012)). He has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Atlantic, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Garvey has appeared on major news networks including ABC, CBS, Fox, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, National Public Radio, and BBC. He is also a regular contributor to several Catholic news outlets and publications including EWTN, Catholic TV, Vatican Radio, America, Catholic News Agency, Catholic World Report, Commonweal, Famille Chrétienne, First Things, National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, Religion News Service, and Touchstone. He writes a monthly column for the Catholic News Service.
Garvey and his wife Jeanne Walter Garvey have five children and 23 grandchildren.
The Catholic University of America, president (July 1, 2010)
Boston College Law School, dean (1999-2010)
Notre Dame Law School, professor (1994-99)
University of Michigan Law School, visiting professor (1985-86)
University of Kentucky College of Law, professor (1976-94)
United States Department of Justice, Assistant to Solicitor General (1981-84)
Morrison & Foerster, San Francisco, California, associate (1975-76)
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, law clerk to Irving R. Kaufman (1974-75)
Sexuality and the U.S. Catholic Church, Herder & Herder, 2007 (coauthor)
Religion and the Constitution, Aspen, third edition, 2011 (coauthor)
What Are Freedoms For? Harvard University Press, 1996
Modern Constitutional Theory, West Publishing, fifth edition, 2004 (coauthor)
The First Amendment, West Publishing, second edition, 1996 (coauthor)