Judge Zanon took his undergraduate degree from the Law Faculty of the University of Turin. His thesis in the field of Comparative Public Law, which obtained the distinction of publication, was on the “guardian of the constitution” debate between Carl Schmitt and Hans Kelsen.
In 1989 he received the title of Research Doctor of Comparative Law from the Law Faculty of the University of Florence.
He began his academic career in 1991 as a Researcher in Comparative Constitutional Law at the University of Turin.
He spent time as a visiting researcher in France, with the Groupe de Recherches et Études sur la Justice Constitutionnelle in Aix-en-Provence, and in Germany, at the University of Bayreuth. From 1996 to 1997 he clerked for Judge Valerio Onida at the Constitutional Court in Rome.
He taught as an adjunct professor of Public Law Institutions at Bocconi University in Milan and, in 1996, became Associate Professor of Public Law Institutions in the Political Science Department of the University of Padua. In November of the following year, he became Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Milan-Bicocca.
In November of 1999, following his selection through a public competition, he joined the Law Faculty of the Università degli Studi, the State University of Milan, as a Professor of Constitutional Law. He has been Full Professor of Constitutional Law there since 2002.
In his scholarly work, Professor Zanon has largely focused on three areas: first, issues relating to the constitutional position of members of parliament and their traditional freedom from binding mandates; second, matters of regional law, constitutional justice, and the protection of fundamental rights in the Italian and foreign legal systems; and, finally, issues concerning the role and powers of the judiciary in the Italian Constitutional system. He has written numerous articles published in both Italian law reviews (including Giurisprudenza Costituzionale, Le Regioni, Quaderni Costituzionali, and Giurisprudenza Italiana), and foreign law reviews (Annuaire International de Justice Constitutionnelle).
Professor Zanon has served in a variety of important institutional roles in his academic career. From April 2009 to July 2010 he was a member of the Consiglio di Presidenza della Giustizia Amministrativa, following his election to that post by the Senate of the Republic. In July 2010 he was elected by the joint session of the Parliament to be a non-judicial member of the High Council of the Judiciary, a role he held until 25 September 2014. During that time, on 11 June 2013, the President of the Council of Ministers appointed him, by decree, to the Committee of Experts to advise on the constitutional reforms.
His professional life has included extensive involvement in research and other institutions. In 1998 the Director General of the President’s Office for the Lombardy Region appointed him to the working group for the revision of the regional statute. From October of 2000 to July of 2010 he alsp sat on the Legislative Committee of the Lombardy Region. He has served as an advisor to the national Parliamentary Committee for Regional Matters.
From 2005 to 2010 he was a member of the A. Marongiu research center of the Italian Association of Criminal Lawyers. He put together the editorial board of the journal Ideazione, sat on the academic board of the journal Giurisprudenza Costituzionale, and currently sits on the executive board of the journal Quaderni Costituzionali and on the academic board of the journal Percorsi Costituzionali.
He is a member of the Riforme e Garanzie board of the Magna Carta Foundation (Rome). He has written as a columnist for three daily newspapers: IlSole 24Ore, Il Giornale, and Libero. From April 2001 to 2010, following his appointment by the University of Milan, he served as a member of the administrative council of the cancer research foundation Fondazione Italiana per la Ricerca Contro il Cancro (FIRC). He also served on the administrative council of the Rosselli Foundation of Turin.
In November 2008, Judge Zanon became a founding member (together with Giuliano Amato, Alessandro Campi, Vincenzo Cerulli Irelli, Paolo De Ioanna, Gianni Letta, Massimo Luciani, Domenico Marchetta, Pier Carlo Padoan, Angelo Maria Petroni, Giulio Tremonti, and Luciano Violante) of the public policy research association Italiadecide - Associazione di Ricerca per la Qualità delle Politiche Pubbliche.
In 2017 he was awarded the title of Cavaliere di Gran Croce by the President of the Italian Republic.
As an attorney admitted to practice before the higher courts, he has participated in many proceedings before the Constitutional Court. These matters have concerned the constitutionality of laws (both through the incidental form of review and when the Court was seized directly), as well as conflicts between branches of state and rulings on the admissibility of a referendum to repeal.
He has authored, co-authored, or edited 18 books and published more than 150 articles and essays in academic journals.
His most noteworthy books include:
- Il Libero Mandato Parlamentare: Saggio Critico sull’Articolo 67 della Costituzione, Giuffré, Milan, 1991
- L’Exception d’Inconstitutionnalité in Francia: una Riforma Difficile, Giappichelli, Turin, 1990
- Pubblico Ministero e Costituzione, Cedam, Padua, 1995
- (with Francesca Biondi) Il Sistema Costituzionale della Magistratura, Giappichelli, Turin, 2019