Michael Klarman

Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law

Areeda 332

Assistant: Melinda Eakin / 617-496-2050

Biography

Professor Michael J. Klarman is the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard Law School, where he joined the faculty in 2008.  He received his B.A. and M.A. (political theory) from the University of Pennsylvania in 1980, his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1983, and his D. Phil. in legal history from the University of Oxford (1988), where he was a Marshall Scholar.  After law school, Professor Klarman clerked for the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (1983-84).  He joined the faculty at the University of Virginia School of Law in 1987 and served there until 2008 as the James Monroe Distinguished Professor of Law and Professor of History. 

Klarman has also served as the Ralph S. Tyler, Jr., Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, Distinguished Visiting Lee Professor of Law at the Marshall Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary, Visiting Professor at Stanford Law School, and Visiting Professor at Yale Law School. 

Klarman has won numerous awards for his teaching and scholarship, which are primarily in the areas of Constitutional Law and Constitutional History.  In 2009 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Klarman’s first book, From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality, was published by Oxford University Press in 2004 and received the 2005 Bancroft Prize in History.  He published two books in the summer of 2007, also with Oxford University Press: Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Movement and Unfinished Business: Racial Equality in American History, which is part of Oxford’s Inalienable Rights series.  In 2012, he published From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage. He is currently working on a revisionist history of the Founding.

Areas of Interest

Michael J. Klarman, The Framers' Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution (Oxford Univ. Press 2016).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Constitutional History
,
Legal History
Type: Book
Abstract
"Based on prodigious research and told largely through the voices of the participants, Michael Klarman's The Framers' Coup narrates how the Framers' clashing interests shaped the Constitution--and American history itself. … Not only does Klarman capture the knife's-edge atmosphere of the convention, he populates his narrative with riveting and colorful stories. … The Framers' Coup is more than a compendium of great stories, however, and the powerful arguments that feature throughout will reshape our understanding of the nation's founding. Simply put, the Constitutional Convention almost didn't happen, and once it happened, it almost failed. And, even after the convention succeeded, the Constitution it produced almost failed to be ratified. Just as importantly, the Constitution was hardly the product of philosophical reflections by brilliant, disinterested statesmen, but rather ordinary interest group politics. Multiple conflicting interests had a say, from creditors and debtors to city dwellers and backwoodsmen. The upper class overwhelmingly supported the Constitution; many working class colonists were more dubious. Slave states and nonslave states had different perspectives on how well the Constitution served their interests. Ultimately, both the Constitution's content and its ratification process raise troubling questions about democratic legitimacy. The Federalists were eager to avoid full-fledged democratic deliberation over the Constitution, and the document that was ratified was stacked in favor of their preferences. And in terms of substance, the Constitution was a significant departure from the more democratic state constitutions of the 1770s. Definitive and authoritative, The Framers' Coup explains why the Framers preferred such a constitution and how they managed to persuade the country to adopt it. We have lived with the consequences, both positive and negative, ever since"-- Publisher's website.
Michael J. Klarman, From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage (Oxford Univ. Press 2013).
Categories:
Family Law
,
Government & Politics
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
LGBTQ Rights Law
,
Gender & Sexuality
,
Domestic Relations
,
Congress & Legislation
Type: Book
Abstract
Klarman traces this same pattern--court victory followed by dramatic backlash--through cases in Vermont, California, and Iowa, taking the story right up to the present.
Michael J. Klarman, Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Movement (Oxford Univ. Press 2007).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Constitutional Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Constitutional History
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Civil Rights
,
Congress & Legislation
,
Supreme Court of the United States
Type: Book
Michael J. Klarman, Tribute, Judicial Statesmanship: Justice Breyer’s Concurring Opinion in Van Orden v. Perry, 128 Harv. L. Rev. 452 (2014).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Constitutional Law
Sub-Categories:
Constitutional History
,
Religion
,
Religion & Law
,
Supreme Court of the United States
Type: Article
Michael J. Klarman, Windsor and Brown: Marriage Equality and Racial Equality, 127 Harv. L. Rev. 127 (2013).
Categories:
Family Law
,
Government & Politics
,
Constitutional Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Constitutional History
,
Fourteenth Amendment
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
LGBTQ Rights Law
,
Civil Rights
,
Domestic Relations
,
Supreme Court of the United States
Type: Article
The Political Heart of Criminal Procedure: Essays on Themes of William J. Stuntz (Michael J. Klarman, David Skeel & Carol Steiker eds., Cambridge Univ. Press 2012).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
Type: Book
Michael J. Klarman, The Foundng Revisited, 125 Harv. L. Rev. 544 (2011) (reviewing Pauline Maier, Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
Sub-Categories:
Constitutional History
Type: Article
Carol S. Steiker, Daniel C. Richman, David A. Skeel, Martha Minow, Michael J. Klarman, Pamela S. Karlan & Robert E. Scott, In Memoriam: William J. Stuntz, 124 Harv. L. Rev. 1844 (2011).
Categories:
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Biography & Tribute
Type: Article
Michael J. Klarman, Has the Supreme Court Been More a Friend or Foe to African Americans?, 140 Daedalus 101 (2011).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Constitutional Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Constitutional History
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Civil Rights
,
Supreme Court of the United States
,
Congress & Legislation
Type: Article
Michael J. Klarman, Social Reform Litigation and Its Challenges: An Essay in Honor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg , 32 Harv. J.L. & Gender 251 (2009).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Government & Politics
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Law & Public Policy
,
Civil Rights
,
Gender & Sexuality
,
Supreme Court of the United States
,
Judges & Jurisprudence
,
Biography & Tribute
Type: Article
Michael J. Klarman, Race and Rights, in 3 The Cambridge History of Law in America 403 (Christopher Tomlins & Michael Grossberg eds., Cambridge Univ. Press 2008).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Constitutional History
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Civil Rights
Type: Book
Abstract
Profound changes in American racial attitudes and practices occurred during the second half of the twentieth century. This chapter examines the social and political conditions that enabled the modern civil rights revolution and situates the Court's racial rulings in their historical context. Several decisions in the 1960s expanded the concept of state action, enabling the justices to strike at instances of race discrimination that previously were thought beyond the reach of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court began to revolutionize First Amendment doctrine, criminal procedure, the law of federal courts, and habeas corpus rules, based largely on the justices' conviction that Southern states could not be trusted to deal fairly with matters involving race. Changing social and political circumstances halted civil rights progress just as the movement reached its zenith. As civil rights leaders shifted their focus to the North and broadened their objectives to include economic redistribution, many previously sympathetic whites became alienated from the movement.
Michael J. Klarman, Unfinished Business: Racial Equality in American History (Oxford Univ. Press 2007).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Constitutional History
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Civil Rights
Type: Book
Abstract
Unfinished Business offers an invaluable, succinct account of racial equality and civil rights throughout American history.
Michael J. Klarman, Why Massive Resistance, in Massive Resistance: Southern Opposition to the Second Reconstruction 21 (Clive Webb ed., Oxford Univ. Press 2005).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
,
Civil Rights
,
State & Local Government
Type: Book
Abstract
This chapter assesses how the forces of massive resistance overwhelmed more liberal opinion on racial integration. It stresses that those white southerners who were opposed to the Brown decision were more politically committed than were those who accepted or supported it. It adds that die-hard segregationists used the apparatus of local and state government to destroy political dissent among the southern whites. It highlights the importance of legislative malapportionment, which provided disproportionate political power to rural districts where white racism was most virulent.
Michael Klarman, Brown v. Board of Education: Law or Politics?, in From the Grassroots to the Supreme Court: Brown v. Board of Education and American Democracy (Peter F. Lau ed., Duke Univ. Press 2004).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Government & Politics
,
Family Law
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Discrimination
,
Civil Rights
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Education Law
,
Politics & Political Theory
,
Supreme Court of the United States
,
Legal History
Type: Book
Michael J. Klarman, Brown at 50, 90 Va. L. Rev. 1613 (2004).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Constitutional Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Constitutional History
,
Civil Rights
,
Supreme Court of the United States
Type: Article
Michael J. Klarman, It Could Have Gone the Other Way, 278 Nation 24 (2004).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Constitutional Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Constitutional History
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Civil Rights
,
Supreme Court of the United States
Type: Article
Michael J. Klarman, From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality (Oxford Univ. Press 2004).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Constitutional Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Constitutional History
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Civil Rights
,
Supreme Court of the United States
,
Congress & Legislation
Type: Book

Academic Appointment and Employment History

Education History

Honors and Awards

Current Courses

Course Catalog View

Areeda 332

Assistant: Melinda Eakin / 617-496-2050