Professor of Law, Henry Rutgers Professor, Robert L. Carter Scholar
Elise Boddie
Rutgers Law School
S.I. Newhouse Center for Law and Justice
123 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07102

Elise Boddie, a nationally-recognized expert in civil rights and award-winning legal scholar, was previously the director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. She is a frequent public speaker and has appeared on MSNBC, NBC Nightly News, Democracy Now and National Public Radio and is the author of several articles. She holds a master’s degree in public policy in addition to her law degree.

  • Biography
  • Publications
  • Courses Taught
  • Expertise

Elise C. Boddie is a Professor of Law, Henry Rutgers Professor, and Judge Robert L. Carter Scholar.  In 2020, she was named the founding Newark Director of Rutgers University’s Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice, which at the time of its launch was described by a senior university official as “one of the most far-reaching intellectual and institutional projects Rutgers has undertaken.”  Boddie's scholarship explores the regulation and production of race in spatial contexts and dynamic systems that perpetuate racial inequality.   She teaches constitutional law, state and local government law, and civil rights.  

In 2012, the Law and Society Association awarded Boddie the John Hope Franklin Prize for her article, “Racial Territoriality,” which appeared in the UCLA Law Review.  She also has published in the Columbia Law ReviewUniversity of Chicago Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, the North Carolina Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, the Harvard Law Review Forum, the UCLA Law Review Discourse, and the Iowa Law Review Bulletin.  Her commentary has been published multiple times in the New York Times and SCOTUSblog, and in the Washington Post, the TakeCareBlog, Salon, Slate, and the Huffington Post, among other news outlets.  She has appeared in national and international news programs.  Most recently, she appeared in the BBC documentary, "The Black American Fight for Freedom," which was released in the U.S. in June 2021. 

Professor Boddie’s work bridges diverse disciplines and practices of scholarship, teaching, community, and service and is widely cited and discussed in both academic and non-academic circles.  She is a frequent public speaker and has lectured to audiences around the country.  As the founder and director of The Inclusion Project at Rutgers Law School, she is engaged with communities, students, faith leaders, educators, and researchers in a multisector initiative to build equitable education systems in New Jersey public schools.  She is also a founding trustee of the New Jersey Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools.  In 2020, the Urban League of Essex County gave Boddie its Whitney M. Young, Jr. award in recognition of her efforts to create opportunity in low-income communities. She was elected to the American Law Institute in 2017 and as an American Bar Foundation Fellow in 2019.  In 2016, Rutgers University President Robert Barchi appointed her a Henry Rutgers Professor in recognition of her "high quality scholarship, teaching, and service." In 2021, President Biden appointed Boddie to the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States.  At the invitation of the American Law Institute, she participated during the spring of 2022 in a small bipartisan group that was convened to propose reforms to the federal Electoral Count Act.  

Before joining the Rutgers faculty, Boddie was the director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and supervised its nationwide litigation program, including its advocacy in several major U.S. Supreme Court and federal appellate cases involving voting rights, affirmative action, and fair housing.  From 1999-2005, she litigated affirmative action, employment, economic justice, and school desegregation cases in federal district courts and in federal courts of appeals. During this period, she served as LDF’s Director of Education and as an Associate Director of Litigation.  She has served in leadership positions on the national board of the American Constitution Society and also serves on the board of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.  During the 2016 presidential campaign, she was the Coordinator for Hillary Clinton's Civil Rights & Racial Justice Working Policy Group,

Boddie received her J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School and her B.A. cum laude from Yale.  She also holds a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  Following a clerkship for Judge Robert L. Carter in the Southern District of New York, Boddie litigated at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson in its New York office as the first recipient of the Fried, Frank/LDF fellowship. Boddie has also taught at New York Law School and at Fordham Law School as a visiting assistant professor.



Racially Territorial Policing in Black Neighborhoods, 89(2) University of Chicago Law Review 477 (2022) (listed on SSRN's Top Ten download list for Law & Society: Criminal Procedure eJournal)

Ordinariness as Equality, 93 Indiana Law Journal 57 (2018)

The Contested Role of Time in Equal Protection, 117 Columbia Law Review 1825 (2017)

The Future of Affirmative Action,  Harvard Law Review Forum (2016) (solicited)

The Constitutionality of Racially Integrative Purpose, 38 Cardozo Law Review 531 (2016) 

Adaptive Discrimination, 94 North Carolina Law Review 1235 (2016) (reprinted in Vol 32 of the Civil Rights Litigation and Attorneys Fees Annual Handbook)

The Indignities of Colorblindness, UCLA Law Review Discourse (2016) 

The Sins of Innocence in Standing Doctrine, 68 Vanderbilt Law Review 297 (2015)

Critical Mass and the Paradox of Colorblind Individualism in Equal Protection, 17 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law  781 (2015) 

The Way Forward: Racial Integration After Ricci, A Response to Michelle Adams, 96 Iowa Law Review Bulletin 100 (2011)

Racial Territoriality, 58 UCLA Law Review 401 (2010)


The Muddled Distinction Between De Jure and De Facto Segregation, The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Education Law (Oxford University Press) (book chapter) (2020)

Palmer v. Thompson, in Critical Race Judgments:  Rewritten U.S. Court Opinions on Race and Law (Cambridge University Press) (book chapter) (April 2022)


Equal Protection Outside the Courts

Geographies of Justice:  The Hidden Stories of Race, Law, and the Search for Ordinariness in Everyday Spaces (book project)

Can Systems Analysis Improve Enforcement Against Racial Discrimination?

Education Outlaws


 "The year of COVID:  The vulnerability of being Black or brown,", March 20, 2021 (solicited)

"Hank Aaron and the Hill," Rutgers University Today, Feb. 4, 2021

"Five Myths about School Segregation," The Washington Post, Oct. 30, 2020 (solicited)

"Kamala Harris Has a Brilliant Idea on Abortion," New York Times, June 6, 2019 (400,000 page views); (published in New York Times print edition, "Revive Our Best Civil Rights Tool," June 7, 2019)

"On Executive Power, Bigotry, and Borders," Take Care Blog, July 3, 2018

"Linda Brown and the Unfinished Work of School Integration," The New York Times, March 30, 2018 (with Dennis D. Parker)

"Philando Castile and the Terror of an Ordinary Day," The New York Times, June 20, 2017 (mentioned on PBSNews Hour online and featured on National Public Radio's "The Takeaway)

"The Extraordinary Injustice at the Heart of Buck v. Davis," American Constitution Society Blog, Oct. 7, 2016

Fisher II:  The Beneficial Purposes of Race,” SCOTUSblog, June 24, 2016

"Fulfilling Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream:  the Role for Higher Education," The Conversation, Jan. 18, 2016 (with co-authors, Roland Anglin, Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Peter Englot, and David Troutt)

“Why Supreme Court Justices Should Celebrate College Diversity, Not Reject It,” The New York Times, Dec. 8, 2015

“Shoe Stories: Civil Rights and the Inequality of Place,” The Impact Center at New York Law School (collection of essays)

“The Arc of the Moral Universe,” American Constitution Society Blog, Jan. 19, 2015

Schuette v. BAMN:  How the Court Undermined Racial Liberty in the Democratic Process,” Huffington Post, April 30, 2014

“Commentary on Fisher:  In with a bang, out with a fizzle,” SCOTUSblog, June 24, 2013

“Commentary on Fisher:  The importance of diversity within diversity,” SCOTUSblog, Oct. 11, 2012



Courses Taught
  • Civil Rights
  • Constitutional Law