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

A nationally recognized expert in civil rights and an award-winning legal scholar, Elise C. Boddie is a Professor of Law, Henry Rutgers Professor, and Judge Robert L. Carter Scholar.   She is a leading scholar and commentator on the intersection of race and civil and constitutional rights.  Her work explores the regulation of race in spatial contexts and dynamic systems that perpetuate racial inequality.  Boddie teaches constitutional law, civil rights, and state and local government law.  Before joining the Rutgers faculty, she 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.

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. In 2012, the Law and Society Association awarded her the John Hope Franklin Prize for her article, “Racial Territoriality,” which appeared in the UCLA Law Review.  She has also published in the Columbia 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 appeared multiple times in the New York Times and SCOTUSblog, and in the TakeCareBlog, Huffington Post, Slate, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.  She is a frequent public speaker and has appeared on MSNBC, NBC Nightly News, Democracy Now, and National Public Radio, among other television and radio programs.

Boddie is the founder and director of The Inclusion Project (TIP) at Rutgers Law School, which seeks to advance racial inclusion and equity through law and policy, using research, community engagement, and media. She is also a founding trustee of the New Jersey Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools and has been a leader in the current effort to integrate public schools in New Jersey. She was instrumental in facilitating  the case Latino Action Network, et al. v. State of New Jersey that challenges school segregation statewide. Her other areas of service include her past membership on the national board of the American Constitution Society (Executive and Finance Committees; co-chair, Strategic Planning); her participation on the Rutgers-Newark Chancellor's Commission on Diversity and Transformation and on the steering committee of the National Coalition on School Diversity.  She also coordinated the Civil Rights & Racial Justice Policy Working Group for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.  In previous years, she served on the boards of the North Star Fund, the Passaic County Legal Aid Society, and Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey, on the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s Labor & Employment Law Committee, and on a blue ribbon task force convened by the Montclair, New Jersey school superintendent to promote integration in the local public schools.  She currently sits on the board of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (Governance and Strategic Directions Committees).  

Boddie was nominated and elected to membership in the American Law Institute and is also an elected fellow of the American Bar Foundation.  In 2016, Rutgers University President Robert Barchi appointed her a Henry Rutgers Professor in recognition of her "high quality scholarship, teaching, and service."



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)

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) (forthcoming 2020)

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 Consequences of Localism at the Racial Border

Parents' Conflicted Beliefs About the Importance of School Diversity, Segregation, and High-Quality Education in Suburban New Jersey (with Dr. Allison Roda (lead author) and Dr. Ryan Coughlan) (discussing results of research on parental attitudes toward school choice to promote integration)


"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 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