Risa L. Goluboff

Risa L. Goluboff

Fellow: Awarded 2009
Field of Study: Constitutional Studies

Competition: US & Canada

University of Virginia School of Law

Risa Goluboff teaches constitutional law, civil rights law, and legal and constitutional history at the University of Virginia. Her scholarship focuses on the history of civil rights, labor, and constitutional law in the 20th century. Her book, The Lost Promise of Civil Rights (Harvard University Press, 2007), explored alternative understandings of civil rights in the era before Brown v. Board of Education. The book was co-winner of the 2008 James Willard Hurst Prize, awarded by the Law and Society Association for the best work in socio-legal history published in 2007. Ms. Goluboff is also co-editor (with Myriam Gilles) of Civil Rights Stories (Foundation Press, 2008).

Ms. Goluboff’s current research traces the history of American vagrancy laws from the 1950s through the 1970s. She shows how grassroots efforts and legal cases transformed vagrancy laws from uncontroversially legitimate to unquestionably illegitimate. Goluboff describes the constitutional invalidation of vagrancy laws as part of the major upheavals that convulsed American social, cultural, and political life during the “long 1960s.” Because vagrancy laws had been a key vehicle through which local communities and government officials had controlled the status of minorities, dissidents, nonconformists, and poor people, a revolution in the relationship between these marginalized groups and police power was an integral part of the multiple social revolutions of the 1960s.

Risa Goluboff graduated summa cum laude with an A.B. from Harvard College, in history and sociology. She earned her J.D. from Yale Law School, and her Ph.D. in history from Princeton University. After law school, she clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and then for Justice Stephen G. Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court. She joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in 2002, where she currently serves as Professor of Law, Professor of History, and Caddell & Chapman Research Professor. Ms. Goluboff has also taught at the University of Cape Town as a Fulbright Scholar, and as a visiting professor at New York University Law School and Columbia Law School.


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