Pamela S. Karlan


Pamela Karlan is the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and a founder and co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School.  The Clinic has represented parties in more than fifty merits cases and amici ranging from the bipartisan leadership of the House Judiciary Committee to labor unions, and from overseas voters to survivors of torture.  Karlan herself has argued ten.

Pam’s primary scholarship involves constitutional litigation, particularly with respect to voting rights and antidiscrimination law.  She has published dozens of scholarly articles and is the co-author of three leading casebooks as well as a monograph on constitutional interpretation—Keeping Faith with the Constitution (Oxford University Press).  She has received numerous teaching awards.

Pam received her B.A., M.A., and J.D. from Yale.  After clerking for U.S. District Court Judge Abraham Sofaer and Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, she practiced law at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.  Her public service includes a term as a commissioner on the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which implements and enforces the State’s campaign finance, lobbying, and conflict of interest laws.  Most recently, she served as the principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, heading the Division until the confirmation for five months and then serving as the reviewer for the Appellate, Educational Opportunity, Immigrant and Employee Rights, and Voting Sections.  During her prior service at the Division, she received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service (the Department’s highest award for employee performance) for work in implementing the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor and the John Marshall Award for Providing Legal Advice for her work on Title VII and gender identity.

Pam is a member of the American Academy of Arts and the American Law Institute. In 2021, she received the American Bar Association’s Margaret Brent Award. In 2016, she was named one of the Politico 50 — a group of “thinkers, doers, and visionaries transforming American politics”; earlier in her career, the American Lawyer named her to its Public Sector 45 — a group of lawyers “actively using their law degrees to change lives.”

In 2019, Pam testified before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the justification for the first impeachment of then-President Donald Trump.

Pamela S. Karlan

Stanford Law School; Supreme Court Litigation Clinic

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