Carolyn Shapiro

Associate Dean for Academic Administration and Strategic Initiatives, Co-Director of the Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States, Professor of Law

Professor Shapiro is the founder and co-director of Chicago-Kent's Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States (ISCOTUS). Her scholarship is largely focused on the institutions of our constitutional democracy, in particular the Supreme Court, and how those institutions interact, and has appeared in numerous law reviews. She teaches classes in constitutional law, legislation and statutory interpretation, and public interest law and policy. She directs Chicago-Kent's Public Interest Certificate Program and is also the faculty director of the Constitutional Democracy Project, a civic education project that provides programs, professional development, and educational materials to high school and middle school teachers and students. In April 2023, she delivered the Keynote Address at the 31st Annual Ira C. Rothberger Conference at the University of Colorado Law School.

Professor Shapiro is a frequent guest and commentator in the media. She's appeared on MSNBCNational Public RadioC-SPAN’s Washington JournalSky News Daily PodcastNBC News NowCBC Radio, Strict Scrutiny Podcast, and many Chicago news outlets. Her commentary has been featured in the Washington PostThe HillCNN, and SCOTUSblog, among other places, and she has been quoted in numerous news articles in publications ranging from Reuters to NBCNews to the Chicago Tribune to to Bloomberg. More recent media appearances can be found at the bottom of this page.

From 2014 through mid-2016, Professor Shapiro served as Illinois solicitor general while on leave from Chicago-Kent. She has argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Seventh Circuit, the Illinois Supreme Court, and the Illinois Appellate Courts, and she maintains a small appellate practice, serving as Of Counsel to Schnapper-Casteras PLLC.

Professor Shapiro is also a member of the Board of Advisors for the Chicago Lawyers' Chapter of the American Constitution Society and the Board of Advisors for the American Constitution Society’s State Attorneys General Project. In June 2017, the Chicago Lawyers’ Chapter of ACS awarded Professor Shapiro the Abner Mikva Award.

Professor Shapiro was a law clerk for then-Chief Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and for Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the United States Supreme Court. Prior to coming to Chicago-Kent in 2003, she worked as an associate with Miner, Barnhill & Galland, where she handled plaintiff civil rights cases, and as a Skadden Fellow with the National Center on Poverty Law.

She earned a B.A. with general and special honors in English from the University of Chicago, an M.A. from the University of Chicago Harris Graduate School of Public Policy, and a J.D. (high honors) from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was articles editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif.


J.D., University of Chicago Law School
M.A., University of Chicago, Harris Graduate School of Public Policy
B.A., University of Chicago


Professor Shapiro's published works can be found on her SSRN page.


J.D. Certificate Program in Public Interest Law

Media Appearances

Chicago-Kent Professor Carolyn Shapiro Disagrees With Decision on Web Designer's Refusal to Serve Same-Sex Couples, but Thinks She Has Standing

"Though I think the (Supreme Court) opinion is misguided in many ways, I do think she has standing," said Carolyn Shapiro, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law. She noted that Smith had sought what's known as a pre-enforcement challenge, in which she argued that her right to free speech was being chilled by a Colorado state law. "She’s saying I want to do something that's definitely against the law in Colorado. I think that’s probably enough for a pre-enforcement challenge," Shapiro said.

NBC News