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.

Professor Shapiro is a frequent guest and commentator in the media. Recent appearances have include MSNBCNational Public RadioC-SPAN’s Washington JournalSky News Daily PodcastNBC News NowCBC Radio, 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.

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



The Language of Neutrality in Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, 123 Dickinson Law Review (forthcoming).

Numbers, Motivated Reasoning, and Empirical Legal Scholarship, 63 Buffalo Law Review 385 (2016).

Claiming Neutrality and Confessing Subjectivity in Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, 88 Chicago-Kent Law Review 455 (2013).

The Context of Ideology: Law, Politics, and Empirical Legal Scholarship, 75 Missouri Law Review 79 (2010).

Coding Complexity: Bringing Law to the Empirical Analysis of the Supreme Court, 60 Hastings Law Journal 477 (2009).

The Limits of the Olympian Court: Common Law Judging versus Error Correction in the Supreme Court, 63 Washington & Lee Law Review 271 (2006).

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J.D. Certificate Program in Public Interest Law

Media Appearances

Chicago-Kent Professor Carolyn Shapiro Offers Analysis of Supreme Court's Wedding Website Case

A Christian graphic designer’s objection to making websites for same-sex weddings has landed before the Supreme Court, which could allow commercial businesses serving the public to discriminate based on sexual orientation. “I don't know of a situation where rights have been recognized and then the court moved away from them,” said Carolyn Shapiro, constitutional law professor at Chicago-Kent.

WGN Radio

Constitutional Law Professor Carolyn Shapiro Discusses Supreme Court Case Moore v. Harper

State constitutions set rules for federal elections, such as requiring votes by ballot instead of by voice, even under the Articles of Confederation that preceded the Constitution, said constitutional law professor Carolyn Shapiro. “There’s nothing in the contemporaneous materials to suggest that anybody intended” what proponents of the independent state legislature theory contend.

New York Times