Deborah Hellman

Deborah Hellman

Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law
F. Palmer Weber Research Professor of Civil Liberties and Human Rights
Director, Center for Law & Philosophy
(434) 243-9123

Deborah Hellman joined the Law School in 2012 after serving on the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Law since 1994. She is the director of UVA Law’s Center for Law & Philosophy.

There are two main strands to Hellman’s work. The first focus is on equal protection law and its philosophical justification. She is the author of When Is Discrimination Wrong? (Harvard University Press, 2008) and co-editor of The Philosophical Foundations of Discrimination Law (Oxford University Press, 2013) and several articles related to equal protection. The second strand focuses on the relationship between money and legal rights. This includes articles on campaign finance law, bribery and corruption, each of which explore and challenge the normative foundations of current doctrine. Her article "A Theory of Bribery" won the 2019 Fred Berger Memorial Prize (for philosophy of law) from the American Philosophical Association. In 2020 she won the Association of American Law Schools Section on Jurisprudence Article Award for “Measuring Algorithmic Fairness,” which was published in the Virginia Law Review. 

In addition, she writes about the obligations of professional roles, especially in the context of clinical medical research. She teaches constitutional law, legal theory and contracts, as well as advanced classes and seminars on questions related to these fields (Discrimination Theory, Profiling and Contract Theory, for example). 

Hellman was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2005-06) and the Eugene P. Beard Faculty Fellow in Ethics at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University (2004-05). She was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Teachers in 1999 and was a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2007-08 and at the University of Virginia in the fall of 2011.

Scholarship Profile: Drilling Down on Discrimination and Equality (Virginia Journal 2013)

All Courses

Constitutional Law


Profiling (Seminar)

Money and Rights (Seminar)

Constitutional Law II: The Law and Theory of Equal Protection



Conceptions of Professional Role (Seminar)

Featured Scholarship