Kevin Cope

  • Associate Professor of Law
  • Associate Professor of Law and Public Policy, Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy
  • Affiliated Faculty, Department of Politics

Kevin Cope is a legal scholar and political scientist whose research investigates legal and political decision-making using empirical, comparative, and formal theoretical methods. Substantively, he is most interested in immigration, international political economy, human and civil rights, and judicial ideology. Cope is the past co-president of the Society for Empirical Legal Studies and a co-editor of the inaugural Oxford University Handbook on Comparative Immigration Law.

Cope’s work is published or forthcoming in journals such as the Journal of Legal Studies, Journal of Theoretical Politics, Political Science Research and Methods, Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Michigan Law Review and American Journal of International Law.

His short articles have appeared in The AtlanticFiveThirtyEight, The Washington Post Monkey Cage and Slate. Cope has been interviewed about his research on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and on local radio and television stations.

Before joining the Law School faculty in 2019, Cope served as a judicial clerk to judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and two federal trial courts. He also practiced government enforcement litigation law in Washington, D.C., with Skadden, Arps. In law school, he served as an editor of the Northwestern University Law Review. Cope earned a J.D. from Northwestern University in 2004 and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan in 2020.



  • Ph.D.
    University of Michigan
  • LL.M.
    Georgetown University Law Center
  • J.D.
    Northwestern University School of Law
  • B.A.
    Ohio State University


Oxford Handbook of Comparative Immigration Law (edited with Stella Burch Elias & Jill Goldenziel), in Stella Burch Elias & Jill Goldenziel, eds., , Oxford University Press (1 ed. 2023).
Unpacking the Rule of Law: An Experimental Approach (with Mila Versteeg), Emory Law Journal (2023).

Works in Progress

An Expert-Sourced Measure of Judicial Ideology (with Charles Crabtree) (2021).
Estimating State Interest From Treaty Negotiations (with Kevin McAlister & James D. Morrow).
Immigration Law as Foreign Relations (with David Leblang), Oxford University Press.
The Rhetoric of Immigration Enforcement (with Loren Collingwood & Charles Crabtree).

Book Chapters

National Legislatures: The Foundations of Comparative International Law (with Hooman Movassagh), in Comparative International Law, Oxford University Press, 271–291 (2018).
Treaty Law and National Legislative Politics, in Research Handbook on the Politics of International Law, Edward Elgar, 116–148 (2017).
Constitutions (with Mila Versteeg), in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Elsevier, 710–715 (2 ed. 2015).
Reconceptualizing Recognition Uniformity, in Foreign Court Judgments and the U.S. Legal System , Brill Nijhoff, 166–178 (2014).
South Sudan’s Dualistic Constitution, in The Social & Political Foundations of Constitutions , Cambridge University Press, 295–321 (2013).

Articles & Reviews

Methods for Comparative Migration Law: Insights From the Social Sciences, 7 International Journal of Migration and Border Studies 166–181 (2023).
Vaccine Passports as a Constitutional Right (with Ilya Somin & Alexander Stremitzer), 54 Arizona State Law Journal 505–572 (2022).
Migrant-Family Separation and the Diverging Normative Force of Higher-Order Laws (with Charles Crabtree), 51 Journal of Legal Studies 403–426 (2022).
Can Rights Discourse Diminish Support for Displaced Persons? (with Shiri Krebs), 20 Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies 279–292 (2022).
The Global Evolution of Foreign Relations Law (with Pierre-Hugues Verdier & Mila Versteeg), American Journal of International Law 1–67 (2021).
The Limits of Information Revelation in Multilateral Negotiations: A Theory of Treatymaking (with James Morrow), Journal of Theoretical Politics 1–31 (2021).
Knowing the Law (with Charles Crabtree), The University of Chicago Law Review Online (2021).
A Nationalist Backlash to International Refugee Law: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Turkey  (with Charles Crabtree), 17 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 752–788 (2020).
Patterns of Disagreement in Indicators of State Repression (with Charles Crabtree & Christopher J. Fariss), 8 Political Science Research & Methods 178–187 (2020).
Empirical Studies of Human Rights Law (with Cosette D. Creamer & Mila Versteeg), 15 Annual Review of Law & Social Science 155–182 (2019).
Beyond Physical Integrity (with Charles Crabtree & Yonatan Lupu), 81 Law & Contemporary Problems 185–195 (2018).
Disaggregating the Human Rights Treaty Regime (with Cosette D. Creamer), 56 Virginia Journal of International Law 459–480 (2016).
Review of The Interpretation of International Law by Domestic Courts (with Mila Versteeg) (reviewing Helmut Philipp Aust & Georg Nolte, The Interpretation of International Law by Domestic Courts: Uniformity, Diversity Convergence) 111 American Journal of International Law 538–544 (2016).
Congress’s International Legal Discourse, 113 Michigan Law Review 1115–1174 (2015).
Lost in Translation: The Accidental Origins of Bond v. United States, 112 Michigan Law Review First Impressions 133–141 (2013).
The Intermestic Constitution: Lessons from the World's Newest Nation, 53 Virginia Journal of International Law 667–724 (2013).

Op-Eds, Blogs, Shorter Works

Rethinking Responsibility for Refugees, JOTWELL (July 1, 2021).
The Constitution Requires the U.S. to Offer Vaccine Passports (with Alexander Stremitzer), (May 4, 2021).
Red and Blue America Agree That Now Is the Time to Violate the Constitution (with Adam Chilton, Charles Crabtree & Mila Versteeg), The Atlantic (March 25, 2020).
It’s Hard to Find a Federal Judge More Conservative than Brett Kavanaugh (with Joshua Fischman), Washington Post (September 5, 2018).
For a Trump Nominee, Neil Gorsuch’s Record Is Surprisingly Moderate on Immigration (with Joshua Fischman), FiveThirtyEight (March 27, 2017).

Current Courses

All Courses

Constitutional Law and Economics
Immigration Law
The Law of Treaties
Federal Judicial Process
Appellate Litigation Clinic




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