Kevin Cope

  • Associate Professor of Law

Kevin Cope is an associate professor of law at the Law School and faculty affiliate at the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics.

Cope’s research focuses on the measurement of legal and political phenomena. Substantively, he is most interested in the law and politics of international institutions, migration, and relationships between domestic institutional structure and international behavior. 

Cope’s work is published or forthcoming in journals such as the Michigan Law Review, Political Science Research and Methods, American Journal of International Law, Law and Contemporary Problems and Virginia Journal of International Law, and in books published by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and others. His short articles have appeared in The Washington PostFiveThirtyEight, LSE United States Politics & Policy Blog and Slate.

Cope is currently pursuing a series of research initiatives related to the decision-making and attitudes of legal and political actors. In an initiative on multilateral treaty-making, he applies a theoretical model (related to co-authored work with James D. Morrow) to negotiating data collected from the archived records of the last few decades’ most significant conventions. Cope hopes the methods will eventually assist international officials in designing more effective treaty-making processes across issue areas. A second initiative (with Charles Crabtree) investigates how legal rules affect citizens’ attitudes toward domestic immigration policies. A third initiative (with Adam Feldman) develops the first judicial ideology measure covering nearly the entire federal judiciary. The authors hope that those data will allow researchers to address important questions about judging and judicial behavior that were previously intractable due to data limitations.

Before coming to the Law School, Cope served as a federal judicial clerk for judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Northern District of Ohio and the Court of Federal Claims. He also practiced government enforcement litigation law in Washington, D.C., with Skadden, Arps, where he handled matters involving treaties, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, immigration law, the World Bank and the U.S. Constitution. In law school, he served as an editor of the Northwestern University Law Review.


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

Revise and Resubmit

"A Nationalist Backlash to International Refugee Law: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Turkey" (with Charles Crabtree) (revise and resubmit at the Journal of Legal Studies).

"The Limits of Information Revelation in Multilateral Negotiations: A Theory of Treatymaking" (with James D. Morrow) (revise and resubmit at International Organization).

Articles and Essays

"Beyond Physical Integrity" (with Charles Crabtree and Yonatan Lupu), 81 Law. & Contemp. Probs. (2018).
"Patterns of Disagreement in Indicators of State Repression" (with Charles Crabtree & Christopher J. Fariss) 6 Political Science Research and Methods__ (2019).
Book Review of The Interpretation of International Law by Domestic Courts (Helmut Philipp Aust & Georg Nolte, eds. (Oxford University Press 2016)) (with Mila Versteeg), 111 Am. J. Int'l L. (2017)
"Disaggregating the Human Rights Treaty Regime" (with Cosette D. Creamer) 56 Va. J. Int’l L. 463 (2017).
HeinOnline (PDF)
"Congress’s International Legal Discourse," 113 Mich. L. Rev. 1115 (2015).
  • Excerpted in Curtis A. Bradley & Jack L. Goldsmith, Foreign Relations Law: Cases and Materials (5th ed. 2014) (Dec. 2016 supplement).
  • Reprinted as O Discurso Jurídico Internacional do Congresso Estadunidense, Seqüência: Estudos Jurídicos e Políticos 37 (74), 19–96.

"Lost in Translation: The Accidental Origins of Bond v. United States," 112 Mich. L. Rev. (First Impressions) 133 (2014).

"The Intermestic Constitution: Lessons From the World’s Newest Nation," 53 Va. J. Int’l L. 667 (2013).

Book Chapters

"Treaty Law and National Legislative Politics," in Research Handbook on the Politics of International Law (Wayne Sandholtz & Christopher Whytock, eds., Edward Elgar, 2017).

"Comparative International Law in National Legislatures" (with Hooman Movassagh) in Comparative International Law (Anthea Roberts et al., eds., Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2017).

"Reconceptualizing Recognition Uniformity," in Foreign Court Judgments and the U.S. Legal System (Paul Stephan, ed., Brill, 2014).

"South Sudan’s Dualistic Constitution," in The Social & Political Foundations of Constitutions (D.J. Galligan et al., eds., Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Working Papers

"The Rhetoric of Immigration Enforcement" (with Charles Crabtree).

"Conceptualizing and Measuring Repression" (with Charles Crabtree).

"Estimating Judicial Traits Using Text Analysis of Expert Evaluations" (with Charles Crabtree and Adam Feldman).

Works in Progress

"Investigating Attitudes Toward Immigrant Family Separation" (with Charles Crabtree)

"Alliance-Forming in Treaty Negotiations" (with James D. Morrow).

"Non-immigrant Visas as Foreign Policy" (with David Leblang).

"The Empirical Study of Rights and Institutions" (with Cosette D. Creamer and Mila Versteeg), 14 Ann. Rev. L. & Soc. Sci. (forthcoming 2018).

"Estimating State Interest From Treaty Negotiations" (with Charles Crabtree and James D. Morrow).


Current Courses

All Courses

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


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