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 an associate professor of law at the Law School, an associate professor of law and public policy at the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, 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 Atlantic, FiveThirtyEight, 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 stations.

Cope is currently pursuing a series of research initiatives related to the decision-making and attitudes of legal and political actors. The first initiative investigates how legal rules affect citizens’ attitudes toward domestic immigration policies. In a second initiative on multilateral treaty-making, his co-author and he apply a theoretical model to negotiating data collected from the archived records of the last few decades’ most significant conventions. The authors hope the methods will eventually assist international officials in designing more effective treaty-making processes across issue areas. A third initiative develops the first judicial ideology measure covering nearly the entire federal judiciary.

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

Revise and Resubmit

“Legal Labels and the Social Perception of Displaced Africans in Israel” (with Shiri Krebs), (revise and resubmit, Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies).

“Migrant-Family Separation and the Diverging Normative Force of International Law and Constitutional Law” (with Charles Crabtree) (revise and resubmit, Journal of Legal Studies)  


The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Immigration Law (Kevin L. Cope, Stella Burch Elias, and Jill Goldenziel eds.) (Oxford University Press, 1st ed. forthcoming 2022)      

Published and Forthcoming Articles and Essays

“The Global Evolution of Foreign Relations Law” (with Pierre Verdier and Mila Versteeg), Am. J. Int’l L. (forthcoming 2021).

“The Limits of Information Revelation in Multilateral Negotiations: A Theory of Treatymaking”  (with James D. Morrow), J. of Theoretical Pol. (forthcoming 2021).

“Knowing the Law” (with Charles Crabtree), Uni. Chi. L. Rev. Online (2021). 

“A Nationalist Backlash to International Refugee Law: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Turkey” (with Charles Crabtree), 17(4) J. Empirical Legal Stud. 752 (2020). 

“Empirical Studies of Human Rights Law” (with Cosette D. Creamer and Mila Versteeg), 15 Ann. Rev. L. & Soc. Sci. 155 (2019). 

“Patterns of Disagreement in Indicators of State Repression” (with Charles Crabtree and Christopher J. Fariss), 6 Political Science Research & Methods 178 (2019).

“Beyond Physical Integrity” (with Charles Crabtree and Yonatan Lupu), 81 Law. & Contemp. Probs. (2018). (conclusion to special issue) 

“Disaggregating the Human Rights Treaty Regime” (with Cosette D. Creamer),  56 Va. J. Int’l L. 459 (2016).
HeinOnline (PDF)

“Congress’s International Legal Discourse,” 113 Michigan L. Rev. 1115 (2015).

“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).

Edited Volume Chapters 

“The Concept and Measure of Rights,” in The Oxford Handbook on Comparative Human Rights Law (Neha Jain and Mila Versteeg eds., forthcoming Oxford University Press 2022). 
“Theoretical and Measurement Challenges,” in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Judicial Behaviour (Lee Epstein et al. eds., forthcoming Oxford University Press 2022) .
“National Legislatures: The Foundations of Comparative International Law” (with Hooman Movassagh) in Comparative International Law (Anthea Roberts et al. eds., Oxford University Press 2017).
“Treaty Law and National Legislative Politics,” in Research Handbook on the Politics of International Law (Wayne Sandholtz and Christopher Whytock eds., Edward Elgar, 2017). 
“Reconceptualizing Recognition Uniformity,” in Foreign Court Judgments and the U.S. Legal System (Paul Stephan ed., Brill, 2014). 
Book Reviews
Review Essay: “The Interpretation of International Law by Domestic Courts” (with Mila Versteeg), (Helmut Philipp Aust and Georg Nolte eds., Oxford University Press 2016), 111 Am. J. Int'l. L. 538 (2017). 
Working Papers 
“The Normative Force of Higher-Order Law: Evidence from Six Countries During the COVID-19 Pandemic” (with Adam Chilton, Charles Crabtree, and Mila Versteeg), (under review) 
“An Expert-Sourced Measure of Judicial Ideology” (with Charles Crabtree)
“The Rhetoric of Immigration Enforcement” (with Loren Collingwood and Charles Crabtree) 
“The Logic of Treatymaking”

Current Courses

All Courses

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




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