Kim Forde-Mazrui

  • Mortimer M. Caplin Professor of Law
  • Director, Center for the Study of Race and Law

Kim Forde-Mazrui joined the law faculty of the University of Virginia in 1996, and was promoted to full professor in 2001. He teaches Constitutional Law, Employment Discrimination, Criminal Law, and Race and Law. His scholarship focuses on equal protection, especially involving race and sexual orientation. His publications have considered what role race should play in placing children for adoption; whether and how to select racially and other demographically diverse juries; whether affirmative action policies that employ race-neutral means are constitutional; whether America is morally obligated to remedy past discrimination; and whether racial profiling and other discriminatory practices by law enforcement are adequately deterred by current constitutional doctrines. His scholarship has also examined the parallels between historical arguments against interracial relationships and contemporary arguments against same-sex relationships, as well as the role of tradition as a justification for banning same-sex marriage. His articles have been published in several prestigious law journals, including the University of Chicago Law Review, the California Law Review, the Michigan Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, and the Georgetown Law Journal. The hallmark of Forde-Mazrui's approach is to take seriously the conflicting perspectives on controversial issues, and to offer constructive proposals to move society beyond current, often intractable, debates.

Forde-Mazrui earned his B.A. in philosophy, summa cum laude, from the University of Michigan in 1990, and his J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School in 1993. During law school, the Michigan Law Review selected him and subsequently promoted him to notes editor. The law school's clinical faculty awarded him the Carl Gussin Memorial Prize for excellence in trial advocacy, and he won both the Law School and Regional ABA Client Counseling Competitions. He also volunteered as a student-attorney with the Family Law Project, an organization providing legal services to battered women. At graduation, the faculty elected Forde-Mazrui to the Order of the Coif and granted him the law school's highest honor, the Henry M. Bates Memorial Scholarship, “awarded to outstanding seniors in the Law School, account being taken of scholarship in both undergraduate and legal studies, personality, character, extracurricular interests, and promise of a distinguished career.”

After law school, Forde-Mazrui served a year as judicial clerk to Judge Cornelia G. Kennedy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He then practiced two years at Sidley & Austin in Washington, D.C. He is admitted to practice law in Michigan, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

At Virginia, Forde-Mazrui has also served as the Barron F. Black Research Professor and the Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Research Professor of Law. In 2003, he was appointed the inaugural director of the Center for the Study of Race and Law. The Black Law Students Association has twice awarded him the Service to BLSA Award. UVA’s Office of Equal Opportunity Programs named him an “EOP Champion” in 2009, and UVA selected him as the winner of the 2013 John T. Casteen III Diversity-Equity-Inclusion Leadership Award.

Scholarship Profile: Examining Race and Law (Virginia Journal 2005)


  • J.D.
    The University of Michigan Law School
  • A.B.
    University of Michigan


Racial Justice and Law: Cases and Materials (with Ralph Richard Banks, Guy-Uriel E. Charles & Cristina M. Rodríguez), Foundation (2016).

Book Chapters

The Transition to Law School: Yes, You Can, in Lawyers, Lead On: Lawyers with Disabilities Share Their Insights, American Bar Association, 13–17 (2011).

Articles & Reviews

Why the Equal Rights Amendment Would Endanger Women’s Equality: Lessons from Colorblind Constitutionalism, 16 Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy 1–63 (2021).
Calling Out Heterosexual Supremacy: If Obergefell Had Been More Like Loving and Less Like Brown, 25 Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law 281–301 (2018).
The Canary-Blind Constitution: Must Government Ignore Racial Inequality?, 79 Law & Contemporary Problems 53–88 (2016).
Tradition as Justification: The Case of Opposite-Sex Marriage, 78 University of Chicago Law Review 281–343 (2011).
From Proposition 209 to Proposal 2: Examining the Effects of Anti-Affirmative Action Voter Initiatives: Symposium Panel (with Christina Whitman et al.), 13 Michigan Journal of Race & Law 461–504 (2008).
Ruling out the Rule of Law, 60 Vanderbilt Law Review 1497–1557 (2007).
Learning Law Through the Lens of Race, 21 Journal of Law & Politics 1–30 (2005).
The Constitutional Implications of Race-Neutral Affirmative Action, 88 Georgetown Law Journal 2331–2398 (2000).

Op-Eds, Blogs, Shorter Works

Do We Need the Equal Rights Amendment Today? (with Sean Fischer & Cathi Herrod), Divided We Fall (July 5, 2021).
The ERA's Threat to Sex Equality, The Gender Policy Report (July 14, 2020).
A Liberal Case Against the Equal Rights Amendment, Richmond Times-Dispatch 17A (January 16, 2020).
Tradition and Equal Protection, The Legal Workshop (June 3, 2011).

Current Courses

All Courses

Advanced Race and Law Projects
Constitutional Law
Criminal Adjudication
Criminal Law
Employment Discrimination
Race and the Law (seminar)
Seminar in Ethical Values
What Lawyers Can Learn From the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.




The Affirmative Action Cases at the Supreme Court

Featured Scholarship