Mari Matsuda

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Mari J. Matsuda (born 1956) is an American lawyer, activist, and law professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii. Matsuda returned to Richardson in the fall of 2008. Prior to her return to Hawaii, Matsuda was a professor at the UCLA School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center, specializing in the fields of torts, constitutional law, legal history, feminist theory, critical race theory, and civil rights law.


Matsuda obtained her High School Diploma from Roosevelt High School in Hawaii, B.A. from Arizona State University, her J.D. from the University of Hawaii, and her LL.M., Harvard. She was an associate at the labor law firm of King & Nakamura in Honolulu and was law clerk to Judge Herbert Young Cho Choy of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She is of Okinawan ancestry.

She became the first tenured female Asian American law professor in the United States, at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law in 1998. Before joining the faculty at UCLA, she was professor of law for eight years at the University of Hawaii School of Law, teaching American Legal History, Torts, Constitutional Law, Civil Rights, and Sex Discrimination. Professor Matsuda has also taught at Stanford Law School and the University of Hiroshima and served as a judicial training consultant in Micronesia and South Africa. She is a self-described as an "activist scholar." Her intellectual influence extends beyond law reviews (she authored three entries on a Yale Law School librarian's list of the ten most-cited law review articles) to include articles in academic and popular journals such as Amerasia Journal and Ms. Magazine. She is one of the leading voices in critical race theory since its inception. Her publications on reparations and affirmative action are frequently cited.

As a frequent keynote speaker, she has lectured at major universities. As a board member of the Chevron-Texaco Task Force on Equality and Fairness, she coauthored its final report in 2002, and she received the 2003 Society of American Law Teachers Human Rights Award at the Association of American Law Schools Conference.

She has served as a judicial training consultant in countries as diverse as Micronesia and South Africa, and her work is quoted by Supreme Court Justices.[citation needed] For Matsuda, community is linked to teaching and scholarship. She serves on national advisory boards of social justice organizations, including the ACLU, the National Asian Pacific Legal Consortium, and Ms. Magazine. She was recognized by Ms. Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Asian Americans for her representation of Manuel Fragante accent discrimination case, and others.[citation needed] Judge Richard Posner lists Mari Matsuda as among those scholars most likely to have lasting influence.[citation needed]

Selected bibliography[edit]


  • And Charles R. Lawrence, III, We Won't Go Back: Making the Case for Affirmative Action (Houghton Mifflin 1997).
  • Where Is Your Body? And Other Essays on Race, Gender and Law (Beacon Press 1996).
  • And Charles R. Lawrence, III, et al., Words That Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech, and the First Amendment (Westview Press 1993).
  • Called From Within: Early Women Lawyers of Hawaii (Mari J. Matsuda ed., University of Hawaii Press 1992).

Book chapters[edit]

  • "Beyond and Not Beyond, Black and White: Deconstruction Has a Politics," in Crossroads, Directions, and a New Critical Race Theory 393 (Francisco Valdes et al. Eds., Temple U. Press 2002).
  • "Civil Society," in Essays on Civil Society (Virginia Hodgkinson & Mark Warren eds., forthcoming).
  • "Law and Culture in the District Court of Honolulu, 1844-1845: A Case Study of the Rise of Legal Consciousness," in 2 Asian Indians, Filipinos, Other Asian Communities, and the Law 190 (Charles McClain ed., Garland Pub. 1994) (reprinting 32 Am. J. Legal Hist. 16 (1988)).
  • "Harriet Bouslog," in Called From Within: Early Women Lawyers of Hawaii 148 (Mari J. Matsuda ed., University of Hawaii Press 1992).

Journal articles[edit]

  • "Who is Excellent," 1 Seattle J. Soc. Just. 29 (2003).
  • "I and Thou and We and the Way to Peace," Issues Legal Scholarship (Aug. 2002), available at
  • "What Would It Take to Feel Safe?," 27 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 78 (2001/2002).
  • "Asian Americans and the Peace Initiative," 27/28 Amerasia J. 141 (2001/2002).
  • Et al., "Symposium: Building a Multiracial Social Justice Movement, Questions from the Audience," 27 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 82 (2001/2002).
  • "Planet Asian America," 8 Asian L.J. 169 (2001).
  • "Foreword: Homophobia as Terrorism," 1 Geo. J. Gender & L. 1 (1999).
  • "McCarthyism, the Internment and the Contradictions of Power," 40 B.C. L. Rev. 9 (1999).
  • "Opinion: Guilt by Admissions," Ms., June/July 1999, at 29 (discussing feminism and affirmative action).
  • "Crime and Affirmative Action," 1 J. Gender Race & Just. 309 (1998).
  • "Were You There? Witnessing Welfare Retreat (In Memory of Professor Trina Grillo)," 31 U.S.F. L. Rev. 779 (1997).
  • "Merit Badges for the Revolution," Ms., Aug./Sep. 1997, at 94.
  • "Is Hawaii America's Tomorrow?," Address at Harvard University, Holoimua, Hawaii (1997).
  • "The Keynote Address: Progressive Civil Liberties," 3 Temple Pol. & Civ. Rts. L. Rev. 9 (1993-1994).
  • "We Will Not Be Used," UCLA Asian Am. Pac. Islands LJ, now known as: UCLA Asian Pac. Am. LJ (1993).
  • "When the First Quail Calls: Multiple Consciousness as Jurisprudential Method," 14 Women's Rts. L. Rep. 297 (1992).
  • "Besides My Sister, Facing the Enemy: Legal Theory Out of Coalition," 43 Stan. L. Rev. 1183 (1991).
  • "Voices of America: Accent, Antidiscrimination Law and Jurisprudence for the Last Reconstruction," 100 Yale L.J. 1329 (1991)
  • "Public Response for Racist Speech: Considering the Victim’s Story," 87 Mich. L. Rev. 2320 (1989)
  • "Looking to the Bottom: Critical Legal Studies and Reparations," 22 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties L. Rev. 323 (1987)