Martha Minow

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Martha Minow
1 martha minow commencement 2010 harvard.JPG
12th Dean of Harvard Law School
In office
July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2017
Preceded byElena Kagan
Succeeded byJohn Manning
Personal details
Martha Louise Minow

(1954-12-06) December 6, 1954 (age 66)
Highland Park, Illinois, U.S.
Spouse(s)Joseph W. Singer
Alma materUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor (BA)
Harvard University (MEd)
Yale University (JD)
WebsiteOfficial bio

Martha Louise Minow (born December 6, 1954)[1][2][3] is an American legal scholar and the 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University. She served as the Dean of Harvard Law School between 2009 and 2017 and has taught at the Law School since 1981. Minow was one of the candidates mentioned to replace U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens upon his retirement.[4][5] She has been called "one of the world's leading human rights scholars" and "one of the world's leading figures in bringing legal ideas and scholarship to bear on issues of identity, race and equality, including innovative approaches to reconciliation among divided peoples."[6][7]


Minow is the daughter of former Federal Communications Commission chairman Newton Minow, and his wife, Josephine (Baskin) Minow. Minow is Jewish.[8][9] She graduated from New Trier Township High School in Illinois in 1972.

Minow received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan (1975), her master's degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (1976), and her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Yale Law School (1979), where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal.[10]

After graduating from law school, Minow clerked for Judge David L. Bazelon of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court.[11]

She joined the Harvard Law faculty as an assistant professor in 1981, was promoted to professor in 1986, was named the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of Law in 2003, and became the Jeremiah Smith Jr., Professor of Law in 2005. Minow became Dean of Harvard Law School July 1, 2009.[12] She is also a lecturer in the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

On June 30, 2017, Minow stepped down from her post as Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law. From 2017 to 2018, she served as Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence.[13] In 2018, she assumed her current position as the 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University.

Works, honors, and recognition[edit]

Martha Minow and then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan at Harvard Law School

Minow served on the Independent International Commission on Kosovo and helped to launch Imagine Co-existence, a program of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, to promote peaceful development in post-conflict societies. Her five-year partnership with the federal Department of Education and the Center for Applied Special Technology worked to increase access to the curriculum for students with disabilities and resulted in both legislative initiatives and a voluntary national standard opening access to curricular materials for individuals with disabilities. She has worked on the Divided Cities initiative which is building an alliance of global cities dealing with ethnic, religious, or political divisions.[14]

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama said, "When I was at Harvard Law School I had a teacher who changed my life -- Martha Minow."[15] In August 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Dean Minow to the board of the Legal Services Corporation, a bi-partisan, government-sponsored organization that provides civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The U.S. Senate confirmed her appointment on March 19, 2010, and she now serves as Vice-Chair and co-chair of its Pro Bono Task Force.[16][17]

She is a former member of the board of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Iranian Human Rights Documentation Center, and former chair of the Scholar's Board of Facing History and Ourselves. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences since 1992, Minow has also been a senior fellow of Harvard's Society of Fellows, a member of Harvard University Press Board of Syndics, a senior fellow and twice acting director of what is now Harvard's Safra Foundation Center on Ethics, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society. She has delivered more than 70 named or endowed lectures and key-note addresses.[14]

In 2020, Minow spoke with the podcast Criminal in their episode, "Learning How to Forgive."[18]

Selected works[edit]

  • When Should Law Forgive?, Norton (Sept. 2019, ISBN 978-0-393-08176-3).
  • The First Global Prosecutor: Promise and Constraints, with C. Cora True-Frost and Alex Whiting, editors. (University of Michigan Press, 2015, ISBN 978-0-472-07251-4).
  • In Brown's Wake: Legacies of America's Constitutional Landmark. (Oxford University Press, 2010)
  • Government by Contract: Outsourcing and American Democracy. (Jody Freeman & Martha L. Minow eds., Harvard University Press, 2009)
  • Just Schools: Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference. (Martha Minow, Richard A. Shweder, and Hazel Markus, Editors; Russell Sage Foundation, 2008)
  • "Living Up to Rules: Holding Soldiers Responsible for Abusive Conduct and the Dilemma of the Superior Orders Defence". 52 McGill Law Journal 1 (2007)
  • "Tolerance in an Age of Terror". 16 University of Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 453 (2007)
  • "Should Religious Groups Ever Be Exempt From Civil Rights Laws?" 48 Boston College Law Review 781 (2007)
  • "Outsourcing Power: How Privatizing Military Efforts Challenges Accountability, Professionalism, and Democracy". 46 Boston College Law Review 989 (2005)
  • Partners, Not Rivals: Privatization and the Public Good. (2002)
  • Engaging Cultural Differences. (ed. with Richard Shweder and Hazel Markus, 2002)
  • Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History After Genocide and Mass Violence. (1998)
  • Not Only For Myself: Identity, Politics, and Law. (1997)
  • Making All the Difference: Inclusion, Exclusion, and American Law. (1990)
  • "Law Turning Outward". Telos, 73 (Fall 1987)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marquis Who's Who on the Web
  2. ^ "Harvard Law School". Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2010-10-16.
  3. ^ "Candidates to replace Justice John Paul Stevens". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
  4. ^ "Names added to Supreme Court short list". CNN. April 12, 2010.
  5. ^ "Candidates to replace Justice John Paul Stevens". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ Brief of Amici Curiae Professors of Constitutional Law, Center for Constitutional Rights, and National Lawyers Guild in Support of Respondent at 1a, Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426 (2004) (No. 03-1027).
  7. ^ "Martha Minow". Retrieved 2020-09-24.
  8. ^ Jewish Women's Archive Blog Published June 12, 2009. Accessed December 2015.
  9. ^ Haaretz Published March 9, 2013. Accessed December 2015.
  10. ^ Martha L. Minow
  11. ^ Martha Minow Named New Dean of Harvard Law School « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law School, Law Suits, Judges and C...
  12. ^ Martha Minow Appointed Dean of Harvard Law School | Harvard Magazine
  13. ^ Dean Martha Minow: Biography
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ Samuel Gordon, "Obama and the Jews: An Inside Perspective", Shalom Hartman Institute (November 23, 2008)
  16. ^ "Obama taps Martha Minow, John G. Levi for Legal Service Corporation Board". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2011-10-16.
  17. ^ "Report of the Pro Bono Task Force". Legal Services Corporation. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  18. ^ "Learning How to Forgive". Criminal. May 1, 2020.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Elena Kagan
Dean of Harvard Law School
Succeeded by
John F. Manning