Sylvia A. Law

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Sylvia A. Law is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law, Medicine and Psychiatry and the Co-Director of the Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program at New York University School of Law.


Law was born in Minnesota in 1942 and attended public schools in Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana. She earned her B.A. (1964) from Antioch College, and her J.D. (1968) from New York University School of Law.

For three decades, Law has been one of the nation's leading scholars in the fields of health law, women's rights, poverty, and constitutional law. She has played a major role in dozens of civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and in lower state and federal courts, and has testified before Congress and state legislatures on a range of issues. In 1984, Law became the first lawyer in the United States selected as a MacArthur Prize Fellow. She has been active in the Society of American Law Teachers, served as president of the organization from 1988-1990 and was honored by the organization as Law Teacher of the Year in 2001. In 2004, Prof. Law was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013 she was honored by the creation of the Sylvia A. Law Fellowship in Economic Justice as part of the Hays Civil Liberties Program at NYU Law School.

She lives in New York City, Woodstock, New York and Kailua, Hawaii. Her son, Benjamin Ensminger-Law was born in 1977 and is a banker in New York City.

Representative Publications[edit]

  • "Commercial Sex: Beyond Decriminalization," 73 California Law Review 526 (2000)
  • "White Privilege and Affirmative Action," 32 Akron Law Review 603 (1999)
  • "Sex Discrimination and Insurance for Contraception," 73 Washington Law Review 363 (1998)
  • "Homosexuality and the Social Meaning of Gender," 1988 Wisconsin Law Review 187 (1998)
  • "Ending Welfare as We Know It," 49 Stanford Law Review 471 (1997)
  • Law and the American Health Care System (1997)
  • "Physician Assisted Death: An Essay on Rights and Remedies," 55 Maryland Law Review 292 (1996)
  • "Crystal Eastman: NYU Law Graduate," 66 New York University Law Review 1963 (1991)
  • "Rethinking Sex and the Constitution," 132 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 955 (1984)
  • "Women, Work, Welfare and the Preservation of Patriarchy," 131 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1249 (1983)
  • Pain and Profit: The Politics of Malpractice (1978)
  • Blue Cross: What Went Wrong? (2nd ed. 1976)