Christopher W. Schmidt

Professor Christopher W. Schmidt
Professor of Law
Associate Dean for Faculty Development
Co-Director of the Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States
Norman and Edna Freehling Scholar
565 W. Adams St., Room 755
Chicago, IL 60661


  • J.D., Harvard Law School
  • Ph.D., Harvard University
  • M.A., Harvard University
  • B.A., Dartmouth College


A member of the Chicago-Kent faculty since 2008, Professor Schmidt teaches in the areas of constitutional law, legal history, comparative constitutional law, and sports law. He has written on a variety of topics, including the historical development of the Fourteenth Amendment, the history of Brown v. Board of Education, the Tea Party as a constitutional movement, how Supreme Court Justices communicate with the American people, and the rise of free agency in Major League Baseball. He has published in leading law reviews and peer-review journals, among them Constitutional Commentary, Cornell Law Review, Law and History Review, Northwestern University Law Review, and UCLA Law Review. His article Divided by Law: The Sit-Ins and the Role of the Courts in the Civil Rights Movement won the 2014 Association of American Law Schools' Scholarly Papers Competition and the 2016 American Society for Legal History Surrency Prize.

Professor Schmidt is the author of The Sit-Ins: Protest and Legal Change in the Civil Rights Era (University of Chicago Press, 2018). He is currently working on a new book project, Civil Rights: An American History, which examines how Americans have struggled over the meaning of civil rights from the Civil War through today.

Professor Schmidt earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School, a Ph.D. in American studies and an M.A. in history from Harvard University, and a B.A. from Dartmouth College. Professor Schmidt is also a faculty fellow at the American Bar Foundation, where he serves as the editor of Law & Social Inquiry, one of the leading peer-review journals in sociolegal studies.




Legal History and the Problem of the Long Civil Rights Movement, 41 Law & Social Inquiry 1081 (2016) (review essay).

On Doctrinal Confusion: The Case of the State Action Doctrine, 2016 BYU Law Review 575.

The Civil Rights–Civil Liberties Divide, 12 Stanford Journal of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties 1 (2016).

Beyond Backlash: Conservatism and the Civil Rights Movement, 56 American Journal of Legal History 179 (2016).

Litigating Against the Civil Rights Movement, 86 University of Colorado Law Review 1173 (2015).

Divided by Law: The Sit-Ins and the Role of the Courts in the Civil Rights Movement, 33 Law and History Review 93 (2015) (winner of the 2016 American Society for Legal History Surrency Prize and the 2014 Association of American Law Schools Scholarly Paper Prize).

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