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Law - United-States

Research topics


Public Law



Corresponding with recent political shifts in the United States, hate speech and incidents of overt racism, xenophobia, and islamophobia are on the rise, particularly on university campuses. These events highlight a constitutional crisis--the competing principles of free expression and equality. My project seeks to examine the similarities and differences in underlying principles of neutrality undergirding the concept of freedom of expression in the United States and of republicanism and secularism in France. The myth of neutrality embedded in U.S. constitutional principles of free expression may leave out those who experience hate-filled speech as dignitary, indeed physical, harm. This project seeks to engage in a comparative scholarly examination of the different regulatory regimes addressing ethnically and religiously divisive and discriminatory expression in the French and U.S. contexts through research and work with fellow public law research team of the Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3. I am particularly interested in identifying variables through socio-legal research that may be applicable to such work in the U.S.

Activities / Resume


Lia Epperson is a Professor of Law and former Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs at American University Washington College of Law. A nationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights, constitutional law, and education policy, her scholarship centers on the constitutional dialogue between federal courts and the political branches, and its implications for educational equity. Her scholarship, published in leading journals, also explores the role of public schools, colleges, and universities in creating equal opportunity. Prior to her appointment at American University, she served on the law faculties of the University of Maryland and Santa Clara University. She has also served as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, focusing on federal civil rights enforcement of educational policies and practices. Professor Epperson's research interests are informed by her experiences litigating education cases throughout the country, and lobbying for the maintenance and enforcement of civil rights protections. Prior to becoming a law professor in 2005, Dean Epperson directed the education law and policy group of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF). While there, she litigated in federal and state courts, advocated for federal administrative and legislative reforms, and co-authored multiple amicus briefs to the United States Supreme Court in the areas of education and affirmative action. In addition, she represented LDF in several national civil rights leadership coalitions. Prior to her time at LDF, Professor Epperson was an attorney with Morrison & Foerster in Palo Alto, CA, and a law clerk to the Honorable Timothy K. Lewis of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She received her law degree from Stanford University, where she served as an editor of the Stanford Law Review as well as the Stanford Law and Policy Review. She earned her bachelor's degree in sociology, magna cum laude, from Harvard University.


  • Civil Rights Remedies in Higher Education: Jurisprudential Limitations and Lost Moments in Time, 23 Washington & Lee J. of Civil Rights & Social Justice 343 (2017).
  • Public Law, Housing, Remedies: A Comparative Analysis of French and U.S. Law, 3 Remedies and Property 47 (2017) (coauthored).
  • Privacy in a Digital Age, in Privacy in a Digital Age: Perspectives from Two Continents 141 (Carolina Academic Press, 2017) (coauthored).
  • Beware the Unintended Consequences: Government Transparency, Racial Data Collection, and Minority Rights in the United States and Abroad, International J. of Open Governments 297 (2016).
  • The Durability of Housing Inequality: Federal Executive and Legislative Power in Remedying Racialized Residential Space, 2 Remedies and Property 57 (2015).
  • Brown’s Dream Deferred: Lessons on Democracy and Identity from Cooper v. Aaron to the “School to Prison Pipeline,” 49 Wake Forest L. Rev. 687 (2014).
  • The Promise and Pitfalls of Empiricism in Educational Equality Jurisprudence, 48 Wake Forest L. Rev. 489 (2013).
  • Bringing the Market to Students? School Choice and Vocational Education in the 21st Century, 87 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1861 (2012).
  • Legislating Inclusion, 6 Harv. L. & Pol. Rev. 801 (2012).
  • Equality Dissonance: Jurisprudential Limitations and Legislative Opportunities, 7 Stan. J. C. R. C. L. 101 (2011).
  • New Legal Perspectives: Implications for Diversity in the Post-Grutter Era, in Diversity in American Higher Education: Toward a More Comprehensive Approach (Lisa M. Stulberg and Sharon L. Weinberg eds., Routledge Press 2011).
  • Undercover Power: Examining the Role of the Executive Branch in Determining the Meaning and Scope of School Integration Jurisprudence, 10 Berkeley J. of African-American L. & Pol. 146 (2008).
  • Racial Discrimination in Education, in The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion (Richard A. Shweder ed., U. Chi. Press 2009).
  • The Rehnquist Court, the Resurrection of Plessy and the Elusive Definition of “Societal Discrimination,” in Awakening From the Dream: Pursuing Civil Rights in a Conservative Era (Denise C. Morgan et al. eds., Carolina Acad. Press 2006).
  • True Integration: Advancing Brown’s Goal of Educational Equity in the Wake of Grutter, 67 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 175 (2005) (quoted in numerous amicus briefs to U.S. Supreme Court in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education).
  • Resisting Retreat: A Trench-Level View of the Struggle for Equity in Educational Opportunity in the Post-Brown Era, 66 U. Pitt L. Rev. 131 (2005).
  • Biography of Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, in African American Lives (Henry Louis Gates & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham eds., Oxford Univ. Press 2004).
  • Brief for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and the American Civil Liberties Union as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents, Grutter v. Bollinger, reprinted in 5 Rutgers Race & L. Rev. 149 (2003) (coauthored).