Farah Peterson

Farah Peterson

Professor of Law

Farah Peterson is a legal historian who focuses on the early American republic. Her scholarship on statutory interpretation and constitutional law has appeared or is forthcoming in the Yale Law Journal, Columbia Law Review, Virginia Law Review, and elsewhere.

Farah Peterson is also an essayist. Her nonfiction, including personal essays, art criticism, and social commentary, has appeared or is forthcoming in PloughsharesThe American ScholarThe Best American Magazine Writing, The Threepenny Review, and The Atlantic. Her works were selected as Notable Essays in the Best American Essays in 2018 and 2022, and she was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 2021.

Professor Peterson holds a PhD in American history from Princeton University. She earned her JD from Yale Law School and received her bachelor’s in history from Yale as well. After law school, Peterson clerked for Associate Justice Stephen Breyer on the US Supreme Court and Judge Guido Calabresi on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.


Princeton University

PhD in American History, 2015
MA in History with Distinction, 2009
Dissertation: Statutory Interpretation and Judicial Authority, 1776–1860

Yale Law School

JD, 2012
Coker Fellow, Torts with Professor Jules Coleman, Fall 2011
Teaching Assistant, Civil Procedure with Professor Owen Fiss, Fall 2010
Black Law Students Association
Fellowship for the Study of Professional Ethics at Auschwitz, Summer 2011

Yale University

BA with distinction in History, 2005


University of Chicago Law School

Professor of Law, Summer 2020–present

Georgetown University Law Center

Visiting Professor, Fall 2019

University of Virginia School of Law

Associate Professor, 2018–Spring 2020

Jones Day

Associate, Issues and Appeals, 2016–2017

Hon. Stephen G. Breyer, US Supreme Court

Law clerk, 2015–2016

Hon. Guido Calabresi, US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Law clerk, 2012–2013

Book Sections

  • "Bethany Collins, A Pattern or Practice, 2015," in Monochrome Multitudes: From Allais to Zeisler, Christine Mehring & Orianna Cacchione eds. (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming).
  • "Debtor Constitutionalism," in In Between and Across: Legal History Without Boundaries, Kenneth Mack & Jacob Cogan eds. (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
  • "The Patriot Slave," in The Best American Magazine Writing 2021, Sid Holt ed. (Columbia University Press, 2022).

Journal Articles

  • "The Fourteenth Amendment and the Vénus Noire," __ William and Mary Law Review __ (2024) (forthcoming).
  • "Our Constitutionalism of Force," 122 Columbia Law Review 1539 (2022). www
  • "Expounding the Constitution," 130 Yale Law Journal 2 (2020). www
  • "Constitutionalism in Unexpected Places," 106 Virginia Law Review 559 (2020). www
  • "Foreword," 104 Virginia Law Review Online 1 (2018) (Special Issue Responding to White Supremacists in Charlottesville.). www
  • "Interpretation as Statecraft: Chancellor Kent and the Collaborative Era of Statutory Interpretation," 77 Maryland Law Review 712 (2018). www
  • "Modernity and Regret: A Barbados Family and Its Place in the British Empire 1676–1842," 70 Princeton University Library Chronicle 369 (2009).

Other Publications

  • "Rodin's Rival," The Atlantic, 2024. www
  • "Alone with Kindred," The Threepenny Review, Fall 2023. www
  • "On Our Knees," American Scholar, September 2021. www
  • "The Patriot Slave: The Dangerous Myth that Blacks in Bondage Chose Not to be Free in Revolutionary America," American Scholar, June Summer 2020. www
  • "Black Lives and the Boston Massacre," American Scholar, Winter 2019. www
  • "Illness and Identity," Ploughshares, Winter 2016. ssrn
  • “The Fourteenth Amendment and the Vénus Noire,” James Goold Cutler Lecture, William & Mary Law School 2024
  • Moderator, ABA Panel on Issues of Concern to the Legal Profession, House of Delegates Annual Meeting 2023.
  • Distinguished Commentator, National Conference of Constitutional Law Scholars, University of Arizona, March 2023.
  • “Our Constitutionalism of Force,” University of Michigan Public Law Workshop, February 2023.
  • “Our Constitutionalism of Force,” American Bar Foundation Legal History Roundtable, May 2022.
  • Speak Mammary,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Symposium on the exhibition Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux Recast, April 2022.
  • “Judgment as Persuasion,” reflecting on “Law, Literature, and Other Performing Arts,” at an event celebrating Sanford Levinson’s 40th year at University of Texas Law, April 2022.
  • “Our Constitutionalism of Force,” Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Workshop, March 2022.
  • “The Legacy of Justice Stephen Breyer,” Illinois Judges Association, March 2022.
  • “Our Constitutionalism of Force,” University of Wisconsin Law School Faculty Workshop, March 2022.
  • “Justice Breyer’s Legacy,” National ACS and C-SPAN, February 2022.
  • “Our Constitutionalism of Force,” Legal History Forum, Yale Law School, February 2022.
  • “Expounding the Constitution,” NYU Law School Public Law Colloquium, October 2021.
  • “The Supreme Court, 1821: Looking Back on an Important Term,” Supreme Court Historical Society, October 2021.
  • “Expounding the Constitution,” Constitutional Conversations at Stanford Law School, January 2021.
  • “How Do We Interpret the Constitution?” in conversation with William Baude and Stephen Sachs at the University of Chicago Constitution Center, September 2020.
  • “The Patriot Slave,” Interview on NPR’s KERA Think, August 2020.
  • Invited Guest Lecturer, Seminar on the Framing and Ratification of the Constitution with John Mikhail and William Treanor, Georgetown University Law Center, April 2020.
  • “Uncovering the Unwritten Constitution,” Podcast Guest, Common Law, April 2020.
  • “Expounding the Constitution,” Legislation Roundtable, Yale Law School, February 2020.
  • American Constitution Society panelist, “Are We All Textualists and Originalists Now?” in conversation with Elizabeth Wydra, Victoria Nourse, and John Mikhail.
  • “Expounding the Constitution,” Salmon P. Chase Colloquium on the Constitution, Georgetown University Law Center, December 2019.
  • “Constitutionalism in Unexpected Places,” Faculty Workshop, Georgetown University Law Center, November 2019.
  • “Constitutionalism in Unexpected Places,” Legal History Workshop, University of Pennsylvania School of Law, October 2019.
  • “Interpretation as Statecraft,” Tobin Project History of American Democracy Meeting, Harvard University, July 2019.
  • “Interpretation as Statecraft,” Constitutional Law Workshop, University of Chicago School of Law, October 2018.
  • “Monuments and Memory: How the Law Writes American History,” Sherman Emerging Scholar Prize Lecture, University of North Carolina, October 2018.
  • “Debtor Constitutionalism,” Conference in Honor of Hendrik Hartog, Princeton University, October 2018.
  • Invited Guest Lecturer, Statutory Interpretation Workshop, with Professor Jonah Gelbach, University of Pennsylvania, September 2018.
  • Guest Lecturer, Seminar on Theories of Statutory Interpretation with Professor William Eskridge, Yale Law School, (recurring) February 2021, March 2019, and October 2016.
  • C-SPAN Landmark Cases panelist, McCulloch v. Maryland, February 2018.
  • “Dear Bushrod,” Podcast Guest, Oral Argument, Summer 2018.
  • “The Fourteenth Amendment and the Vénus Noire” William & Mary Law Review (forthcoming 2024)
  • “Bethany Collins, A Pattern or Practice, 2015” in Monochrome Multitudes: From Allais to Zeisler, Christine Mehring and Orianna Cacchione eds. (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming)

Memberships and Professional Affiliations

  • Board of Trustees, The Supreme Court Historical Society
  • Board of Advisors, Chicago University Press
  • Historians Council on the Constitution, The Brennan Center
  • Senior Editorial Advisor, Journal of American Constitutional History
  • Member, Legislation Section for Association for American Law Schools
  • Member, American Historical Association; Organization of American Historians; American Society of Legal Historians
  • Bar Memberships: New York; Washington, DC; Supreme Court of the United States

Awards and Honors

  • Sherman Emerging Scholar Prize, University of North Carolina, Wilmington
  • Friends of the Princeton Library Prize