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Melissa Saunders

Professor of Law


  • J.D. (Armour Law Scholar, Order of the Coif), University of Virginia (1987)
  • B.A. (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), Yale University (1983)

Saunders grew up in Chapel Hill. After graduating from law school, she served as law clerk first to Judge J. Dickson Phillips Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and then to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist of the United States Supreme Court. She then practiced law for three years in the litigation department of Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A. in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1993, she returned to Chapel Hill to serve a second term as law clerk to Judge Phillips and to teach part-time at the Law School. She joined the law school faculty on a full-time basis in 1994. She was the 1997 recipient of the McCall Teaching Award. Her principal research and teaching interests are constitutional law, federal jurisdiction, civil procedure, civil rights, and election law.

Selected Publications

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  • A Cautionary Tale:  Hunt v. Cromartie and the Next Generation of Shaw Litigation, 1 ELECTION L.J. 173 (2002). [Document Link]
  • Of Minority Representation, Multiple Race Responses, and Melting Pots: Redistricting in the New America, 79 N.C. L. REV. 1367 (2001). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • Reconsidering Shaw: The Miranda of Race-Conscious Districting, 109 YALE L.J. 1603 (2000). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • The Dirty Little Secrets of Shaw, 24 HARV. J.L. & PUB. POL'Y 141 (2000). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • Equal Protection, Class Legislation, and Color-Blindness, 96 MICH. L. REV. 245 (1997). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
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