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Gene R. Nichol

Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity


  • J.D. (Order of the Coif), University of Texas at Austin (1976)

Gene Nichol is Boyd Tinsley Distinguished professor and Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. He teaches courses in constitutional law and federal courts. From 2005-2008, Nichol was the 26th president of the College of William and Mary. He was Burton Craige professor and dean of the law school at UNC from 1999-2005; law dean at the University of Colorado from 1988-1995; and James Cutler professor and director of the Bill of Rights Institute at William & Mary from 1985-1988. Nichol founded the Byron White Center of Constitutional Law at the University of Colorado and the Center for Civil Rights at UNC.

Nichol is co-author of FEDERAL COURTS (West, 2d edition, 2011)(with Wells, Marshall & Yackle) and contributing author of WHERE WE STAND: Voices of Southern Dissent (NewSouth, 2004). He has published articles and essays in the Supreme Court Review, and the Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Duke and Virginia law reviews. From 1998-1999, he was a political columnist for the Denver-Rocky Mountain News. He's been a monthly op-ed writer for the Raleigh News & Observer for over a decade; and he is author of "Seeing the Invisible" a year-long series on North Carolina poverty for the News & Observer appearing throughout 2013. His editorials are occasionally distributed nationally by the American Forum. He also writes frequently for The Progressive Populist; and has published in the Washington Post, The Nation, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. From 1994-1995, he was host of a public affairs television show, Culture Wars, for KBDI in Denver.

Nichol has been significantly involved in public affairs. In 1991, he was appointed special master by a three-judge federal court in Colorado to mediate a redistricting dispute between the governor and the legislature. The accord was ratified by statute. A year later he helped lead the Colorado Reapportionment Commission. He chaired (2004) the North Carolina Bi-Partisan Commission on Lobbying Reform. Legislation was passed enacting commission recommendations. He ran unsuccessfully for national political office while in Colorado. He has been elected to membership in the American Law Institute and the American Bar Foundation Fellows.

In 2003, Nichol received the ABA's Edward Finch Award for delivering the nation's best Law Day address. In 2004, he was named Carolina's Pro Bono Professor of the Year. The next year, Governor Easley inducted Nichol into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina's highest civilian honor; and Equal Justice Works named him Pro Bono Law School Dean of the year. In 2008, he received Oklahoma State University's Distinguished Alumnus Award; the "Courage To Do Justice Award" from the National Employment Lawyers Association; and the Thomas Jefferson Award, for courage in the defense of religious liberty, from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. In 2013, Nichol received the "Faith Active in Public Life" Award from the North Carolina Council of Churches, the NC-ACLU named him recipient of its W.W. Finlator Award, and the University of North Carolina gave him its prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award.    

Nichol attended Oklahoma State University, where he received a degree in philosophy (1973) and played varsity football. He obtained his J.D. from the University of Texas, graduating Order of the Coif, in 1976. 

Selected Publications

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  • Racialized Criminal Justice, PROGRESSIVE POPULIST, January 1, 2013. [Document Link]
  • Rankings, Economic Challenge, and the Future of Legal Education, 61 J. LEGAL EDUC. 345 (2012). [Westlaw, SSRN, Hein, Document Link]
  • CASES AND MATERIALS ON FEDERAL COURTS (with M. Wells, G. Nichol and L. Yackle) (West 2nd ed.; American Casebook Series 2011). [KF8718 .W45 2011]
  • Not a Winn-Win: The Establishment Clause and Taxpayer Standing, 2011 SUP. CT. REV. 215 (2011). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN]
  • Wages, Work, Privilege, and Legal Education 5 HARV. L. & POL'Y REV. 1 (2011). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN, Hein, Document Link]
  • Book Review, Establishing Inequality (reviewing Martha Nussbaum, LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE: IN DEFENSE OF AMERICA'S TRADITION OF RELIGIOUS EQUALITY (2008)), 107 MICH. L. REV. 913 (2009). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN, Hein KF4783 .N87 2008]
  • Ripeness and the Constitution, 54 U. CHI. L. REV. 153 (1987). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • Injury and the Disintegration of Article III, 74 CAL. L. REV. 1915 (1986). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • Abusing Standing: A Comment on Allen v. Wright, 133 U. PA. L. REV. 635 (1985). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • Rethinking Standing, 72 CAL. L. REV. 68 (1984) (reprinted in LOUIS FISHER, AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (1990) and THOMAS O. SARGENTICH, ADMINISTRATIVE LAW ANTHOLOGY (1994)). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
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