portrait of Martha Davis

Professor Martha Davis teaches Constitutional Law, US Human Rights Advocacy and Professional Responsibility. She is a faculty director for the law school’s Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy and the NuLawLab. In 2015-2016, she held the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI), Lund University, in Lund, Sweden. She continued her work with RWI in 2017-2018, when she received a Fulbright Specialist Award, and she is now an affiliated scholar of the institute. She is also a member of the expert committee for HumanRight2Water, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization that advocates for water and human rights.

Professor Davis has written widely on human rights, women’s rights and social justice issues. Most recently, she co-edited Covid-19 and Human Rights (Routledge, 2021) (co-editor), Research Handbook on Poverty and Human Rights (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021) (co-editor) and  Global Urban Justice: The Rise of Human Rights Cities (Cambridge, 2016), the first book-length scholarly treatment of the human rights cities movement. She is co-author of the first law school textbook focused on domestic human rights: Human Rights Advocacy in the United States (West, 3d ed. 2023), and she co-edited Bringing Human Rights Home, a three-volume work chronicling the U.S. human rights movement. In 2008, Bringing Human Rights Home was named one of the “best books in the field of human rights” by the US Human Rights Network. Professor Davis’s book, Brutal Need: Lawyers and the Welfare Rights Movement (Yale University Press, 1995), received the Reginald Heber Smith Award for distinguished scholarship on the subject of equal access to justice, and was also honored by the American Bar Association in its annual Silver Gavel competition. Professor Davis’ articles have appeared in the Yale Law Journal, the North Carolina Law Review, Fordham Law Review, Washington & Lee Law Review, and many others. She received the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) 2021 William R. Boggess Award for her co-authored paper “An Experiment in Making Water Affordable: Philadelphia’s Tiered Assistance Program (TAP),” which was published in the March 2020 issue of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association. Professor Davis is a contributing editor of the Law Professors’ Network Human Rights at Home blog.

Prior to joining the law faculty in 2002, Professor Davis was vice president and legal director for the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. As a women’s rights practitioner, she was counsel in a number of cases before the US Supreme Court, including Nguyen v. INS, a challenge to sex-based citizenship laws that Professor Davis argued before the court. Professor Davis has also served as a fellow at the Bunting Institute, as the first Kate Stoneman Visiting Professor of Law and Democracy at Albany Law School, a Soros Reproductive Rights Fellow, a fellow at the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School and fellow of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

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