Martha Ruth Mahoney

Professor of Law
Dean's Distinguished Scholar; Social Justice/Public Interest Concentration Affiliated Faculty

(305) 284-5869
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Martha Mahoney is Professor and Dean’s Distinguished Scholar at the University of Miami School of Law. A former community organizer, she was a founding member of the San Francisco Women's Health Collective, served as volunteer coordinator in New Orleans for the United Farm Workers boycotts, and worked in offices and factories. Her master's thesis in history at Tulane University focused on public housing, race, and economic development in New Orleans. She graduated from Stanford Law School in 1989 and clerked for Judge Warren J. Ferguson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals before arriving at Miami in 1990. Her legal scholarship focuses on law and social change. In January 2015, the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) honored Professor Mahoney with the annual Great Teacher Award.

She is co-author (with John Calmore and Stephanie Wildman) of CASES AND MATERIALS ON SOCIAL JUSTICE: PROFESSIONALS, COMMUNITIES AND LAW, SECOND EDITION (Thomson/West 2013). She has written extensively in the area of domestic violence and feminist theory, and in the area of race, class, and development. Her recent work on the intersection of class theory and race emphasizes the ways in which law made solidarity difficult for American workers while the ideology of white privilege helped conceal the divisive role of law.

Professor Mahoney’s articles on economic and racial inequality include: What’s Left of Solidarity: Reflections on Law, Race, and Labor History, 57 Buffalo Law Review 1515 (2009); Democracy Begins at Home: Notes from the Grassroots on Lawyers, Voters, and Inequality, 63 University of Miami Law Review 1 (2008); Class and Status in American Law: Race, Interest, and the Anti-Transformation Cases, 76 Southern California Law Review 799 (2003), and Constructing Solidarity: Interest and White Workers, 2 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Labor and Employment Law 747 (2000). Within this field, her work on housing and urban development includes: Whiteness and Remedy: Under-Ruling Civil Rights in Walker v. Mesquite, 85 Cornell Law Review 1309 (2000); Segregation, Whiteness, and Transformation, 143 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1659 (1995), and Law and Racial Geography: Public Housing and the Economy in New Orleans, 42 Stanford Law Review 1251 (1990).

Professor Mahoney’s work in criminal law began with an effort to resolve problems involving domestic violence and claims of self-defense and expanded to include feminist theory and challenges to social change. Her published work on violence against women, feminist theory, and criminal law includes Oppression or Victimization? Women’s Lives, Violence, and Agency, in Martha Albertson Fineman and Roxanne Mykitiuk, eds., The Public Nature of Private Violence (1994), Whiteness and Women, In Practice and Theory: A Reply to Catharine MacKinnon, 5 Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 217 (1993), EXIT: Power and the Idea of Leaving in Love, Work, and the Confirmation Hearings, 65 University of Southern California Law Review 1283 (1992), and Legal Images of Battered Women: Redefining the Issue of Separation, 90 Michigan Law Review 1 (1991). Governor Lawton Chiles appointed her to serve on the Domestic Violence Review Panels consulting for the Florida Parole Commission on domestic violence issues in petitions for clemency.

She has served as Chair of both the Poverty Law Section (2005) and the Property Law section (1999) of the Association of American Law Schools. From 2001-2005, she was a member of the Board of Governors of the Society of American Law Teachers. After the 2002 election brought Florida’s second consecutive voting crisis, she worked for years with citizen activists, lawyers, and civil rights groups in the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, a local organization that became a model for civic engagement and a leading voice in work on election technology, voting rights, and equality for minority language voters.

Her current work-in-progress returns to self-defense law: Why Didn’t We Leave? Expert Evidence, the Legal Profession, and Failure to Move on from a “Syndrome” Framework for Intimate Partner Violence. She is also working on a book, THE HOLLOW HEART OF THE PUBLIC/ PRIVATE DISTINCTION: CLASS, RACE AND LAW, and continuing research on mortgage foreclosures and on the complex legal issues and national security problems of electronic and internet voting.

Professor Mahoney teaches courses on Property, Criminal Law, Law and Social Justice, Election Law, and (since 2011) the Mortgage Crisis; she has also taught Land Use and seminars on Race, Class and Inequality, Domestic Violence, and Race and Urban Development.



1989J.D. , Stanford Law School
1985M.A. , Tulane University