Barbara Bennett Woodhouse

L.Q.C. Lamar Professor of Law and
Faculty Advisor, Barton Child Law and Policy Center

Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Expertise
Children’s Rights, Family Law, Constitutional Law


Barbara Bennett Woodhouse is among the nation’s foremost experts on children’s rights. She joined the Emory Law faculty in 2009 as the L.Q.C. Lamar Chair in Law. She also serves as faculty advisor for the Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic. Her scholarship and teaching focus on child law, child welfare, comparative and international family law and constitutional law.

Academic Career: From 1988-2001, Woodhouse was a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder and co-director of its Center for Children’s Policy Practice and Research. In 2001, Woodhouse became the first the David H. Levin Chair in Family Law at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law (she is currently the David H. Levin Chair Emeritus). She was founder and director of Levin College of Law’s Center on Children and Families.

Practice: Before entering the academy, Woodhouse was a litigator at the New York firm of Debevoise and Plimpton. During her academic career, she has participated in numerous appellate cases raising issues of adoption, custody and juvenile justice, and has authored or co-authored influential amicus briefs in many appellate courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. She is a member of the Bar of the State of New York and of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Education and Clerkships: Woodhouse received her JD from Columbia University Law School in 1983 where she served as notes and comments editor of the law review. Following law school, she clerked for the Honorable Abraham D. Sofaer of the Southern District of New York and, in OT ’84, was law clerk to Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. Woodhouse received her bachelor’s degree from the University of the State of New York and earned her Diploma Superiore from the Universita’ per Stranieri in Perugia, Italy.

Scholarship and Awards: Woodhouse has published more than 60 articles and book chapters and her recent book from Princeton University Press, Hidden in Plain Sight: the Tragedy of Children’s Rights from Ben Franklin to Lionel Tate won the American Political Science Association’s 2009 award for best book on Human Rights. She was named a Human Rights Hero by the ABA Journal on Human Rights in 2005. In 2008, she gave the David C. Baum Lecture on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights at University of Illinois. She was awarded a Fernand Braudel Senior Fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy in 2007-2008.  Woodhouse is an editor of the Family Court Review and she was recently re-elected to a fourth term as a member of the Executive Council of the International Society for Family Law.


Barbara Bennett Woodhouse



Hidden in Plain Sight: The Tragedy of Children’s Rights from Ben Franklin to Lionel Tate (Princeton University Press 2008)

Book Chapters

Advocating for Children’s Rights in a Lawless Nation: Articulating Rights for Foster Children (with Brooke Hardy), in Fineman and Worthington, What is Right for Children? The Competing Paradigms of Religion and Human Rights (Ashgate 2009).

The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: Empowering Parents to Protect Their Children’s Rights (with Kathryn A. Johnson) in Fineman and Worthington, eds.,What is Right for Children? The Competing Paradigms of Religion and Human Rights (Ashgate 2009).

Cleaning Up Toxic Violence: An EcoGenerist Paradigm, in Nancy E. Dowd et al, Handbook on Children, Culture & Violence (Sage 2006)

The Family Supportive Nature of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, in Jonathan Todres et al, The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: An Analysis of Treaty Provisions and Implications of U.S. Ratification (Transnational Publishers 2006)

The Changing Status of the Child, in Jonathan Todres et al, The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: An Analysis of Treaty Provisions and Implications of U.S. Ratification (Transnational Publishers 2006)

Revisioning Rights for Children in Rethinking Childhood 229 (Pufall et al, eds. Rutgers Press 2004)

Children’s Rights in Gay and Lesbian Families: A Child-Centered Perspective in Child, Family & State 273 (Nomos Vol. XLIV) (Macedo et al, eds, NYU Press 2003)

Child-Centered, Vertically Structured and Interdisciplinary, in Family Law: Processes, Practices and Pressures (Dewar et al, eds., Hart Pub.2003)

Making Poor Mothers Fungible: The Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Privatization of Foster Care, in Child-Care and Inequality: Re-Thinking Carework for Children and Youth 83 (Cancian et al, eds., Routledge Press 2002).

Children’s Rights, in Handbook on Youth and Justice, (Susan White, ed., Plenum Press 2001).

The Status of Children: A Story of Emerging Rights in Cross-Currents: Family Law in England and the United States 423 (Eekelar & Katz, eds., Oxford University Press 2000).

The Adoption and Safe Families Act: A Major Shift in Child Welfare Law and Policy, The International Survey of Family Law 375 (Family Law 2000).

Constitutional Interpretation and the Reconstitution of the Family in the United States and South Africa in The Changing Family: Family Forms and Family Law (John Eekelaar and Thandabantu Nhlapo, eds., 1998).

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: Cultural and Political Barriers to Ratification by the USA, in Contemporary International Law Issues: New Forms, New Applications (T.M.Asser Institute, the Netherlands, 1998).

Protecting Children’s Rights of Identity Across Frontiers of Culture, Political Community and Time, in Families Across Frontiers (Martinus Nijhoff Press 259 (1996)

Poor Mothers, Poor Babies: Law, Medicine, and Crack in Child, Parent & State: Law & Policy Reader (Temple Press 1994).

William Dameron Guthrie: The Case of the New York Conservative and the Birth of Fundamental Family Liberties in New York and the Union: Contributions to the American Constitutional Experience (Schecter & Bernstein, eds. 1990).

Law Reviews

The Courage of Innocence: Children as Heroes in the Struggle for Justice, 2009 U. Ill. L. Rev. 101.

Reflections on Loving and Children’s Rights (with Kelly Reese), 20 U. Fl. J. Pub. Pol’y 11 (2009).

Individualism and Early Childhood in the U.S.: How Culture and Tradition Have Impeded Evidence-Based Reform, 8 J. Korean L. 97 (2008).

Race, Culture, Class and the Myth of Crisis: an Ecogenerist Perspective on Child Welfare, 81 St. John’s Law Review 519 (2007)

Waiting for Loving: The Child’s Fundamental Right to Adoption, 34 Capital U. L. Rev. 297 (2005)

Martyrs, Media and the Web: Examining a Grassroots Children’s Rights Movement Through the Lens of Social Movement Theory, 5 Whittier J. Child & Fam. Advoc. 121 (2005).

Ecogenerism: An Environmentalist Approach to Protecting Endangered Children, 12 Va. J. of L. & Soc. Policy 409 (2005)

Foreword, Beyond Brown: Children, Race, and Education, 16 U.F. J. L. Pub. Pol. 1 (2005)

Reframing the Debate about the Socialization of Children: An Environmentalist Paradigm, 2004 Chicago Law Forum 85 (2004)

Defending Childhood: Developing a Child-Centered Law and Policy Agenda, 1 Fl. J. L. & Pub. Pol. 1 (2003)

Enhancing Children’s Participation in Policy-Making, 45 Ariz. L. Rev. 751 (2003)

Speaking Truth to Power: Challenging “The Power of Parents to Control the Education of their Own,” 11 Cornell J. L. & Pub. Pol. 481 (2002)

Child-Centered, Vertically Structured, and Interdisciplinary: An Integrative Approach to Children’s Policy, Practice & Research, 40 Fam. Ct. Rev. 116 (2002) (with Steinberg and Cowan)

Horton Looks at the ALI Principles, 4 Utah J. Law & Fam. Stud. 151 (2002)

Talking About Children’s Rights: Children’s Interests in Judicial Custody and Visitation Decision-Making, 36 Fam. L. Q. 105-133 (2002)

Troxel v. Granville: Implications for At Risk Children and the Amicus Curiae Role of University-Based Interdisciplinary Centers for Children, 32 Rutgers Law Journal 857 (2001).

Youthful Indiscretions: Culture, Class Status, and the Passage to Adulthood, 51 DePaul L. Rev. 743 (2001)

Dred Scott’s Daughters: Nineteenth Century Urban Girls at the Intersections of Race and Patriarchy, 48 Buffalo L. Rev. 669 (2000).

Protecting Children’s Relationships with Extended Family: The Impact of Troxel v. Granville, 19 ABA Child Law Practice (July 2000).

The Hidden Children: Motivating Stories Behind the Struggle for Human Rights, 14 St. John’s J. of Legal Comment. 331 (2000).

Child Custody in the Age of Children’s Rights, 33 Fam. L. Q. 815 (1999) (Millennium Issue: Family Law at the Turn of the Twentieth Century).

The Dark Side of Family Privacy, 67 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1247 (1999).

Reforming the Presumption of Paternity: Proceed with Caution, 21 PA. Fam. Lawyer (1999).

The Constitutionalization of Children’s Rights: Incorporating Emerging Human Rights into Constitutional Doctrine, 2 U. PA. J. Const. L. 1 (1999).

Recognizing Children’s Rights: Lessons from South Africa, 26 Human Rights 15 (1999).

From Property to Personhood: A Child-Centered Perspective on Parents’ Rights, 5 Georgetown J. Fighting Poverty 313 (1998).

Book Review of William G. Ross, Forging New Freedoms: Nativism, Education, and the Constitution, 1919-1927, Vol. XL Am. J. Legal Hist. 382 (1996).

“It All Depends on What You Mean By Home:” Toward a Communitarian Theory of the Nontraditional Family, 1996 Utah L. Rev. 569.

Regulating the Internet: Should Pornography Get a Free Ride on the Information Superhighway? A Panel Discussion (with Marci A. Hamilton, Mike Godwin, Richard Kurnit, Nadine Strossen), 343 Cardozo Arts & Entertainment L. J. 343 (1996).

A Public Role in the Private Family: The Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act and the Politics of Child Protection and Education, 57 Ohio St. L. J. 393 (1996).

Of Babies, Bonding, and Burning Buildings: Discerning Parenthood in Irrational Action, Va. L. Rev. 2493 (1996).

“Are You My Mother?”: Conceptualizing Children’s Identity Rights in Transracial Adoptions, 2 Duke J. of Gender L. & Poly. 107 (1995).

Home Visiting and Family Values: The Powers of Conversation, Touching, and Soap, 143 U. Pa. L. Rev. 253 (1994).

Afterword: Deconstructing Solomon’s Dilemma, 26 U. Conn. L. Rev. 1525 (1994)

Sex, Lies, and Dissipation: The Discourse of Fault in a No-Fault Era, 82 Georgetown L. J. 2525 (1994) (with comments by Katherine T. Bartlett).

Property and Alimony in No-Fault Divorce, Am. J. of Comp. L. 175 (Supp. 1994).

“Out of Children’s Needs, Children’s Rights:” The Child’s Voice in Defining the Family, 8 B.Y.U. J. of Pub. L. 321-341 (1994).

Mad Midwifery: Bringing Theory, Doctrine, and Practice to Life, 91 Mich. L. Rev. 1977 (1993).

Hatching the Egg: A Child-Centered Perspective on Parents’ Rights, 14 Cardozo L. Rev. 1746 (1993).

Children’s Rights: The Destruction and Promise of Family, 1993 B.Y.U. L. Rev. 497 (1993).

Making Fathers Play, 22 Contemp. Sociology 575 (July 1993)(Review of Maccoby and Mnookin, Dividing the Child (1992))

“Who Owns the Child?”: Meyer and Pierce and the Child as Property, 33 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 995 (1992).

Towards a Revitalization of Family Law, 69 Texas L. Rev. 245 -290(1990) (Review Essay on Mary Ann Glendon, The Transformation of Family Law: State, Law, and Family in the United States and Western Europe (1989)).

Encyclopedia Entries

Children’s Rights, Chicago Companion to the Child (University of Chicago Press)

Children and the Constitution, Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States, (Macmillan/Thomson Gale Press)

Selected Opinion Pieces and Commentary

Let’s Treat Kids as Kids, with Dr. Annie Steinberg, Nat’l L. J., Nov. 8, 1999 (opposing trend to try increasingly young children for adult crimes).

Remember Our Own War Zone Children, Phila. Inq., December 1995 (Op Ed on Bosnia and needs of poor American children)

Will the Nation Abandon its Poor Children? Phila. Inq., March 1995(Op Ed on welfare reform proposals)

Our Failure, Jessica’s Pain, Phila. Inq., August 1993 (Op Ed on adoption reform)

Uncle Sam Exploits Moms, Too, Phila. Inq., February 18, 1993(Op Ed on Nannygate)


Barbara Bennett Woodhouse

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