Faculty Profiles

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse

L. Q. C. Lamar Professor of Law

Areas of Expertise

Children's Constitutional Law and Human Rights, Comparative and International Family Law, Constitutional Law, Child Welfare, Family Law, Adoption

Curriculum Vitae

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. Her scholarship and teaching focus on child law, child welfare, comparative and international family law, adoption, and constitutional law.

Academic Career: From 1988 to 2001, Woodhouse was professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania and cofounder and codirector of its Center for Children’s Policy Practice and Research. In 2001, Woodhouse became the first 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). In 2001, she founded and was director of Levin College of Law’s Center on Children and Families.

Practice: Before entering academia, 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.

Clerkships: Following law school, Woodhouse 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 US Supreme Court.

Scholarship and Awards: Woodhouse has published more than seventy-five articles and book chapters. Her book The Ecology of Childhood: How Our Changing World Threatens Children’s Rights, is forthcoming from New York University Press in 2020. Her book Hidden in Plain Sight: the Tragedy of Children’s Rights from Ben Franklin to Lionel Tate, from Princeton University Press 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's 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. Her recent research has focused on the comparative ecology of childhood in the U.S. and Europe. Woodhouse is an editor of the Family Court Review and Journal of Psychology, Public Policy and Law. She served on the Executive Council of the International Society for Family Law from 2000 to 2018.

Education: JD, Columbia University Law School, 1983; Diploma Superiore, Universitá per Stranieri; BA, University of the State of New York.


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

Book Chapters and Encyclopedia Entries

"Intercountry Adoption in Italy and the US.: Divergent Approaches to Privatization, Discrimination, and Subsidiarity," in Parents and Children in a Narrowing World: Issues on Adoption (lla Ferrari & Maria Donata Panforte eds., 2014).

"Comparative Perspectives," in A European Perspective on the Rights of Children and Adolescents (Vol. 4, “Minors and the New Rights,” Elena Urso ed., 2014).

"State Orphans in the United States: A Failure of Intergenerational Solidarity," in Solidarity Between Generations (Hughes Fulchiron, ed.,) (Larcier-Bruyland Press, Belgium, 2013)

"Religion and Children's Rights," in Religion and Human Rights (John Wittee, Jr. and M. Christian Green, Oxford University Press, 2011)

“'I Want to Talk to my Mom:' the Role of Parents in Police Interrogations of Juveniles," in Justice for Kids: Keeping Kids Out of the Juvenile Justice System (Nancy E. Dowd, ed., N.Y.U. Press, 2011) (with Randee Waldman and Stephen Reba)

"The Constitutional Rights of Parents and Children in U.S. Child Protective and Juvenile Delinquency Investigations," in International Survey of Family Law (Bill Atkin, ed., ) (Jordan Publishing 2011).

"Children’s Rights," in Chicago Companion to the Child (University of Chicago Press) (2010)

"Children and the Constitution," in Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States, (Macmillan/Thomson Gale Press) (2010)

Journal Articles

"Listening to Children: Participation Rights of Minors in Italy and the United States," 36 Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 358 (2014).

"I Bambini di Scanno Stanno Bene dove Stanno: Purche' Sianno Respettati i loro Diritti Umani" (The Children are Fine as Long as their Human Rights are Respected), Gazzettino della Valle del Saggittario, August 2014, 14-15.

"State Orphans" in the United States: A Failure of Intergenerational Solidarity, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-202 (2012)

"Constitutional Rights of Parents and Children in CHild Protective and Juvenile Delinquency Investigations," International Society of Family Law: North American Regional Conference (2011)

"A World Fit for Children Is a World Fit for Everyone: Ecogenerism, Feminism, and Vulnerability," 46 Houston Law Review 3 (2009)

"The Courage of Innocence: Children as Heroes in the Struggle for Justice," 2009 University of Illinois Law Review 101 (2009)

"Reflections on Loving and Children’s Rights (with Kelly Reese)," 20 University of Florida Journal of Public Policy 11 (2009).

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

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


Family Court Review Editorial Board (2000– ).

Journal of Psychology, Public Policy, and Law Editorial Board (1995– ).


“Children's Rights: The Long Road from Rhetoric to Reality,” (2015 Distinguished Lecturer) at The International Human Rights Law Institute Symposium, “Frontiers of International Human Rights: The Human Rights of Children and the Human Rights of People with Disabilities,” DePaul University College of Law, in Chicago, Illinois (March 5, 2015).

"Insights from Comparative and Sociological Analysis," at the conference “Family Rights in the Age of Juridical Pluralism,” at the Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy (November 13, 2014).

“Building Multidisciplinary Children's Centers and Institutes,” at "Our Children: An Endangered Species," Caribbean Regional Conference of the International Society of Family Law, Nassau, Bahamas (November 21, 2014).

“Children Working! Building a World Fit for Everyone,” at Rights Here, Right Now! A Conference About Children’s Rights, Wales Observatory on the Human Rights of Children and Young People, held at Swansea University, Wales (September 12, 2014).

"I Bambini di Scanno Stanno Bene Dove Stanno," presentation on the status of children's rights in Italy, August 9, 2014, at Pan dell'Orso in Abruzzo, Italy.

"La Tutela dei Diritti del Minori: Confronto tra la Legislazione Statunitense e Italiana (Protection of Children’s Rights: A Comparison of Legislation in the U.S. and Italy)," Co sponsored by the Lecce Camera Minorile and the Università di Salento, Lecce, Italia (June 2011) (Public Lecture).

"Preventive Action to Combat Family Violence and Child Abuse: The Situation in the U.S.," in symposium series on Mediazione e Prevenzione: Un Nuovo Diritto per L’Infanzia e L’Adolescenza (Mediation and Prevention: A New Right for Children and Adolescents), Università degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Dirittto Comparato, Firenze, Italia (April 2010) (Public Lecture).

Court-based Mediation in Cases of Alleged Child Abuse and Neglect in the U.S., in symposium series Mediazione e Famiglia (Mediation and the Family), Università degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Dirittto Comparato, Firenze, Italia (April 2010) (Public Lecture).