Main content

Fred Smith Jr.

Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law

Areas of Expertise

Constitutional Law, Constitutional Litigation, Federal Courts


Constitutional Law, Constitutional Litigation, Federal Courts


Fred Smith Jr. is a Professor of Law at Emory University. He is a scholar of the federal judiciary, constitutional law, and local government. In 2019 and 2022, he was named the law school’s Outstanding Professor of the Year.

Smith clerked for Judge Myron Thompson of the Middle District of Alabama; Judge Barrington D. Parker Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; and Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the United States Supreme Court. Prior to teaching, he also worked for Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore LLP in Atlanta.

Smith's research focuses on accountability, federal jurisdiction, and state sovereignty. His work has appeared, or will appear, in Columbia Law Review, Harvard Law Review, Michigan Law Review, New York University Law Review, Notre Dame Law Review, Stanford Law Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, and Vanderbilt Law Review, among other academic journals. Representative works include: “Reconstructing Klein,” 90 U. Chi. L. Rev. __ (2023) (with Helen Hershkoff); “Policing Mass Incarceration,” 135 Harv. L. Rev. 1853 (2022); “On Time, (In)equality, and Death,” 120 Mich. L. Rev. 195 (2021); “The Constitution After Death,” 121 Colum. L. Rev. 1471 (2020); “Abstention in the Time of Ferguson,” 131 Harv. L. Rev. 2283 (2018); and "Local Sovereign Immunity," 116 Colum. L. Rev. 409 (2016). He has given lectures on related topics across the United States and internationally, including in Istanbul, Shanghai, and Warsaw. He also has been interviewed as an expert by major media outlets, including CNN, CBS News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Time Magazine, Esquire Magazine, Court TV, and National Public Radio.

In a range of volunteer capacities, Smith promotes equity and social justice. He serves on the board of Invest Atlanta, which serves as the economic and community development authority of City of Atlanta. He also serves the national board of Lambda Legal; the national board of Civil Rights Corps; and the LGBT Advisory Board of Historic Atlanta. He served as an inaugural member of Atlanta’s Mayoral LGBTQ Advisory Board. He also served as an inaugural advisory board member for the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project, which annually trains black Atlanta youth in critical thinking and public speaking.

Education : J.D., Stanford Law School; B.A. (with honors), Harvard College.