Robert J. Cottrol

Portrait of Robert J. Cottrol
Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, District Of Columbia 20052
[email protected]

Robert J. Cottrol joined the law school faculty in 1995 as a visiting professor of law and legal history.  Previously, he had taught at Rutgers University and Boston College, and had visited at the University of Virginia.  Professor Cottrol is a specialist in American and Comparative Legal History.  He also teaches criminal law.  In addition to being the Harold Paul Green Research Professor in the Law School, he is also Professor of History and Sociology in the Columbian College at George Washington University.  His writings on law and history have appeared in the Yale Law Journal, the Georgetown Law Journal, the Boston University Law Review, the Texas Law Review, American Quarterly and the Latin American Research Review among other journals.  His writings have been cited in opinions in the United States Supreme Court and the Third and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals among other courts.

Professor Cottrol’s first book, The Afro-Yankees: Providence’s Black Community in the Antebellum Era, was selected by Choice as an outstanding academic book for 1983.  He is the editor of Gun Control and the Constitution: Sources and Explorations on the Second Amendment which was a Book of the Month selection by the History Book Club.  He was also the editor of From African to Yankee: Narratives of Slavery and Freedom in Antebellum New England.  Professor Cottrol’s co-authored book Brown v. Board of Education: Caste, Culture and the Constitution won the Langum Project Prize for Historical Literature in 2003 and was a “Book of the Month” selection of the History Book Club.  In 2013 he published The Long, Lingering Shadow, a comparative study in legal history that explores the role of law in constructing systems of racial hierarchy in the Americas.

Professor Cottrol has just finished the book, Insurgent Victory: Heller, McDonald and the Restoration of the Second Amendment (co-author Brannon Denning) for the University Press of Kansas.  He is also working on a co-edited volume on Afro-Argentine life in the twentieth century. 

Professor Cottrol has lectured on American law at the Pontifical University of Rio Grande do Sul and the Federal Universities of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.  An adjunct professor at La Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires, he has also lectured at the law faculties of La Universidad de Buenos Aires, La Universidad del Museo Social and La Universidad de Palermo in Argentina.




BA, PhD, Yale University; JD, Georgetown University

In the News

"New York Case Spotlights Gun Laws, Race History: Explained"

November 03, 2021

Robert J. Cottrol is quoted by Bloomberg Law about a Supreme Court case involving the Second Amendment.

"Abortion, Guns, Religion Top a Big Supreme Court Term"

October 02, 2021

Robert Cottrol is quoted by the Associated Press about a Second Amendment case the Supreme Court will hear in the new term.

"The Creepy Trend That Sparked a Highway Standoff With a Black Militia"

July 10, 2021
Robert J. Cottrol is quoted in The Daily Beast about the recent rise in bizarre incidents involving members of the Moorish Sovereign movement.

"These ‘Gun Sanctuary States’ Want to Destroy Biden’s Gun Control Plans"

May 05, 2021

Robert J. Cottrol is quoted in Vice News about whether state sanctuary laws involving guns put the U.S. on track for a constitutional crisis.

"Black Americans Flock to Gun Stores and Clubs: 'I Needed to Protect Myself'"

April 05, 2021
Robert J. Cottrol is quoted in The Guardian about why gun ownership among Black Americans has increased dramatically in the last year.