Bethany Berger

Wallace Stevens Professor of Law
Headshot of Professor Berger
860-570-5282
Office: Hosmer 134

Scholarship

  • American Indian Law
  • Property
  • Conflict of Laws

Professor Bethany Berger is a widely read scholar of Property Law and Legal History and one of the leading federal Indian Law scholars in the country.  She is a co-author and member of the Editorial Board of Felix S. Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law, the foundational treatise in the field, and co-author of leading casebooks in both Property Law and American Indian Law.  Her articles have appeared in the Michigan Law ReviewCalifornia Law ReviewUCLA Law Review, and the Duke Law Journal, among other publications, and have been excerpted and discussed in many casebooks and edited collections as well as in briefs to the Supreme Court and testimony before Congress. 

Professor Berger graduated with honors from Wesleyan University, where she was elected to phi beta kappa, and from Yale Law School.  After law school, Professor Berger went to the Navajo and Hopi Nations to serve as the Director of the Native American Youth Law Project of DNA-People's Legal Services.  There, she conducted litigation challenging discrimination against Indian children, drafted and secured the passage of tribal laws affecting children, and helped to create a Navajo alternative to detention program.  She then became Managing Attorney of Advocates for Children of New York, where she worked on impact litigation and policy reform concerning the rights of children in public education.   

At the University of Connecticut School of Law, Professor Berger teaches American Indian Law, Property, Tribal Law, and Conflict of Laws.  She is also the Wallace Stevens Professor of Law, a chair named for one of America’s greatest poets, a lawyer who lived and worked in Hartford for most of his life. She has served as a judge for the Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals, as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and the University of Michigan Law School, and co-authored amicus briefs in five successful cases in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bethany Berger, McGirt v. Oklahoma and the Past, Present and Future of Reservation Boundaries, Penn L. Rev. Online (forthcoming)

Bethany BergerSavage Equalities94 Washington Law Review 583 (2019)

Bethany Berger, The Illusion of Fiscal Illusion in Regulatory Takings, 66 Am. U. L. Rev. 1 (2016)

Bethany Berger, Birthright Citizenship on Trial:  Elk v. Wilkins and United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 37 Cardozo L. Rev. 1185 (2016) (discussed in Fred Barbash, Donald Trump, Meet Wong Kim Ark, Washington Post (Aug. 31, 2015) and others)

Bethany BergerIn the Name of the Child: Race, Gender, and Class in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 67 Fla. L. Rev. 295 (2015). (reprinted in part in Juan Perea, Richard Delgado, Angela Harris, Jean Stefancic & Stephanie Wildman, Race and Races: Cases and Resources for a Diverse America (2015)).

Bethany Berger, Williams v. Lee and the Debate Over Indian Equality, 109 Mich. L. Rev. 1463 (2011)

Bethany Berger, Reconciling Equal Protection and Federal Indian Law, 98 Cal. L. Rev. 1165 (2010)

Bethany Berger, Red, Racism, and the American Indian, 56 UCLA L. Rev. 591 (2009) (reprinted in part in Race and Equality Law (Angela Harris, ed. 2013))

Bethany Berger, It's Not About the Fox: The Untold History of Pierson v. Post, 55 Duke L. J. 1089 (2006) (discussed in Jesse Dukeminier et al., Property (Aspen 7th ed. 2010); Thomas W. Merrill & Henry E. Smith, Property: Policies and Principles (2007); Joseph William Singer, Property: Rules, Policies and Practices (5th Ed. 2010); James Charles Smith & John Copeland Nagle, Property: Cases and Materials (2008) and others)

Recent Faculty Notes
Supreme Court Cites Prof. Bethany Berger’s Brief in Landmark Case
Jul 13, 2020 -

The U.S. Supreme Court cited UConn Law Professor Bethany Berger’s brief in a landmark decision that is expected to reframe the sovereignty of American Indian tribal nations. In an opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court held that the Muscogee (Creek) Reservation, which includes Tulsa, Oklahoma, still exists, so the state doesn’t have jurisdiction over tribal citizens there. The court cited Berger’s amicus brief on behalf of the National Congress of American Indians, co-authored with Mitchell Hamline Professor Colette Routel. Read more

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