Eric Blumenson 

Research Professor of Law; Professor Emeritus

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Eric Blumenson is a Research Professor of Law at Suffolk University, specializing in human rights and criminal justice. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he worked in indigent criminal defense before joining the Suffolk faculty to direct its criminal clinic. More recently his teaching and writing have also focused on human rights. His scholarly work has tackled a variety of human rights issues -- economic rights, capital punishment, cultural relativism, personhood, education rights, the International Criminal Court, and mass incarceration. Other writings include a two-volume criminal law treatise and articles in such journals as the Texas Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, Harvard Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Law Review, Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, and Journal of Law, Ethics and Philosophy. While at Suffolk, Blumenson has also served as a Fellow of the Open Society Institute, researching police abuse; a Fellow at Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy; a visiting attorney in the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor's office; a board member of the ACLU of Massachusetts; a Fulbright scholar in Lahore, Pakistan; a Fellow at the Northeastern University Ethics Institute, and a visiting professor at the University of Witswatersrand's legal clinic in South Africa. As Reporter to the Supreme Judicial Court's criminal rules advisory committee, he was responsible for drafting the first major revision of the Massachusetts criminal rules. 





MASSACHUSETTS CRIMINAL PRACTICE (3d CD ed. 2003; 2d ed., 1998 & Supp.2001)


Book Chapters

Two Moral Mistakes in the American Criminal Justice System, in FREEDOM AND ITS ENEMIES: THE TRAGEDY OF LIBERTY (Renata Uitz and Andrea Sajo, eds. Eleven International Publishing, The Hague, 2015)

Retributivism, in A SOCIAL HISTORY OF CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN AMERICA: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA (Sage Reference, Wilbur Miller ed., 2012)

Cultural Relativism, in ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GLOBAL JUSTICE (Springer, 2011)

Civil Asset Forfeiture, in ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES (Routledge, 2007)


How Are Human Rights Universal?, Carr Center Discussion Paper 2020-12 (2020).

The Limits of Moral Argument: Reason and Conviction in Tadros Philosophy of Punishment (with Responses by Victor Tadros), Journal of Law, Ethics, and Philosophy 3:30 (2015)

Four Challenges Confronting a Moral Conception of Universal Human Rights, 47 GEO. WASH. J. INT'L L. REV. 327 (2015)

Finding Common Ground: the Liberal Virtues in Ordered Liberty (Balkanization symposium review on Fleming and McClain), Ordered Liberty, (2013)

Economic Rights As Group Rights, 15 U. PA. J.L. & SOC. CHANGE 87 (2011)

Liberty Lost: The Moral Case for Marijuana Law Reform, 85 IND. L.J. 279 (2010)

No Rational Basis: The Pragmatic Case for Marijuana Law Reform, 17 VA. J. SOC. POL'Y & L. 43 (2009)

Constitutional Kabuki: Fidelity and Opportunism in the Foreign Law Debate, 43 SUFFOLK. L. REV. 136 (2009)

Killing in Good Conscience: What's Wrong with Sunstein and Vermeule's Lesser Evil Argument for Capital Punishment and Other Human Rights Violations?, 10 NEW CRIM. L. REV. 209 (2007)

The Challenge of a Global Standard of Justice: Peace, Pluralism, and Punishment at the International Criminal Court, 44 COLUM. J. TRANSNAT'L L. 797 (2006)

National Amnesties and International Justice, 2 EYES ON THE ICC 1 (2006)
Reporter's Notes to the Pre-trial Rules of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure, West (2004)

One Strike and You’re Out? Constitutional Constraints on Zero Tolerance in Public Education, 81 WASH. U. L.Q. 65 (2003)
Recovering from Drugs and the Drug War: A Viable Public Health Alternative, 6 IOWA J. GENDER, RACE & SOC'Y 225 (2002)

How to Construct an Underclass, Or How the War on Drugs Became a War on Education, 6 IOWA J. GENDER, RACE & SOC'Y 61 (2002)

The Next Stage of Forfeiture Reform, 14 FEDERAL SENTENCING REPORTER 76 (2001)

Who Counts Morally?, 14 J. L. & RELIGION 1 (2000)

Contesting the Government’s Financial Interest in Drug Cases, 13 CRIM. JUST. 4 (1999)
The Drug War's Hidden Economic Agenda, 266 :9 THE NATION 11-16 (1998)

Policing for Profit: The Drug War’s Hidden Economic Agenda, 65 U. CHI. L. REV. 35 (1998)

Mapping the Limits of Skepticism in Law and Morals, 74 TEX. L. REV.. 523 (1996)

Defending the Accused in District Court: Law and Tactics, 74 MASS. L. REV. 11 (1989)

Constitutional Limitations on Prosecutorial Discovery, 18 HARV. C.R.-C.L. . REV. 123 (1983)

Pretrial Procedure Under the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure, 67 MASS. L. REV. 61 (1982)


  • BA, Wesleyan University
  • JD, Harvard University
Portrait of Eric Blumenson.

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Courses Taught

  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Trial & Appellate Advocacy
  • Clinical Teaching
  • Moral and Legal Philosophy
  • Human Rights
  • Jurisprudence