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Gwynne L. Skinner

Professor of Law

Headshot of Gwynne L. Skinner

Contact Information

Salem Campus

245 Winter Street SE
Salem  Oregon  97301


Professor Gwynne Skinner passed away from a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer on December 11, 2017.

Professor Skinner directed the Human Rights and Refugee Law Clinic at Willamette, taught the affiliated seminar, and taught courses in Immigration, Refugee Law, and Human Rights. Prior to teaching law at Willamette, Professor Skinner was a civil rights and international human rights attorney in Seattle, a civil litigator with the national law firm of Dorsey and Whitney LLP, and a federal and state prosecutor, initially with the U.S. Department of Justice Honors Program. She was also a visiting professor at Seattle University School of Law.

Professor Skinner was an expert on litigating human rights cases under the Alien Tort Statute, and she and her clinic students helped countless refugees from around the world receive asylum in the United States. She and her students represented former Guantanamo Bay detainees, victims of human rights atrocities, and numerous individuals seeking asylum in the United States. She also engaged in fact-finding of human rights violations and worked on or authored numerous human rights fact-finding reports. In the spring of 2015, the law school’s student-run Public Interest Law Project awarded Professor Skinner the Raising the Bar Award for promoting public interest law and addressing access to justice issues. Skinner also received the university’s 2015 Jerry E. Hudson Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

Professor Skinner served as an advisor to the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) and authored two reports: Parent Company Liability: Overcoming Obstacles to Justice for Human Rights Violations (Fall 2015) and The Third Pillar - Access to Judicial Remedies for Human Rights Violations by Transnational Business (with Prof. Olivier De Schutter and Prof. Robert McCorquodale) (Fall 2013). Her expertise in this area took her to Geneva and led to ICAR creating the “Gwynne Skinner Human Rights Award.”

Professor Skinner’s scholarly research and writing primarily focused on legal issues related to human and civil rights litigation, and in particular, barriers to legal remedies.


  • MSt, International Human Rights Law (LLM equiv.), Oxford University, with distinction
  • JD, University of Iowa, with high distinction
  • MA, University of Iowa

Selected Publications


  • Transnational Corporations and Human Rights: Overcoming Barriers to Judicial Remedy (Cambridge Univ. Press, expected Spring 2018)


  • "Expanding General Personal Jurisdiction Over Transnational Corporations for Federal Causes of Action," 121 Penn. St. L. Rev. 617 (2017)
  • "Rethinking Limited Liability of Parent Corporations for Foreign Subsidiaries’ Violations of International Human Rights Law," 72 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 1769 (December 2015)
  • "Beyond Kiobel: Providing Access to Judicial Remedies for Violations of International Human Rights Norms by Transnational Corporations in a New (Post-Kiobel) World," 46 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 158 (Fall 2014)
  • "Misunderstood, Misconstrued, and Now Clearly Dead: The ‘Political Question Doctrine’ as a Justiciability Doctrine," 9 J.L. & POL. 427 (Spring 2014) (Univ. of Virginia)
  • "Roadblocks to Remedies: Recently-Developed Barriers to Relief for Aliens Injured by U.S. Officials, Contrary to the Founders’ Intent," 47 U. Rich. L. Rev. 555 (Spring 2013)
  • "The Nonjusticiability of Palestine: Human Rights Litigation and the (Mis)Application of the Political Question Doctrine," 35(1) Hastings Int. and Comp. L. Rev. 99 (Winter 2012)
  • "When Customary International Law Violations Arise Under the Laws of the United States," 36 Brook. J. Int’l L. 205 (Fall 2010)
  • "Customary International Law, Federal Common Law, and Federal Court Jurisdiction," 44 Val. U.L Law Rev. 825, (Spring 2010) (symposium publication)
  • "Federal Jurisdiction Over U.S. Citizens' Claims for Human Rights Violations," 37 Ga. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 53 (2008)
  • "Nuremberg's Legacy Continues: The Nuremberg Trials' Influence on Human Rights Litigation in U.S. Courts under the Alien Tort Statute," 71 Alb. L. Rev. 321 (December 2007)
  • "Intimate Association and the First Amendment," 3 Law and Sexuality 1 (1993) 
Willamette University

Faculty Support

Willamette University
College of Law
245 Winter Street SE
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
(503) 370-6405