Professor Teressa Ravenell Selected for American Constitution Society’s Big Ideas Publication for Biden Administration


Teressa Ravenell, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development and Professor of Law, was included in the American Constitution Society’s recent publication, What’s the Big Idea? Recommendations for Improving Law & Policy in the Next Administration and in the States. The publication, a collection of essays that represents topics such as immigration and labor law, democracy and death penalty reform, reproductive justice and a better response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been shared with the new Biden administration as well as state legislatures.

Ravenell, a known expert on federal civil rights litigation against police officials, was selected to participate in the publication along with other distinguished legal experts and scholars from around the country. Her essay, is titled “Police Liability Reimagined: Vicarious Liability for Constitutional Deprivations.”

“I was honored when the American Constitution Society asked me to contribute to its Big Ideas project, but I also immediately recognized the responsibility that accompanied accepting the invitation,” said Ravenell. “The question of police reform is a massive topic and one that has weighed especially heavy on the country over the past year. I became a lawyer to effectuate change, particularly as it concerned police accountability. My purpose didn’t change when I became a law professor, but my method did. Now, when I teach and I write, it is to share my ideas with others with the hope they will move them forward. The Big Ideas project gave me an opportunity directly to share my ideas with those best positioned to enact them, and so many others.”

Ravenell’s essay focuses on policing in the United States and looks at how Congress can reshape police liability and accountability. “Police have enormous power in this country, she said. “They have the authority to deprive a person of life, liberty and property and, unfortunately, our systems to prevent misconduct and hold officers accountable are deeply flawed. This must change. In my paper I aimed to propose a solution that not only increased the likelihood victims would be compensated for their injuries, but also decreased the likelihood people would ever suffer these injuries.”

Ravenell joined Villanova Law in 2006 and began serving as Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development in 2019. She teaches Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Civil Rights Litigation, and Police Conduct. Ravenell's scholarship focuses on section 1983, the federal civil remedy for constitutional deprivations, and examines the points at which section 1983 jurisprudence converges with other areas of the law. She is an expert on qualified immunity, municipal liability, and federal civil rights litigation against police officials. Ravenell held industry positions as an associate with Wilmer, Cutler, & Pickering in Washington DC and she clerked for the Honorable Raymond A. Jackson of the United Stated District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Prior to joining Villanova Law, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at William and Mary Law School. Ravenell received her BA from the University of Virginia and her JD from Columbia University School of Law.