Margo Schlanger, Wade H. and Dores M. McCree Collegiate Professor of Law, is being nominated by President Joseph Biden to serve as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If Professor Schlanger is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she will take a leave of absence from Michigan Law so that she can lead USDA’s anti-discrimination efforts in program delivery and the treatment of employees.


Margo Schlanger
Margo Schlanger, Wade H. and Dores M. McCree Collegiate Professor of Law

Professor Schlanger’s career demonstrates her long-time commitment to civil rights and to public service. In 2010 and 2011, she served as the presidentially appointed Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the Obama-Biden Administration’s Department of Homeland Security, leading the civil rights office’s internal DHS oversight relating to issues such as immigration detention conditions, racial profiling, border screening, language access, and disability rights; she chaired an interagency group addressing disability access to disaster planning and response. In 2012 and 2013, she was Counsel to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on civil rights matters, working to reduce sexual abuse and use of solitary confinement in immigration detention. Earlier in her career, Schlanger served as a Trial Attorney and Senior Trial Attorney within the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. 

Schlanger founded and directs Michigan Law’s Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, a national repository of information about large-scale civil rights cases. Schlanger has written and testified about how federal agencies can better implement civil rights goals, and has served as a court-appointed monitor in a statewide federal case protecting the rights of prisoners with disabilities. She was the principal drafter of the American Bar Association’s influential Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners, and author of the leading casebook on prisoners’ rights, The Law of Incarceration: Cases and Materials (West Academic 2020). A graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, Schlanger clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during Justice Ginsburg’s first two terms on the Supreme Court of the United States.  

She is married to Samuel Bagenstos, Frank G. Millard Professor of Law, who is on leave from Michigan Law to serve as the general counsel of the federal Office of Management and Budget, and has been nominated by President Biden to serve as the general counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services.