PAMELA S. KARLAN (born February 1959) is a professor of law at Stanford Law School. A leading legal scholar on Constitutional and voting rights and political process, she served as U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Voting Rights in the United States Department of Justice Civil Division from 2014 to 2015. Most recently she was one of three law professors to testify before the House Impeachment Hearings of Donald Trump, during which she famously quipped “While the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,” prompting a wave of pearl-clutching hair-on-fire backlash from conservatives. Alas, she later apologized. 

Karlan earned her B.A. degree in history from Yale University in 1980, as well as an M.A. degree in history and J.D. degree in 1984. At Yale Law, she served as an Article and Book Reviews editor of the Yale Law Journal.

After graduating from law school, Karlan worked as a law clerk for former U.S. District Judge Abraham David Sofaer of the Southern District of New York from 1984 to 1985. She went on to clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun the following year. In a 1995 oral history with Harold Koh, Blackmun revealed that his dissent in Bowers v Hardwick had been written primarily by Karlan. He said that Karlan “did a lot of very effective writing, and I owe a lot to her and her ability in getting that dissent out. She felt very strongly about it, and I think is correct in her approach to it. I think the dissent is correct.”

Throughout her career, Karlan has been an advocate before the U.S. Supreme Court. She was mentioned as a potential candidate to replace Supreme Court Justice David Souter when he retired in 2009.

Karlan told Politico in 2009, “It’s no secret at all that I’m counted among theLGBT crowd”. She has described herself as an example of “snarky, bisexual, Jewish women”. Her partner is writer Viola Canales.