Nicole Stelle Garnett

Nicole Stelle Garnett

Associate Dean for External Engagement
John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law

Office: 3115 Eck Hall of Law
Phone: 574-631-3091
Fax: 574-631-8078
Staff Assistant: Alicia Cummins
CV: View
SSRN: View

Nicole Stelle Garnett's teaching and research focus on education policy and topics related to property law (especially land use and urban development policies). In addition to dozens of articles on these subjects, she is the author of two books, Lost Classroom, Lost Community: Catholic Schools' Importance in Urban America (University of Chicago Press, 2014) and Ordering the City: Land Use, Policing and the Restoration of Urban America (Yale University Press, 2009). Currently, she is engaged in an ambitious research effort in collaboration with scholars from around the world to gain a comprehensive understanding of the legal rules governing, and public funds available to, faith-based schools in the Global South.   

At Notre Dame, Garnett is a fellow of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate, and the deNicola Center for Ethics and Culture. She also is the senior policy advisor for the Alliance for Catholic Education, a program engaged in a wide array of efforts to strengthen and sustain K-12 Catholic schools. From 2008-2010, she served as provost fellow at Notre Dame, and, during the Spring 2007 semester, as a visiting professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School. 

Garnett received her B.A. with distinction in Political Science from Stanford University and her J.D. from Yale Law School. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Morris S. Arnold of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and for Associate Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court of the United States. Before joining the law school faculty in 1999, she worked for two years as a staff attorney at the Institute for Justice, a non-profit public-interest law firm in Washington, D.C.

Courses Taught

LAW60906, Property

LAW70313, Law of Education

LAW70317, Local Government

LAW70345, Land Use Planning

LAW73301, State Constitutional Law

LAW73313, Higher Education Law



John E. Coons, The Case for Parental Choice: God, Family, and Educational Liberty (Nicole Garnett, Richard Garnett, and Ernest Morrell, eds.) (Notre Dame Press, 2023)

Lost Classrooms, Lost Community: Catholic Schools’ Importance in Urban America (with Margaret Brinig) (University of Chicago Press, 2014) 

Ordering the City: Land Use, Policing and the Restoration of Urban America/ (Yale University Press, 2009) 

Selected Articles and Essays

“Decoupling Property and Education,” 123 Columbia Law Review 1367 (2023)

“Religious Covenants,” with Patrick Reidy, c.s.c., 74 Florida Law Review 822 (2022)

“The Comparative Legal Landscape of Educational Pluralism,” 73 Arkansas Law Rev.455 (2020) (Hartman Holtz Distinguished Lecture)

“A Case for Educational Pluralism,” 5 Education Law and Policy Rev. 35 (2019)

“Post-Accountability Accountability,” 52 Michigan J. of Law Reform 158 (2018)

“Planning for Density: Promises, Perils and a Paradox,” 33 Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law 1 (2018)

“Sector Agnosticism and the Coming Transformation of Education Law,” 70 Vanderbilt Law Review 1 (2017)

“To Help, Not to Hurt: Justice Thomas’s Equality Canon,” Yale Law Journal Forum, August 2, 2017 (with William Consovoy)

“Disparate Impact, Public-School Closures and Parental Choice,” 2014 Chicago Legal Forum 289 (2014)

“Redeeming Transect Zoning?” 78 Brooklyn Law Review 571 (2013)

“Managing the Urban Commons,” 160 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1995 (2012)

“Are Charters Enough Choice? School Choice and the Future of Catholic Schools,” 87 Notre Dame Law Review 1892 (2012)

“Catholic Schools and Broken Windows,” with Margaret Brinig, 9 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 347 (2012)

“Catholic Schools, Charter Schools, and Crime,” with Margaret Brinig, 79 University of Chicago Law Review 31 (2012)

“The People Paradox,” 2012 University of Illinois Law Review 43

“Affordable Private Education and the Middle Class City,” 77 University of Chicago Law Review 205 (2010)

“Unbundling Homeownership: Regional Reforms from the Inside Out,” 119 Yale Law Journal 1904 (2010)

“Catholic Schools, Urban Neighborhoods, and Education Reform” (with Margaret Brinig), 85 Notre Dame Law Review 887 (2010)

“The Order Maintenance Agenda as Land Use Policy,” 24 Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, and Public Policy 131 (2010)

“'But for the Grace of God, There Go I’: Justice Thomas and the Little Guy,” 4 NYU Journal of Law & Liberty 626 (2010) (tribute to Justice Clarence Thomas)

Private Norms and Public Spaces,” 18 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 183 (2009) (invited tribute to Robert C. Ellickson)

“‘No Taking without a Touching?’ Reflections of an Armchair Originalist,” 45 San Diego Law Review 761 (2008)

“Suburbs as Exit, Suburbs as Entrance,” 106 Michigan Law Review 277 (2007)

“Planning as Public Use,” 34 Ecology Law Quarterly 443 (2007)

“The Neglected Political Economy of Eminent Domain,” 105 Michigan Law Review101 (2006)

“Save the Cities, Stop the Suburbs?” 117 Yale Law Journal 599 (2006)

“Relocating Disorder,” 91 Virginia Law Review 1075 (2005)

“Ordering (and Order in) the City,” 57 Stanford Law Review 1 (2004)

“The Public Use Question as a Takings Problem,” 71 GW Law Review 934 (2003)

“Trouble Preserving Paradise?” 87 Cornell Law Review 158 (2001)

Policy Reports

Implementing Education Savings Accounts,” with Michael McShane, Manhattan Institute Report (June 2023)

Unlocking the Potential of Private-School Choice: Avoiding and Overcoming Obstacles to Successful Implementation,” Manhattan Institute Report (March 2023)

Accountability and Private School Choice,” Manhattan Institute Report (October 2021)

Religious Charter Schools: Legally Permissible? Constitutionally Required?” Manhattan Institute Policy Brief (December 2020)

Selected Commentary

Parental Choice Victories are Worth Celebrating: Now Comes the Hard Part,” The74, June 22, 2023 (with Michael McShane)

Religious Charter Schools are OK in Oklahoma,” Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2023

Oklahoma’s Approval of First Ever Religious Charter School is Cause for Celebration,” Education Next, June 7, 2023

Tilling the Garden of School Choice,Law & Liberty, May 10, 2023

Biden Boils the Religious Liberty Frog,” Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2023 (with Meredith Holland Kessler)

As Private-School Choice Spreads, Implementation is Imperative,” Education Next, March 23, 2023

From School Choice to Parent Choice,” City Journal, January 31, 2023

The First Amendment Wins,” National Review, July 14, 2022

Another Chink in the Armor of Legal Discrimination against Religious Schools,” Public Discourse, July 5, 2022

A Victory for Religious Liberty and Educational Pluralism,” City Journal, June 22, 2022

Clarence Thomas’s Constitutional Excavation,” National Review, October 28, 2021

What I Saw at the Daytona 500,” Harvard J. of L. & Public Pol’y, August 30, 2021

Why We Still Need Catholic Schools,” City Journal, Summer 2020

Areas of Expertise

  • Education Reform & Policy
  • Land Use Planning & Regulation
  • Local Government Law
  • Property Law
  • Regulatory Innovation/design/reform
  • School Choice
  • Urban & Economic Development