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William J. Aceves

Dean Steven R. Smith Professor of Law

LLM, University of California, Los Angeles
MA, Harvard University
JD, University of Southern California
MA, University of Southern California
BA, Claremont McKenna College
225 Cedar Street
(619) 515-1589
Constitutional Law; International Law; Human Rights Law; Civil Procedure

Professor Aceves graduated from the University of Southern California with a JD and MA in international relations. After practicing law for two years, Aceves returned to academia to earn an MA in government at Harvard University and an LLM in international law at the UCLA School of Law. He also served as the Ford Foundation Fellow in International Law at the UCLA School of Law. In 1998, he joined the faculty at California Western, and was promoted to professor of law in 2001. He served as the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs from 2007-2014.

Aceves frequently works with Amnesty International, the Center for Justice & Accountability, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union on projects involving the domestic application of international law. He has also represented several human rights and civil liberties organizations as amicus curiae counsel in cases before the federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Aceves is the author of The Anatomy of Torture and coauthor of The Law of Consular Access. He co-edited Lessons and Legacies of the War on Terror. He is also the principal author of the influential Amnesty International USA Safe Haven report. He has published numerous articles on human rights and international law. Aceves served as co-chair for the 101st Annual Meeting of American Society of International Law, and the 2016 and 2019 International Law Weekend Conferences of the American Branch of the International Law Association.

Aceves is a member of the American Law Institute. He has served on the National Boards of Amnesty International USA and the International Law Students Association. He serves as the AIUSA Ombudsperson. He currently serves on the Boards of the Center for Justice & Accountability and the American Civil Liberties Union. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association. Aceves has appeared before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Migrants, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Aceves is admitted to the State Bar of California, the U.S. District Courts for the Central and Southern District of California, the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the First Circuit, Second Circuit, Fifth Circuit, Ninth Circuit, D.C. Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.


  • William J. Aceves, Hidden History and the Power of Social Movements: The Watts Gang Treaty, 57 Harv. Civ. Rts-Civ. Lib. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2022).
  • William J. Aceves, Amending a Racist Constitution, 170 U. Pa. L. Rev. Online (forthcoming 2021).
  • William J. Aceves, Hernandez, Bivens, and the Supreme Court’s Expanding Theory of Judicial Abdication, 118 Mich. L. Rev. Online 1 (2020).
  • William J. Aceves, Suing Russia: How Americans Can Fight Back against Russian Intervention in American Politics, 48 Fordham Int’l L.J. 1 (2019).
  • William J. Aceves, A Distinction with a Difference: Rights, Privileges, and the Fourteenth Amendment, 98 Tex. L. Rev. Online 1 (2019).
  • William J. Aceves, Virtual Hatred: How Russia Tried to Start a Race War in the United States, 25 U. Mich. J. Race & Law 101 (2019).
  • William J. Aceves, Correcting an Evident Error: A Plea to Revise Jesner v. Arab Bank PLC, 108 Geo. L.J. Online 63 (2018).
  • William J. Aceves, When Death Becomes Murder: A Primer on Extrajudicial Killing, 50 Colum. Hum. Rts. L.R. 116 (2018).
  • William J. Aceves, Cost-Benefit Analysis and Human Rights, 92 St. John’s L. Rev. 431 (2018).
  • William J. Aceves, Interrogation or Experimentation? Assessing Non-Consensual Human Experimentation During the War on Terror, 29 Duke J. Comp. & Int’l L. 41 (2018).
  • William J. Aceves, Valuing Life: A Human Rights Perspective on the Calculus of Regulation, 36 L. & Ineq. 1 (2018).
  • William J. Aceves, The Civil Redress and Historical Memory Act of 2029: A Legislative Proposal, 51 U. Mich. J. L. Reform 163 (2017).
  • William J. Aceves, United States v. Tenet: A Federal Indictment for Torture, 48 N.Y.U. J. Int’l L. & Pol. 1 (2015).
  • William J. Aceves, Two Stories about Skin Color and International Human Rights Advocacy, 14 Wash. U. Global Stud. L. Rev. 563 (2015).


  • Lessons and Legacies in the War on Terror (Gershon Shafir, Everard Meade & William J. Aceves eds., 2012).
  • John Quigley, William J. Aceves & S. Adele Shank, The Law of Consular Access (2010).
  • William J. Aceves, The Anatomy of Torture: A Documentary History of Filartiga v. Pena-Irala (2007).

Book Chapters

  • William J. Aceves, Using Transnational Litigation to Protect the Amazon: A Study of Corporate Liability, in Amazonia: Environment and the Law in Amazonia 36 (James M. Cooper & Christine Hunefeldt eds., 2013).
  • William J. Aceves, Constitutional Barriers and the Perils of Impunity, in Lessons and Legacies in the War on Terror 49 (Gershon Shafir, Everard Meade & William J. Aceves eds., 2012).
  • William J. Aceves, Human Rights Law and the Use of Incapacitating Biochemical Weapons, in Incapacitating Biochemical Weapons: Promise or Peril? 261 (Alan M. Pearson et al. eds., 2007).