Levin College of Law

Danaya C. Wright

T. Terrell Sessums and Gerald Sohn Professor in Constitutional Law
Professor of Law


Professor Wright joined the Levin College of Law in 1998 and serves as the T. Terrell Sessums and Gerald Sohn Professor in Constitutional Law. At UF Law she has taught various subjects including, constitutional law, property, trusts and estates, legal history, feminist theory, constitutional law of property, and theories of property. As a legal historian, her research has delved into 19th century English divorce and marriage law, 19th century American property rights involving railroads and utilities, and women’s rights and constitutional protections in the 19th and early 20th centuries. She has written extensively, including several book chapters, on recreational trails and rails-to-trails conversions, on the history of English family law, on the Equal Rights Amendment, on constitutional takings law, on the logistics of drone delivery systems, and on the necessity for legal reforms in intestacy and probate law to better address land loss and the heirs’ property problem. Professor Wright has written dozens of articles, published in journals as diverse as the Iowa Law Review, the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, the Columbia Journal of Gender and the Law, Environmental Law, the Wisconsin Law Review, the Australia Journal of Legal History and Hawwa: Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic world. She has written two chapters, on transfer-on-death deeds and on rail-trail conversions, for the preeminent property treatise, Powell on Real Property. And her empirical work on testate and intestate distributions has earned her a grant from the ACTEC foundation, as well as acclaim in the probate and trusts field. Her articles have tackled child custody in England; religion, law and women’s rights in India; the ratification issues in the Equal Rights Amendment; and the property rights in a drone delivery highway. She has authored a popular Trusts and Estates casebook and co-authored a skills book for introducing students to the practice of trusts and estates and a chapter in a forthcoming Disaster Law Handbook. Her most recent book is on the noted Chancery case in which the Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, lost custody of his children because of his revolutionary and atheistic writings. And her work has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous federal and state courts.

Wright has taught at the Arizona State University Law School, Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis, and Georgetown Law Center. She received a B.A. in English Literature from Cornell University, an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Arizona, an M.A. in Liberal Education from St. John’s College, a J.D. from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University. She is also serving as the co-director of the Center for Governmental Responsibility, the largest and oldest public policy law center in Florida.


Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
J.D., Cornell University of Law (cum laude)
M.A., St. Johns College
M.A., University of Arizona
B.A., Cornell University

Teaching and Scholarship

Property, Estates and Trusts, Future Interests, Legal History, Jurisprudence, Law and Literature, Feminist Theory, Constitutional Law


  • Property
  • Reading Group: Theories of Law and Property
  • Trusts & Estates



  • Trusts and Estates: Simulations, co-authored with Silvia Menendez, West Bridge to Practice Series (West Academic Publishing, 2015)
  • The Law of Succession: Wills, Trusts, and Estates, (Lee-ford Tritt and Patricia Stallwood-Kendall – contributing authors) (Foundation Press, 2013)
  • Estates and Future Interests: Cases, Examples, and Explanations (Foundation Press, 2014)

Book Chapters

  • Weaponizing Private Property and The Chilling Effect of Regulatory Takings Jurisprudence in Combatting Global Warning, in Disaster Law Handbook (John Travis Marshall et al. eds., Cambridge University Press forthcoming 2022).
  • Coverture and Women’s Agency: Lessons Learned from a Century and Half of Marital Discord, in Married Women and the Law: Coverture in England and the Common Law World, ed. Tim Stretton and Krista Kesselring (McGill-Queen’s Univ Press, 2013).
  • “Hogwarts, the Family, and the State: Forging Identity and Virtue in Harry Potter,” in The Law and Harry Potter (Thomas and Snyder, eds), Carolina Academic Press, (2008).
  • “Rails-to-Trails: Conversion of Railroad Corridors to Recreational Trails,” Wolf (ed), 78A Powell on Real Property, 78A1-78A123 (2007) (plus updates).

Law Review and Journal Articles

  • Drone Airspace in Railroad Corridors: Repurposing Nineteenth-Century Property Law for the Twenty-First Century, 107 Iowa L. Rev. (forthcoming 2022) (with Ethan Moore)
  • Adventures in the Article V Wonderland: Justiciability and Legal Sufficiency of the ERA Ratifications, 12 U.C. Irvine L. Rev. (forthcoming 2021)
  • An Atrocious Way to Run a Constitution”: The Destabilizing Effects of Constitutional Amendment Rescissions, 59 Duq. L. Rev. 12 (2021) [SSRN]
  • What Happened to Grandma’s House: The Real Property Implications of Dying Intestate, 53 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 2603 (2020)
  • Tearing Down the Wall: How Transfer-on-Death Real-Estate Deeds Challenge the Inter Vivos/Testamentary Divide, 78 Md. L. Rev. 511 (2020) (with Stephanie Emrick) [SSRN]
  • The Demographics of Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth: An Empirical Study of Testacy and Intestacy on Family Property, 88 UMKC L. Rev. 665 (2020) [SSRN]
  • Disrupting the Wealth Gap Cycles: An Empirical Study of Testacy and Wealth, 2019 Wis. L. Rev. 101.
  • “Great Variety of Relevant Conditions, Political, Social and Economic”: The Constitutionality of Congressional Deadlines on Amendment Proposals under Article V, 28 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 1 (2019). [SSRN]
  • After Obergefell v. Hodges: The Continuing Battle Over Equal Rights for Sexual Minorities in the United States, GenIUS, December 2015, at 18 (GenIUS is Italy’s top journal on gender law) (with Simone Chriss) [SSRN]
  • The Inheritance Penalty for Children of Non-Traditional Parents, forthcoming Cornell J.L. & Pub. Pol’y, Spring 2015.
  • Doing a Double Take: Rail-Trail Takings Litigation in the Post-Brandt Trust Era, 39 Vt. L. Rev. 703 (2015). [SSRN]
  • A New Era of Lavish Land Grants: Taking Public Property for Private Use and Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States, Probate and Property, September/October 2014, 30-35. [SSRN]
  • Reliance Interests and Takings Liability for Rail-Trail Conversions: Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States, 44 Envtl. L. Rep. 10173-10184 (3/2014).
  • Theorizing History: Separate Spheres, the Public/Private Binary and a New Analytic for Family Law History, 2012 ANZLHS EJournal, Refereed Paper #2 [SSRN]
  • Policing Sexual Morality: Percy Shelley and the Expansive Scope of the Parens Patriae in the Law of Custody of Children, 8.2 Nineteenth Century Gender Studies online journal, (Summer, 2012)[SSRN]
  • The Shifting Sands of Property Rights, Federal Railroad Grants, and Economic History: Hash v. U.S. and the Threat to Rail-Trail Conversions, 38 Envtl. L.  711-766 (2008). [SSRN]
  • Charitable Deductions for Rail-Trail Conversions: Reconciling the Partial Interest Rule and the National Trails System Act (co-authored with Scott Bowman), 32 Wm. & Mary Envtl. L & Pol’y Rev. 1-57 (2008). [SSRN]
  • The Legacy of Colonialism: Religion, Law, and Women’s Rights in India (co-authored with Varsha Chitnis), 64 Wash. & Lee. L. Rev. 1315-1348 (2007). [SSRN]
  • Collapsing Liberalism’s Public/Private Divide: Voldemort’s War on the Family, in The Harry Potter Panel: Harry Potter and the Law, 12 Tex. Wesleyan L. Rev. 434-441, (2005).
  • Well-Behaved Women Don’t Make History: Rethinking Family, Law, And History Through An Analysis Of The First Nine Years Of The English Divorce And Matrimonial Causes Court (1858-1866), 2005 Wis. Women’s L.J. 211-318, (2005). [SSRN]
  • The Logic and Experience of Law: Lawrence v. Texas and the Politics of Privacy, 15 Fla. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 423-441 (2004).
  • A New Time For Denominators: Toward A Dynamic Theory Of Property In Regulatory Takings’ Relevant Parcel Analysis, 34 Envtl. L. 175-245, (2004), reprinted in 2005 Planning and Zoning Law Handbook, (Thomson/West).
  • Untying the Knot: An Analysis of the English Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Court Records, 1858-1866, 38 U. Richmond L. Rev. 903-1010, (2004). [SSRN]
  • Shaken, Not Stirred: Has Tahoe-Sierra Settled or Muddied the Regulatory Takings Waters? 32 Envtl. L. Rev. 11177-11189 (2002). [SSRN]
  • The Crisis of Child Custody: A History of the Birth of Family Law in England, 11 Colum. J. Gender & L. 175-270 (2002). [SSRN]
  • Eminent Domain, Exactions, and Railbanking: Can Recreational Trails Survive the Court’s Fifth Amendment Jurisprudence? 26 Colum. J. Envtl. L., 399-481 (2001). [SSRN]
  • Foreword: Toward a Multicultural Theory of Property, introduction to AALS 2000 Panel on Property Law, symposium in 12 U. Fla. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 1-12 (Spring 2001).
  • Pipes, Wires, and Bicycles: Rails-to-Trails, Utility Licenses, and the Shifting Scope of Railroad Easements from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries, (co-authored with Jeffrey M. Hester), 27 Ecology L.Q. 351-465 (May, 2000). [SSRN]