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Jeffrey Sutton

Jeffrey Sutton
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Assumed office
May 5, 2003
Appointed by George W. Bush
Preceded by David Nelson
Personal details
Born (1960-10-31) October 31, 1960
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
Alma mater Williams College
Ohio State University

Jeffrey Stuart Sutton (born October 31, 1960 in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia) is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.


  • Early life and career 1
  • Sixth Circuit 2
    • Nomination 2.1
    • Tenure 2.2
  • Published works 3
  • See also 4
  • Sources 5

Early life and career

Sutton received his B.A. from Williams College in 1983. After graduating from college and prior to law school, Sutton taught high school history and was the varsity soccer coach at The Columbus Academy, a private school in Gahanna, Ohio.

He received his law degree from The Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law in 1990. He then clerked for Judge Thomas Meskill of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1990–1991 and then on the United States Supreme Court for Justices Antonin Scalia and Lewis Powell in 1991–1992.

Sutton was in private practice in Columbus from 1992 to 1995 and 1998 to 2003. Sutton was state solicitor for the state of Ohio from 1995 to 1998. He has also served as an adjunct professor of law at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law[1] since 1994 and more recently as a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School.[2] He teaches state constitutional law, a subject in which he is particularly interested and about which he has written repeatedly.[3]

Sixth Circuit


Sutton was first nominated by President David A. Nelson. That nomination, made during the 107th United States Congress, never received a floor vote in the U.S. Senate. Sutton was not confirmed until almost two years later, on April 29, 2003, when the U.S. Senate of the 108th United States Congress voted 52 to 41 in favor of his confirmation to the Sixth Circuit. He received his commission on May 5, 2003. Sutton was the third judge nominated to the Sixth Circuit by Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate.


Judge Sutton has been recognized as the intellectual engine behind a conservative movement of the jurisprudence of the Sixth Circuit as the author of many majority en banc opinions representing the Republican-appointed judges.[4] In June 2011, Sutton became the first Republican nominated judge to rule in favor of the health care mandate in President Barack Obama's Health Care law.[5]

In November 2014, Sutton authored the opinion upholding gay marriage bans in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee in a 2-1 ruling by the Sixth Circuit. The ruling was the second[6] to uphold gay marriage bans since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 and runs counter to rulings by the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th circuits.[7]

Published works

  • Courts as Change Agents: Do We Want More — Or Less?, 127 Harvard Law Review 1419 (2014)
  • , Frankfurter, and Judicial ReviewBarnette, 96 Marquette Law Review 133 (2012)
  • What Does—and Does Not—Ail State Constitutional Law, 59 U. Kan. L. Rev. 687 (2011).
  • State Constitutional Law: The Modern Experience (2010) (with Randy J. Holland, Stephen R. McAllister, and Jeffrey M. Shaman).
  • A Review of Richard Posner, How Judges Think (2008), 108 Mich. L. Rev. 859 (2010).
  • The Role of History in Judging Disputes About the Meaning of the Constitution, 41 Tex. Tech L. Rev. 1173 (2009).
  • Why Teach—And Why Study—State Constitutional Law, 34 Okla. City U. L. Rev. 165 (2009).
  • and its AftermathSan Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez , 94 Va. L. Rev. 1963 (2008).
  • An Appellate Perspective on Federal Sentencing After Booker and Rita, 85 Denv. U. L. Rev. 79 (2007).

See also


  1. ^ Moritz College of Law – Faculty: The Honorable Jeffrey S. Sutton. Retrieved on 2012-06-25.
  2. ^ Harvard Law School - Faculty: Jeffrey S. Sutton. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  3. ^ See, e.g., Holland, McAllister, Shaman, and Sutton, State Constitutional Law: The Modern Experience (2010); What Does—and Does Not—Ail State Constitutional Law, 59 U. Kan. L. Rev. 687 (2011).
  4. ^ The Politics of the Federal Bench. (2008-12-08). Retrieved on 2012-06-25.
  5. ^ 6th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upholds individual mandate – Jennifer Haberkorn. Politico.Com. Retrieved on 2012-06-25.
  6. ^ a b Denniston, Lyle. "Puerto Rico ban on same-sex marriage upheld". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved 2014-11-12. 
  7. ^ Wolf, Richard (7 November 2014). "Gay marriage bans in four states upheld, Supreme Court review likely". USA Today (Gannett). Retrieved 7 November 2014. 


Legal offices
Preceded by
David Nelson
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
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