Jeffrey Sutton

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Jeffrey Stuart Sutton
Jeffrey Sutton 2006.jpg
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Assumed office
May 5, 2003
Appointed byGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byDavid Aldrich Nelson
Solicitor General of Ohio
In office
GovernorGeorge Voinovich
Preceded byRichard Cordray
Succeeded byEdward Foley
Personal details
Jeffrey Stuart Sutton

(1960-10-31) October 31, 1960 (age 59)
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
EducationWilliams College (B.A.)
Ohio State University (J.D.)

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

Early life and career[edit]

Sutton received his Bachelor of Arts degree 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 Juris Doctor 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 from 1990 to 1991 and then on the United States Supreme Court for Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr.. However, since Justice Powell had assumed senior status, Sutton primarily worked under Antonin Scalia from 1991 to 1992, and as a result he was a co-clerk with Daniel P. Collins.

Sutton was in private practice in Columbus from 1992 to 1995 and 1998 to 2003, serving as Solicitor General 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 extensively.[3]

Judicial Career[edit]

Sixth Circuit nomination[edit]

Sutton was first nominated by President George W. Bush on May 9, 2001 to a seat on the Sixth Circuit vacated by David A. Nelson. That nomination, made during the 107th United States Congress, never received a floor vote in the United States Senate. Sutton was not confirmed until almost two years later, on April 29, 2003, when the Senate of the 108th United States Congress voted 52 to 41 in favor of his confirmation to the Sixth Circuit.[4] 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.

Sixth Circuit tenure[edit]

In 2007, Sutton dissented in part when the Sixth Circuit held that a police officer did not have qualified immunity for arresting a speaker for using foul language at a town meeting.[5] In June 2011, Sutton became the first judge appointed by a Republican to rule in favor of the health care mandate in President Barack Obama's Health Care law.[6]

In November 2014, Sutton authored the 2-1 opinion ruling upholding same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee in the Sixth Circuit reversing six previous federal district court rulings. The ruling was the second federal court ruling and the only Federal Court of Appeals ruling[7] to uphold same-sex marriage bans after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor in June 2013. This ran counter to rulings by the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th circuits, which then led the U.S. Supreme Court to grant writ of certiorari to review same-sex marriage bans when it previously declined to do so.[8][9] In Obergefell v. Hodges the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Sixth Circuit.

Feeder judge[edit]

Since joining the bench, Judge Sutton has been one of the most prolific feeder judges, sending a number of his law clerks to the Supreme Court.[10]


Sutton chaired the Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules of the Judicial Conference of the United States from 2009 to 2012, and served on the committee beginning in 2005. He went on to chair the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure from 2012 to 2015. [11]

Published works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Moritz College of Law – Faculty: The Honorable Jeffrey S. Sutton Archived 2012-02-22 at the Wayback Machine. 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. ^ "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 108th Congress - 1st Session".
  5. ^ Recent Case: Sixth Circuit Denies Qualified Immunity to Police Officer for Arrest for Speech at Public Meeting, 120 Harv. L. Rev. 2238 (2007)
  6. ^ 6th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upholds individual mandate – Jennifer Haberkorn. Politico.Com. Retrieved on 2012-06-25.
  7. ^ Denniston, Lyle. "Puerto Rico ban on same-sex marriage upheld". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved 2014-11-12.
  8. ^ Wolf, Richard (7 November 2014). "Gay marriage bans in four states upheld, Supreme Court review likely". USA Today. Gannett. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  9. ^ Wolf, Richard (16 January 2015). "Supreme Court agrees to rule on Gay Marriage". USA Today. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Is October Term 2014 Filled Up? Plus A List Of Top Feeder Judges". Above the Law. Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  11. ^ "Past Members of the Rules Committees". Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. 12 Oct 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2018.


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