Jeffrey Sutton

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Jeffrey Sutton
Jeffrey Sutton 2006.jpg
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 (age 58)
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

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 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 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 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[6] 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.[7][8] In Obergefell v. Hodges the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Sixth Circuit.

Feeder Judge

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.[9]

Published works

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. Denniston, Lyle. "Puerto Rico ban on same-sex marriage upheld". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved 2014-11-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Wolf, Richard (7 November 2014). "Gay marriage bans in four states upheld, Supreme Court review likely". USA Today. Gannett. Retrieved 7 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Wolf, Richard (16 January 2015). "Supreme Court agrees to rule on Gay Marriage". USA Today. Retrieved 7 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


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