Jeffrey Sutton

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Jeffrey Sutton
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Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Title:   Judge
Appointed by:   Pres. George W. Bush
Active:   5/5/2003-Present
Preceded by:   David Nelson
Past post:   Attorney in private practice
Past term:   1988-2003
Personal History
Born:   1960
Hometown:   Dhahran, Suadi Arabia
Undergraduate:   Williams College, 1983
Law School:   Ohio State University Law, 1990

Jeffrey S. Sutton is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He joined the court in 2003 after being nominated by President George W. Bush.[1]


Sutton graduated from Williams College with his bachelor's degree in 1983 and earned his J.D. from Ohio State University College of Law in 1990.[1]

Professional career

Judicial career

On the recommendation of U.S. Senator Mike DeWine, Sutton was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by President George W. Bush on January 7, 2003, to a seat vacated by Judge David Nelson. Sutton was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 29, 2003, and received commission on May 5, 2003.[2]

Notable cases

Expulsion of unprofessional med student upheld by Sixth Circuit (2015)

Amir Al-Dabagh was known at Case Western Reserve Medical School as academically excellent but personally unprofessional. His reputation included “butt-grabbing” of female students, asking professors to lie on his behalf and dodging paying taxi fare by jumping out of a moving cab.[3] His intern experience, too, was filled with tension. The female office staff complained about his attitude towards them, and a family once asked him to be removed from the exam room. The school demanded that Al-Dabagh take classes on professionalism, gender and to repeat his internship prior to graduation.

It was not until the university learned of Al-Dabagh’s conviction for DUI in North Carolina that it decided it would not grant Al-Dabagh a degree, despite his academic achievements. He was expelled from the school, though the university had offered to allow him to withdraw on his own so he could apply to another medical school, an offer which Al-Dabagh refused. He filed suit, claiming that the university refusing to grant him a degree was tantamount to bad faith. Though Al-Dabagh won at the district court level, the university appealed to the 6th Circuit and won.

Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote for the three-judge panel (Sutton, Alice Batchelder and Deborah Cook). He particularly highlighted the fact that professionalism has been important to the medical field for centuries. Further, among the core competencies each degree candidate must meet at Case Western is professionalism, which ranks at number one on the list. Interestingly, medical knowledge is number five.

Ultimately, Judge Sutton wrote that the university’s Committee on Students made an academic judgment when it refused to grant Al-Dabagh a degree and such determinations are given deference unless they are outside “academic norms.”Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many


Same-sex marriage ban upheld in Sixth Circuit (2014)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (DeBoer, et al v. Snyder, et al, Case 2:12-cv-10285)

Judge Jeffrey Sutton was the opinion writing judge in DeBoer et al v. Snyder, et al, a case upholding the bans on same-sex marriage in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. In the court's opinion upholding the ban, Sutton based the reversal on allowing states the ability to govern themselves through the democratic process without the fear of a select few judges overruling a decision made by the majority. Sutton stated in his conclusion:
Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political process, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.[4][5]

Judge Deborah Cook joined Sutton's opinion.[6]

The dissenting opinion in the 2-1 ruling was written by Martha Daughtrey. She expressed that the three branches of government are equal, and the legislative branch should not be given higher authority over the judicial branch. In her counterargument, Daughtrey stated:

Today, my colleagues seem to have fallen prey to the misguided notion that the intent of the framers of the United States Constitution can be effectuated only by cleaving to the legislative will and ignoring and demonizing an independent judiciary. Of course, the framers presciently recognized that two of the three co-equal branches of government were representative in nature and necessarily would be guided by self-interest and the pull of popular opinion. To restrain those natural, human impulses, the framers crafted Article III to ensure that rights, liberties, and duties need not be held hostage by popular whims.[4][5]
The American Civil Liberties Union expressed its intent to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.[6]

See also

External links


Political offices
Preceded by:
David Aldrich Nelson
Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
Succeeded by: