Sherry's work in the area of constitutional law has earned her national recognition as one of the most well-known scholars in the field. The author of more than 100 books and articles, she also writes extensively on federal courts and federal court procedures. After graduating from law school, Professor Sherry was a clerk for the Honorable John C. Godbold of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Montgomery, Alabama, and then served as an associate with the law firm of Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin in Washington, D.C. She joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2000 as the inaugural holder of the Cal Turner Chair, having previously served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota Law School since 1982. She was named the Herman O. Loewenstein Professor of Law in 2006.
Areas of Expertise (9)
Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Constitutional Law and Theory
Federal Judicial System
The Supreme Court (U.S.)
SEC Faculty Achievement Award recipient (professional)
University of Chicago: J.D., Law 1979
Middlebury College: A.B., History 1976
- New Voices
- Journal of Law and Courts
- The Green Bag
- Constitutional Commentary
- Planned Parenthood of Middle and Eastern Tennessee
Selected Media Appearances (10)
Should Supreme Court Justices Have Term Limits?
U.S. News & World Report online
Term limits for Supreme Court justices are a bad idea. They won’t solve any problems, but they will make some existing problems worse and cause new ones.
Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in historic but anticipated reversal: ‘This is an invasion of a woman’s body’
The Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that upheld it, in a historic yet anticipated reversal.
Texas Abortion Law: Here’s What Happens Next After Supreme Court Refuses To Block It
Suzanna Sherry, chair in law at Vanderbilt University’s School of Law, told Forbes Friday it’s likely the district court will proceed quickly in the abortion providers’ case. After the district court issues its final ruling in the case, it’s expected it will be appealed to the 5th Circuit, which Sherry noted has so far only ruled on procedural issues in the case and not the constitutionality of the law itself, and would likely be bound by Supreme Court precedent to declare SB 8’s abortion restrictions unconstitutional. That being said, the Supreme Court is separately weighing a challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban that could significantly weaken or overturn the court’s precedent in Roe v. Wade and give states the green light to severely restrict or ban abortion. A decision in that case will come out by June. If the high court sides with Mississippi and rolls back abortion rights before the 5th Circuit rules in the abortion providers’ case, the appeals court would be more likely to rule in Texas’ favor and uphold the law.
Biden’s Thorny Options for Changing the Supreme Court: QuickTake
Bloomberg Law online
Term limit proposals have been around since at least the 1970s, but they’ve gotten new currency over the last five or 10 years due to people “becoming dissatisfied with the court,” said Suzanna Sherry, a law professor at Vanderbilt University who studies constitutional law. A draft report prepared for Biden’s commission says term limits “appear to enjoy the most widespread and bipartisan support” among proposals to reform the high court. There are a number of possible ways to structure term limits. The leading proposal would create staggered, 18-year terms, which would mean that every president would get to nominate two new justices each four-year term. Even if enacted, term limits would take decades to take full effect, since they wouldn’t apply to justices sitting at the time the change was implemented.
Roe v. Wade nearly fell 30 years ago. Can it survive again?
AP News online
“Casey strengthened the anti-abortion movement’s and conservatives’ desire to make sure there would be no more justices who looked like they would be conservative but who did not vote conservatively,” said Suzanna Sherry, a professor at Vanderbilt University’s law school.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s own words require her to recuse herself in abortion cases
The Hill online
When should a Supreme Court justice’s deeply held religious beliefs require recusal — that is, that the justice not participate in a particular case? A difficult question, to be sure, but one that Justice Amy Coney Barrett has already answered for herself. And her answer requires her recusal in abortion cases.
The second Trump impeachment trial is set for February. What happens next?
USA Today online
Suzanna Sherry, constitutional law expert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, who is an authority on impeachment, called it an "open question" and something on which the Senate should try to agree on.
Tennessee’s abortion wait period law faces court arguments
AP News online
Suzanna Sherry is a professor of law at Vanderbilt University. She said courts have upheld waiting periods even when the evidence showed that they caused some women a financial hardship by forcing them to take time off work and find baby sitters and transportation not once but twice. One key issue is how many women are negatively affected. “If that number is 2%, it’s probably not an undue burden. If it’s 80%, it probably is. In between, who knows?” Sherry said.
In Rare Burst of Writing, Seven Justices Explain ‘Cross’ Ruling
Bloomberg Law online
Through their separate opinions, the justices might hope to sway public opinion or even “set the stage for later cases,” said Supreme Court expert and Vanderbilt law professor Suzanna Sherry.
Trump Immigration Plan Raises Legal Questions About Birthright Citizenship
NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Suzanna Sherry, professor of law at Vanderbilt University, about the constitutionality of birthright citizenship, following Donald Trump's call to end it.
Selected Articles (2)
Normalizing ErieVanderbilt Law Review
2016 "This Article argues that the Erie doctrine should be normalized by bringing it into line with ordinary doctrines of federalism. Under ordinary federalism doctrines—such as the dormant commerce clause, implied preemption, federal preclusion law, and certain special “enclaves” of federal common law—courts will displace state law to protect federal interests even when neither Congress nor the Constitution clearly articulates those interests."
Selective Judicial Activism: Defending Carolene ProductsGeorgetown Journal of Law and Policy