Judge Jeffrey Sutton Speaks to Regent Law Students About Equal Justice & New Book
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (September 30, 2020) – U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, J.D., addressed Regent University law students about the newly released book, The Essential Scalia: On the Constitution, the Courts, and the Rule of Law.
Sutton, who serves as a senior lecturing fellow with Regent University School of Law, co-edited the book with Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics & Public Policy Center. Both men are distinguished former law clerks to the late Justice Scalia. The book is a collection of opinions, lectures, and articles by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Sutton discussed the transformative way Scalia interpreted law — an approach that accepts the Constitution as having no less or more meaning than what it meant to those who penned and signed it.
“He was the foremost proponent of textualism and originalism in the last 100 years,” explained Sutton. “A central point of his career was to recover an approach to interpretation that the justices had all used for the first 150 years of American history.”
Sutton expressed particular respect that Scalia “left rules of which he could be judged … clear rules to judge whether he was doing this correctly.”
He added, “The most important question for any judge or justice is this: What is it that proves from case A to case B to case C that you are doing something other than favoring the party, or the cause, or the interests you care most about? That’s not the point of being a judge. The rule of law is beyond the judge. Our obligation, our duty, and our oath is to apply it consistently from case to case.” Sutton pointed to Scalia’s emphatic belief that equal justice under the law is “one thing that matters in law.”
Throughout his service as a judge, a guiding question for Sutton has been this: “A hundred years from now … What judges or justices will still be mentioned in the law school class?” He quickly pointed to Ginsburg for her role as a women’s rights activist and Scalia for his commitment to textualism and his ability to communicate with clarity and conviction.
“We are grateful to Judge Sutton for sharing firsthand accounts of his personal experiences with the late Justice Scalia as brilliantly described in this new book,” added Regent Law Dean and former North Carolina Chief Justice Mark Martin. “An important component of the Regent Law experience is providing our students with opportunities to interact with judges who are deciding real-life cases.”
Since 2003, Sutton has served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Prior to that, he was the State Solicitor of Ohio and a partner at Jones Day in Columbus, Ohio. He has argued 12 cases before the United States Supreme Court and numerous cases before the state supreme courts and federal courts of appeal. Additionally, Sutton served as a law clerk to Justices Lewis F. Powell Jr. and Antonin Scalia, as well as Judge Thomas Meskill of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Scalia called Sutton “one of the very best law clerks I ever had.”
Regent University School of Law’s more than 3,300 graduates practice law in 49 states and over 20 countries and include 38 currently sitting judges. The School of Law currently ranks in the top 25 percent of all law schools for obtaining judicial clerkships and ranked 20th in the nation for Ultimate Bar Passage in 2019. The school offers the Juris Doctor (J.D.) in three-year and part-time formats, an online M.A. in Law, an online M.A. in Financial Planning & Law, an on-campus and online LL.M. in Human Rights and an on-campus and online LL.M. in American Legal Studies.
Founded in 1978, Regent University has more than 11,000 students studying on its 70-acre campus in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and online around the world. The university offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from a Christian perspective in 135+ areas of study including business, communication and the arts, counseling, cybersecurity, divinity, education, government, law, leadership, nursing, healthcare and psychology. Regent University, ranked among top national universities (U.S. News & World Report, 2020), is one of only 23 universities nationally to receive an “A” rating for its comprehensive liberal arts core curriculum.