Research News

TIPSHEET: Vanderbilt experts can talk about Supreme Court justice search

As the Obama administration researches candidates to succeed retiring Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens, Vanderbilt experts are ready to weigh in on Justice Stevens, the Supreme Court and the list of potential nominees.

Suzanna Sherry, Herman O. Loewenstein Professor of Law, is an expert on judicial behavior, the Supreme Court, constitutional law and constitutional history. 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. She can talk about Justice Stevens’ judicial career and why he’s the “last of a breed.” She can also talk about what the president should be looking for in a justice and what it means to be an “activist” judge.

Tracey George, professor of law and political science, has done extensive empirical research on the Supreme Court and the federal courts, including the behavior of federal judges and courts. George can talk about judicial selection, both President Ford’s decision to nominate Justice Stevens and what factors President Obama and the Senate should consider for this nominee. George and Vanderbilt Law School Dean Chris Guthrie recently published research on “Remaking the United States Supreme Court in the Courts’ of Appeals Image.” They argue that Congress should increase the number of Supreme Court justices and then allow the justices to split into smaller panels to make decisions, thus expanding the Court’s decision-making capacity. (abstract )

Brian Fitzpatrick, assistant professor of law. Fitzpatrick researches judicial politics and judicial selection and is an expert on the Senate confirmation process. He can talk about the role senators play in influencing the process even before the President nominates someone. He can also discuss the individual list of Supreme Court candidates. Fitzpatrick served as a law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia in 2001-2002 and as a Special Counsel for Supreme Court Nominations to Sen. John Cornyn in 2005-2006. Short list candidate Elena Kagan was one of Fitzpatrick’s law school professors.

Terry Maroney, associate professor of law . Maroney is a leading scholarof emotion’s influence on law. She is available to discuss the role of judicial “empathy” and emotion, which emerged as a major issue in the Sotomayor confirmation and is likely to recur in this year’s process. Maroney has written, for example, about how Supreme Court Justices’ emotions color their rulings in constitutional cases(abstract at ) She’s also an expert in the Court’s criminal law jurisprudence, including juvenile cases. Maroney served as a law clerk on the influential Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, is a member of the Supreme Court bar, and has co-authored briefs in a number of high-profile cases before the Court, including for the University of Michigan in the affirmative action cases.

[Media Note: Vanderbilt has a 24/7 TV and radio studio with a dedicated fiber optic line and ISDN line. Use of the TV studio with Vanderbilt experts is free, except for reserving fiber time. All these experts have TV and radio experience. High res pictures are available at .]

Media Contact: Amy Wolf, (615) 322-NEWS