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Sanders, Steve

Visiting Assistant Professor
Fall 2012

833 Legal Research
Steve Sanders, visiting assistant professor, teaches constitutional litigation, sexuality and the law, and family law. He previously taught as a lecturer at Michigan, and has also taught at the University of Chicago Law School. His current scholarship focuses on issues at the intersection of constitutional law, conflict of laws, federalism, and family law. A former administrative staff member at Indiana University Bloomington, he also has interests in higher education law and issues of academic freedom.

Prof. Sanders has articles forthcoming in the Michigan Law Review and the University of Chicago Legal Forum. He has also written for the Chronicle of Higher Education, SCOTUSblog, the National Law Journal, ACS Blog, the New Republic, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and other print and online sources. He has given papers and lectures at the law schools of Yale, Michigan, Columbia, Georgetown, Duke, NYU, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan State. His professional activities include service as a member of the litigation committee of the American Association of University Professors, and as a member of the American Political Science Association's Committee on the Status of LGBTs in the Profession.

Before coming to Michigan, Prof. Sanders practiced as a member of the Supreme Court and appellate litigation group at Mayer Brown LLP in Chicago, where he briefed and/or argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, six federal circuit courts, three state supreme courts, and various district and state courts on matters including constitutional and civil rights claims, the marriage rights of same-sex couples, and academic freedom and the First Amendment rights of universities and faculty members. He has represented, among other clients, the ACLU, the American Association of University Professors, and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, as well as numerous major corporations, partnerships, and university faculty members.

He authored a widely referenced amicus brief for 23 law and history professors in Varnum v. Brien, in which the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously struck down the state's statutory ban on same-sex marriage. In Pottawattamie County v. McGhee, he became the most-junior Mayer Brown attorney to present a U.S. Supreme Court argument in a paid client matter. He has collaborated with such noted Supreme Court practitioners and scholars as Stephen M. Shapiro, Steven R. Shapiro, Tom Goldstein, Kathleen Sullivan, and Rodney Smolla. He formerly co-edited the ABA's Appellate Practice Journal.

Prof. Sanders received his JD, magna cum laude, from Michigan Law, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and received the Bates Memorial Scholarship, the Law School's highest award to graduating seniors. He was an articles editor for the Michigan Law Review, and won prizes for best brief and best oral advocate in the Campbell Moot Court Competition. After law school he clerked for the Hon. Terence T. Evans on the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

His personal home page is at

Recent Publications

"Affirmative Action and Academic Freedom: Why the Supreme Court Should Continue Deferring to Faculty Judgments About the Value of Educational Diversity." Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality (Forthcoming).
Full Text: SSRN

"The Constitutional Right to (Keep Your) Same-Sex Marriage: Why the Due Process Protects Marriages that Cross State Lines, Even if Conflict of Laws Cannot." Mich. L. Rev. (Forthcoming)
Full Text: SSRN

"Interstate Recognition of Parent-Child Relationships: The Limits of the State Interests Paradigm and the Role of Due Process." University of Chicago Legal Forum (Forthcoming).
Full Text: SSRN