- (812) 855-1775
- Baier Hall 263
- Indiana University A.B.
- University of Michigan J.D.
- Recipient of IU Trustees Teaching Award, 2017
- Has litigated in federal and state courts at all levels, including briefs and oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court
- Former attorney with the global law firm Mayer Brown LLP
- Clerked for the Hon. Terence T. Evans, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- Magna cum laude graduate, University of Michigan Law School
Steve Sanders teaches Constitutional Law, Family Law, Constitutional Litigation (the law of Section 1983 actions for constitutional torts), Conflict of Laws, and seminars on constitutional interpretation and judicial review. His scholarship focuses on questions arising out of the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process, with a special focus on issues affecting LGBTQ persons and same-sex couples. His work has been cited by, among others, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, federal district court opinions, and briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous other courts. He has been designated a Henry H.H. Remak Distinguished Scholar by IU's Institute for Advanced Study, and has been recognized with an IU Trustees Teaching Award and by vote of the Law School's students as "Outstanding Interactive Professor."
Sanders began his career as an administrative staff member at IU Bloomington, serving as assistant to the chancellor and assistant dean of the College of Arts Sciences. He then earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan, magna cum laude, where he was an articles editor on the law review and received the Bates Memorial Scholarship, the law school's highest award to graduating seniors. He clerked for the Hon. Terence T. Evans of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sanders practiced for four years with the Supreme Court and appellate litigation group at Mayer Brown LLP in Chicago, where he became the firm's most-junior attorney to present a U.S. Supreme Court argument in a paid client matter. Before coming to Indiana, he taught at the University of Chicago Law School as a lecturer and at Michigan Law as a visiting assistant professor.
In addition to his scholarship and teaching, Sanders has participated in groundbreaking litigation. On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign, he co-authored an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which established nationwide marriage equality for gays and lesbians. A case he litigated in the Indiana Court of Appeals in 2013 led to the first published opinion by any court in the United States holding that a spouse's gender transition did not affect the validity of an existing marriage. He has represented the ACLU, the American Association of University Professors, and groups of scholars and scientists as amici curiae in the U.S. Supreme Court, two federal courts of appeals, and three state supreme courts.
Sanders's writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and SCOTUSBlog, among many other print and online outlets. He has appeared on MSNBC and public radio's To the Point, is a regular legal analyst for Bloomberg Radio, and is frequently quoted by print and online news media about matters of constitutional law, LGBTQ rights, and the Supreme Court.
In The Media
- Quoted in "Alito defends SCOTUS at Notre Dame," Ndiana Lawyer ( 10-13-2021 )
- Quoted in "Vaccine mandates still contested issue inside law offices, courts as president prepares requirements," The Indiana Lawyer ( 09-29-2021 )
- Quoted in "Indiana University's COVID vaccination mandate now includes an ethical exemption," The Herald Times ( 07-28-2021 )
- Wrote an article titled "Relationship check-in: LGBTQ people and the Supreme Court," American Constitution Society Expert Forum ( 06-30-2021 )
- Interviewed in "Religious rights win out in clash with gay rights," Bloomberg ( 06-19-2021 )
- Quoted in "SCOTUS watchers anticipate Coney Barrett's conservative influence on summer cases," Indiana Public Media ( 06-11-2021 )
- Featured in "Meriwether v. Shawnee State: Is all classroom speech free speech?," The Academic Freedom Podcast ( 06-08-2021 )
- Quoted in "IU law professor says teacher's appeal in same-sex marriage case could be tough," WISH-TV ( 05-09-2021 )
- Featured in "Prof. Steve Sanders discusses a SCOTUS case between TX and CA over LGBT rights and religious liberty," Bloomberg Law ( 05-03-2021 )
- Quoted in "Chesterton flag flap reminds former teacher of poster complaint two decades ago," Chicago Tribune ( 04-16-2021 )
- Wrote a blog post titled "Pronouns, 'academic freedom,' and conservative judicial activism," American Constitution Society Expert Forum ( 04-12-2021 )
- Mentioned in "As Indiana's statewide mask mandate ends, you still have to mask up in many places," The Indianapolis Star ( 04-06-2021 )
- Quoted in "As statewide mask mandate ends, businesses can still require masks," The Indianapolis Star ( 04-05-2021 )
- Quoted in "Day 1: IU law professor weighs in on Trump impeachment trial," WTHR ( 02-09-2021 )
- Interviewed in "Supreme Court may slight gay couples in foster care," Bloomberg ( 11-13-2020 )
- Quoted in "Trump plans to nominate Indiana federal prosecutor to succeed Amy Coney Barrett on appeals court," Chicago Tribune ( 10-22-2020 )
- Interviewed in "Will the liberal justices find new alliances?," Bloomberg Law ( 10-12-2020 )
- Quoted in "What happens if the president is too sick to perform his duties?," The Herald Times ( 10-06-2020 )
- Quoted in "Amy Coney Barrett's record with main issues facing SCOTUS," WTTV ( 09-28-2020 )
- Quoted in "Removing the Jordan name," Inside Higher Ed ( 09-28-2020 )
- Quoted in "Trump nominates conservative Amy Coney Barrett for court," The Indiana Lawyer ( 09-25-2020 )
- Quoted in "If elected, who would Joe Biden pick for the Supreme Court?," Newsweek ( 09-22-2020 )
- Quoted in "Amy Coney Barrett, a proven conservative on Trump's Supreme Court short list," CNN ( 09-21-2020 )
- Quoted in "IU experts recall Ginsburg's influence, criticize rush to replace," The Herald Times ( 09-19-2020 )
- Quoted in "Why doesn't Indiana punish violators of its coronavirus mask mandate?," Indiana Public Media ( 08-20-2020 )
- Quoted in "Does governor have authority to enforce mask mandate? Legal experts weigh in," Indiana Public Media ( 08-07-2020 )
- Quoted in "What we know about Lutheran High School trainer who says she was fired for being gay," The Indianapolis Star ( 07-10-2020 )
- Quoted in "How SCOTUS ruling could affect cases of educators fired from Roncalli over same-sex marriages," The Indianapolis Star ( 07-08-2020 )
- Quoted in "Policy may bar transgender students from Catholic schools in central and southern Indiana," The Indianapolis Star ( 06-24-2020 )
- Appeared in a podcast titled "A watershed moment for gay rights," Bloomberg ( 06-19-2020 )
- Interviewed in "Supreme court says gay, transgender workers protected by federal law forbidding discrimination," The Washington Post ( 06-15-2020 )
- Quoted in "Can a business require you to wear a face mask to enter in Indiana? What you should know.," The Indianapolis Star ( 05-29-2020 )
- Quoted in "Trump faces roadblocks with threat to adjourn Congress," The Hill ( 04-16-2020 )
- Quoted in "Trump threatens to adjourn Congress during a pandemic because Congress hasn't confirmed one of his nominees," Business Insider ( 04-15-2020 )
- Appeared in a podcast titled "Supreme Court appears divided in abortion case," Bloomberg ( 03-05-2020 )
- Wrote an op-ed titled "Ball State erred in handling of professor," Indianapolis Business Journal ( 02-27-2020 )
- Quoted in "Goshen College didn't want her coaching because she's gay. Now she's in the Super Bowl," USA Today ( 01-28-2020 )
- Wrote an op-ed titled "Let's try treating college students like adults," Indianapolis Business Journal ( 01-24-2020 )
- Spoke in a podcast "Justices struggle with international child custody," Bloomberg ( 12-23-2019 )
- Wrote an op-ed titled "Mayor Pete, McKinsey, and dishonesty on the left," Indianapolis Business Journal ( 12-20-2019 )
- Referred to in "Panel to continue conversation about Farmers' Market," Indiana Public Media ( 12-06-2019 )
- Quoted in "The professor's views are loathsome, stupid, and ignorant, the provost said. But he won't be fired," The Chronicle of Higher Education ( 11-22-2019 )
- Wrote an article titled "We have a living constitution. Do we need the ERA?," Indianapolis Business Journal ( 11-22-2019 )
- Quoted in "University says a professor’s views are racist, sexist and homophobic — but it can’t fire him," The Washington Post ( 11-22-2019 )
- Wrote an op-ed titled "In the marketplace of ideas, does truth really prevail?," Indianapolis Business Journal ( 10-25-2019 )
- Wrote an op-ed titled "Those college students who used the n-word shouldn't have been arrested," The New York Times ( 10-25-2019 )
- Dignity and Social Meaning: Obergefell, Windsor, and Lawrence as Constitutional Dialogue, 87 FORDLAM L. REV. 2069 (2019).
- The Cultural Politics of Dan Quayle and Mike Pence, 52 IND. L. REV. 69 (2019).
- Religious Arguments, Religious Purposes, and the Gay and Lesbian Rights Cases, 17 FIRST AM. L. REV. 237 (2018).
- Making It Up: Lessons for Equal Protection Doctrine from the Use and Abuse of Hypothesized Purposes in the Marriage Equality Litigation, 68 HASTINGS L.J. 657 (2017).
- Pavan v. Smith: Equality for Gays and Lesbians in Being Married, Not Just in Getting Married, AMER. CONST. SOC. S. CT. REV. 2016-2017
- Race, Restructurings, and Equal Protection Doctrine Through the Lens of Schuette v. BAMN, 81 BROOK. L. REV. 1393 (2016).
- RFRAs and Reasonableness, 91 IND. L.J. 243 (2016).
- Book Review: Somin, Ilya, Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter, 1 J. CIVIC LITERACY (July 2014).
- Mini-DOMAs As Political Process Failures: The Case for Heightened Scrutiny of State Anti-Gay Marriage Amendments, 109 NW. U.L. REV. ONLINE 12 (2014).
- India, Nepal, and Pakistan: A Unique South Asian Constitutional Discourse on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (with Sean Dickson), in SOCIAL DIFFERENCE AND CONSTITUTIONALISM IN PAN-ASIA (Susan Williams, ed.) (Cambridge University Press 2014).
- Is the Full Faith and Credit Clause Still "Irrelevant" to Same-Sex Marriage?: Toward a Reconsideration of the Conventional Wisdom, 89 IND. L.J. 95 (2014).
- Affirmative Action and Academic Freedom: Why the Supreme Court Should Continue Deferring to Faculty Judgments About the Value of Educational Diversity, 1 IND. J.L. SOC. EQ. Art. 2 (2013).
- The Constitutional Right to (Keep Your) Same-Sex Marriage, 110 MICH. L.REV. 1421 (2012).
- Interstate Recognition of Parent-Child Relationships: The Limits of the State Interests Paradigm and the Role of Due Process, 2011 U. CHI. LEGAL F. 233 (2011).
Areas of Expertise
- Civil rights
- Constitutional law
- Family law
- LGBT issues
- US Supreme Court