Peer and Sarah Pedersen Professor of Law
Professor Suja A. Thomas’s research interests include the right to a jury trial, discrimination law, civil procedure, and theories of constitutional interpretation. She is a 2023 fellow with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) and recently won CAAM’s Ready, Set, Pitch where she was awarded $10,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Professor Thomas was also a 2020 fellow with Kartemquin Films, the company that made Hoop Dreams, among other known films. She is working on a mainstream documentary film exposing significant problems with the justice system. Her book The Missing American Jury: Restoring the Fundamental Constitutional Role of the Criminal, Civil, and Grand Juries was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. Federal judge William Young asserted it is “akin to Tom Paine’s Common Sense.” Her book Unequal: How America’s Courts Undermine Discrimination Law, co-authored with Sandra Sperino, was published by Oxford University Press in 2017, discussed in The New York Times Magazine in a story on sexual harassment, positively reviewed by federal judge John McConnell, and won the Pound Civil Justice Institute Civil Justice Scholarship Award. Her article “Why Summary Judgment is Unconstitutional,” published by the Virginia Law Review, has been the basis of arguments in the federal courts and was featured in a piece in The New York Times where her argument was referred to as “perfectly plausible.” The article was also the impetus for a symposium of the Iowa Law Review. Professor Thomas’s other work has also been influential. Her article on remittitur was the basis of a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court, and a federal judge has commented that “her caution [regarding the effective elimination of the jury trial right through remittitur] merits evaluation by the federal courts.” Also, the Wall Street Journal ran an article based on her co-authored article “Employer Costs and Conflicts Under the Affordable Care Act,” published by the Cornell Law Review Online.
Professor Thomas earned her bachelor of arts from Northwestern University in mathematics and received her law degree from New York University School of Law. At N.Y.U., she served as an articles editor on the N.Y.U. Law Review and received several awards including the Leonard M. Henkin Prize for her note on equal rights under the 14th Amendment, the Mendes Hershman Prize for excellence in writing in the field of property law and the William Miller Memorial Award for outstanding scholarship in the field of municipal law. After graduating from law school and a federal clerkship in Chicago, Professor Thomas practiced law in New York City with Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C. and Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP.
Professor Thomas was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School in the fall of 2019 and at Vanderbilt University Law School in the spring of 2008. She joined the University of Illinois College of Law faculty in the fall of 2008 after being a Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
Back in the day, Professor Thomas ran several marathons, including Boston, with a personal best of 3:02. She lives in Urbana with her husband Scott and dog Suka.
Follow Professor Thomas on Twitter @sujathomas3
Professor Thomas’s website on her books, media, and events is found at sujathomas.com
JD New York University
Areas of Expertise
Juries and Jury Behavior
Law Teaching Practicum
Sports Law Seminar
Unequal: How Courts Undermine Discrimination Law (Oxford Univ. Press 2017) (with Sandra Sperino)
Articles and Essays
The Customer Caste: Lawful Discrimination by Public Businesses, 109 Calif. L. Rev. __ (Feb. 2021)
Why (Jury-Less) Juvenile Courts Are Unconstitutional, 69 Emory L.J. 273 (Fall 2019) (co-author Collin Stich)
What Timbs Does Not Say?, Geo. Wash. L. Rev. On the Docket (2019)
Reforming the Summary Judgment Problem: The Consensus Requirement, 86 Fordham L. Rev. 2241 (2018) (colloquium)
Why Summary Judgment Is Unconstitutional, 93 Va. L. Rev. 139 (2007)
The New Summary Judgment Motion: The Motion to Dismiss Under Iqbal and Twombly, 14 Lewis and Clark Law Review 15 (2010) (symposium)
Why the Motion to Dismiss Is Now Unconstitutional, 92 Minn. L. Rev. 1851 (2008)
Employer Costs and Conflicts Under the Affordable Care Act, 99 Cornell L. Rev. Online 56 (2013) (co-author Peter Molk)
How Atypical, Hard Cases Make Bad Law (See, e.g., Lack of Judicial Restraint in Twombly, Wal-Mart, and Ricci), 48 Wake Forest L. Rev. 989 (2013)
Nonincorporation, 88 Notre Dame L. Rev. 159 (2012)
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