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Emory Law News Center

Faculty and Scholarship

Tonja Jacobi joins Emory Law faculty, bringing expertise in SCOTUS

A. Kenyatta Greer |

This fall, Emory Law will welcome Tonja Jacobi to the faculty as the Sam Nunn Chair in Ethics and Professionalism, upon university confirmation. Her research centers on judging, particularly Supreme Court judicial behavior and public law. She uses a combination of doctrinal, empirical, and formal analysis to examine how judges respond to institutional constraints.

Jacobi is currently a professor of law at Northwestern Pritzker Law School. She holds a PhD in political science from Stanford University, a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, a law degree with first class honors and an undergraduate degree with first class honors, both from the Australian National University.

Her research centers on judging, particularly Supreme Court judicial behavior and public law and constitutional criminal procedure. Professor Jacobi’s high-impact research has been cited more than 1500 times, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor has cited Jacobi’s "Justice, Interrupted" as having influenced the U.S. Supreme Court’s approach to oral arguments. 

"My work focuses on the Supreme Court and how they fit within the legal and political system. It raises important issues of legitimacy and the role of the court in shaping the most divisive issues," she explained. "I also write extensively in constitutional criminal procedure from various perspectives: doctrinal, empirical, and some game theory."

Joanna M. Shepherd, vice dean and Thomas Simmons Professor of Law, shared her anticipation over Jacobi’s hire. "We are so excited that Tonja Jacobi is joining the Emory Law faculty. Professor Jacobi is one of the most accomplished and influential scholars in the areas of judicial politics, judicial and advocate behavior, and criminal procedure. Her rigorous empirical work has been path-breaking and impactful, not just in the academy but in the judiciary as well. The faculty is fortunate to have her as a new colleague, and I know she will have a tremendous influence on our students."

During her seventeen years as an academic, Jacobi has been published in more than fifty peer reviewed journals, law review journals, and academic books. She also regularly writes Op Eds in periodicals such as the Washington Post and the New York Times and has written in numerous other forums, such as SCOTUSBlog, Forbes, Aeon, and Harvard Business Review. In the last year, Jacobi had a series of three related Op Eds published on Supreme Court reform, congressional reform, and election reform in Bloomberg, as well as publications in the New York Times and the Washington Post about Supreme Court oral arguments and the Court’s approach to criminal procedure.

"I came to give a talk at Emory about four years ago and had such a wonderful experience with an engaged, positive audience. I thought then what a good place it would be to work. Emory has a generally amazing reputation. I know and have good relationships with a few members of the faculty there, and the strength of your public law faculty is astonishing. I believe I will contribute to that high standing."

Jacobi will join Emory in July 2022, adding her expertise to Emory Law’s strategic focus on research and teaching related to litigation and ethics.