Shaakirrah R. Sanders

Professor of Law, Lewis H. Vovakis Distinguished Faculty Scholar, and Associate Dean for Antiracism and Critical Pedagogy

Shaakirrah R. Sanders serves as Associate Dean for Antiracism and Critical Pedagogy, as the Lewis H. Vovakis Distinguished Faculty Scholar, as Professor of Law. She teaches Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, and the First Amendment.

Professor Sanders is a contributor for SCOTUSblog and has appeared on international and national broadcasts and publications, including MSNBC, CBC News, NBC News NOW, NEWSNATION, Scripps News, New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, BuzzFeed, Glamour Magazine, YahooNews!, NPR, and NPR’s All Things Considered. Her scholarship relates to felony sentencing reform, civil and criminal jury trial rights, and commercial privacy and has been published in Cornell Law Review, Wake Forest Law Review, Irvine Law Review, Washington and Lee Law Review, Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, and Hastings Law Journal among other publications. She also contributed commentary for edited collections, including Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court; Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Torts Opinions; The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law; and Mass Communication Law in Idaho.

Prior to joining the legal academy, Professor Sanders served as a judicial law clerk in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit for the Honorable Lavenski R. Smith, current Chief Judge, and in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana for the Honorable Ivan L.R. Lemelle. She also practiced in Seattle, Washington at K&L Gates and the Public Defender Association and in New Orleans, Louisiana at Locke Lord.

Professor Sanders attended Loyola University New Orleans College of Law where she served as Index/Casenote Editor on the Loyola Law Review and was named a William Crowe Scholar upon graduation. In 2004, Professor Sanders was selected as a Pegasus Scholar and participated in a legal exchange program between the United States and the United Kingdom. She received a B.S. in Psychology from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and currently serves on its Board of Fellows.

Professor Sanders has inactive bar admissions in Louisiana, New York, and Washington, as well as various federal district and circuit courts. She serves as the national board representative for Idaho, as one of three general counsels, and on the Executive Committee for the ACLU National Board. She formerly chaired the AALS Section on Constitutional Law (2018-19), AALS Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (2021-22), and the Idaho State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 2022, she was named Outstanding Scholar and Conference Honoree at the 15th Annual Lutie A. Lytle Commemorative Black Women Law Faculty Workshop and Conference and in 2020 she received the University of Idaho College of Law Diversity and Human Rights Award.

Prior to joining Penn State Dickinson Law in 2023, Professor Sanders was the first Black, African American to achieve the rank of full professor at the University of Idaho and its College of Law.

Select Publications by Professor Sanders

“Gag with Malice,” 79 Wash. & Lee Law Rev. 1715 (2023).

“Two Rules for Cross-Examination at Drug Sentencing,” 19 Ohio State J. Crim. Law 527 (2022).

The Corporate Privacy Proxy,” 105 Cornell L. Rev. 1171 (2020).

Ag-Gag Free Nation,” 54 Wake Forest L. Rev. 491 (2019).

Religious Healing Exemptions and the Jurisprudential Gap Between Substantive Due Process and Free Exercise Rights,” 8 Irvine L. Rev. 633 (2018).

Deconstructing Juryless Fact-Finding in Civil Cases,” 25 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 235 (2016), cited in Beason v. IE Miller Services, Inc., 441 P.3d 1107, 1126 n.60 (Ok. 2019) (Edmondson, J., dissenting).

Unbranding Confrontation as Only a Trial Right,” 65 Hastings L.J. 1257 (2014), cited in United States v. Lattimore, 525 F. Supp.3d 142 n., (D. D.C. 03/08/21) and State v. Zamzow, 892 N.W. 637, 651 n.7, 658 n.31, 373 Wis. 220 (Wis. 2017) (Abrahamson, J., dissenting).

Shaakirrah Sanders


Phone  717-241-3557

CV  Curriculum Vitae


Faculty Impact

J.D., cum laude, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

B.S., Trinity College

Research Interests
Confrontation rights at felony sentencing

Criminal and civil jury trial rights

Equal protection: race, gender, and sexuality

First Amendment: speech, press, association and religious freedom

Substantive due process: marriage, family autonomy, and reproductive freedom

Voting rights