Sherry F. Colb
Sherry F. Colb

Until her death in August 2022, Sherry F. Colb was the C.S. Wong Professor of Law at Cornell University. Colb taught courses in constitutional criminal procedure, evidence, and animal rights. She published articles in a variety of law reviews, including Stanford, Columbia, N.Y.U., and G.W., on such topics as privacy from police searches, incarceration, reproductive rights, and why courts are more offended by wrongdoing that results in concrete rather than abstract harm. Colb's most recent book, Beating Hearts: Abortion and Animal Rights (co-authored with Michael C. Dorf), addresses some of the common puzzles, themes, and challenges that animate and confront both the pro-life and animal rights movements. She also published a book about sex equality in the Twenty-First Century, entitled When Sex Counts, and a book about veganism entitled Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger?, which is also available on Audible. Before beginning her career in law teaching, Colb clerked for Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court. She received her J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and her A.B. summa cum laude and valedictorian from Columbia College.

Columns by Sherry F. Colb
Ohio Considers Banning Abortions Motivated by Down Syndrome

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses an Ohio bill currently under consideration that would ban abortions motivated by the presentation of Down syndrome by an embryo or fetus. Colb argues that a woman’s right to make decisions over her bodily integrity includes the right to make a decision on a basis that some or most people might find offensive.

Who Counts as a Woman? The Court of Arbitration for Sport Provides an Answer

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses possible implications a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that a woman’s having a naturally high level of testosterone in her body is insufficient grounds for barring her from competing in women’s athletics.

The Sixth Circuit Says No to “Butt Dial” Privacy

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb analyzes a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit holding that when a person with a cellphone inadvertently calls a third party, thereby exposing personal communications, the caller retains no reasonable expectation of privacy in the matters disclosed for purposes of the federal Wiretap Act.

What Reactions to the Undercover Planned Parenthood Video Tell Us About Our Values

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb draws upon the outrage many people felt in response to a video allegedly showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal body parts and tissue from abortions (video that was subsequently revealed to be edited so as to be intentionally misleading) in order to discuss a different area in which tissue and parts are bought and sold without evoking such broad outrage.

Delayed Trials for Fairer Outcomes?

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses a proposal by Adam Benforado, author of Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Justice, that one way to improve the criminal justice system would be to conduct and record trials outside of the jury’s presence, then to show edited versions of the recordings to juries after all of the evidence has been presented. Colb explains how this proposal could potentially improve the system and addresses some potential obstacles to its implementation.

What City of Los Angeles v. Patel Might Tell Us About Abortion

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in City of Los Angeles v. Patel, in which the Court held facially unconstitutional a statute requiring hotel operators to record, keep, and disclose upon demand by law enforcement certain information about their guests. Colb argues that the Court’s reliance on Planned Parenthood v. Casey to find the statute unconstitutional reinforces the link between substantive and procedural privacy.

The Shrinking Fourth Amendment: Heien v. North Carolina

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses the potential downsides of the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding earlier this year in Heien v. North Carolina, in which the Court held that a police officer could, consistent with the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizures, stop a driver for a behavior that the officer mistakenly but reasonably believes is illegal.

Competing Values in the Conviction of a Woman for Feticide

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses a recent criminal case out of Indiana, in which a woman was convicted and sentenced for feticide. Colb argues that while the situation as a whole is a tragedy, it also highlights a failure of the State of Indiana to have empathy for women in pain whose circumstances call for mercy rather than a pure retributive impulse.

How Breast Exams Are Like Dog Sniffs

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb compares medical screening tests with dog sniffs for narcotics with respect to their propensity to yield Type I errors—also known as false positives. In particular, Colb references Justice Souter’s dissenting opinion in Illinois v. Caballes, in which he opined that the possibility that dogs would incorrectly indicate the presence of narcotics and lead to an invasive search meant that such dog sniffs constitute searches for Fourth Amendment purposes.

The U.S. Supreme Court Considers Extending a Traffic Stop for a Dog Sniff

Sherry Colb, law professor at Cornell University, discusses a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court will decide whether, after completing a routine traffic stop, a police officer may briefly delay the release of the driver to permit a dog to sniff for narcotics.