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Professor Dawinder "Dave" S. Sidhu

Dawinder S. Sidhu

Associate Professor of Law
B.A. 2000, University of Pennsylvania
M.A. 2003, Johns Hopkins University
J.D. 2004, The George Washington University
Certificate in Mediation, 2015, Northwestern University
Certificate of Leader Development, 2015, U.S. Army War College
Member of the Maryland Bar

 Curriculum Vitae SSRN

Contact Information

 Ph.: 505-277-1094
 Office: 3116


Dawinder "Dave" S. Sidhu joined the law faculty in 2011. He teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law, criminal law, and national security. From 2013-14, Sidhu served as a fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sidhu has taught at the Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Baltimore School of Law, has held visiting research posts at the Oxford University Faculty of Law and Georgetown University Law Center, and has held academic fellowships at Harvard University and Stanford University research centers. Sidhu also served as an attorney in the policy arm of the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education and was a law clerk to U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell.

Sidhu's scholarship has been cited by the Solicitor General of the United States and the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, among others, and has been cited in briefs submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States, among other courts. Sidhu has written commentary for leading publications and blogs, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, SCOTUSblog, The Atlantic, and The New Republic. He has been pro bono counsel in cases before the Supreme Court of the United States and federal courts of appeal.

At the law school, Sidhu serves as the faculty advisor to the New Mexico Law Review and the American Constitution Society and Federalist Society student groups. He founded the law school's chapter of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, which allows law students to teach civics to high school students in the Albuquerque community. He served as a legal observer of the military commissions at Guantanamo, and has made it possible for law students to visit GTMO for this purpose.

Constitutional Rights

This course involves an in-depth inquiry into the building blocks of civil rights law; freedom of expression (speech and press), equal protection, due process, and religious freedom. There will be discussion of litigation strategy and the decision-making processes of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Criminal Law I

This course considers the general principles of substantive criminal law and evaluates them in terms of the various purposes that justify a system of criminal punishment. It will include an analysis of the doctrines of mens rea attempt, complicity, and conspiracy as well as certain crimes such as homicide and certain defenses such as self-defense.

Introduction to Constitutional Law

This course is an introduction to the study of Constitutional Law. The focus will be on the structural framework established by the Constitution, including principles of federalism and the role of the Supreme Court in policing the constitutional order. Among other things, we will study the doctrine of judicial review, the reach of federal legislative power, limits on the reach of state power, the workings of the Supreme Court, and separation of powers and limits on the exercise of federal judicial power.

National Security Law

This seminar explores the fundamental constitutional and legal issues that arise in the national security context. It examines, among other things, the scope of executive wartime power, the role of the courts in times of war, the use of the writ of habeas corpus to challenge unlawful detention, and the rights and experiences of those targeted by governmental national security initiatives. Students will study historical moments, such as the Civil War and World War II, in which these issues are implicated, as well as important post-9/11 developments in the national security arena.

Sentencing Theory and Practice

This course explores the theories of criminal punishment, the criminal sentencing process, and contemporary issues in sentencing. Students first will analyze the traditional justifications for criminal punishment: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. With this philosophical foundation in place, students will then participate in sentencing exercises. In particular, students will simulate the sentencing process by taking turns drafting pre-sentence reports, acting as prosecution, and serving as defense counsel in weekly cases. These cases will be drawn from actual criminal matters and will span various criminal contexts, including drugs, homicide, and fraud. As a part of these simulations, students will learn to apply the federal Sentencing Guidelines and will debate whether the sentences advised under the Guidelines are consistent with the underlying purposes of criminal punishment. The semester closes with discussions of systemic sentencing issues, such as racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Representative Publications and Essays

Moneyball Sentencing, 56 B.C. L. Rev. ____ (forthcoming, 2015)

Judicial Modesty in the Wartime Context, 39 J. S. Ct. Hist. 190 (2014)

Spatial Terrorism, 41 Fordham Urb. L. J. 79 (2014).

Lessons on Terrorism and "Mistaken Identity" From Oak Creek, With a Coda on the Boston Marathon Bombings, 113 Colum. L. Rev. Sidebar 76 (2013).

The Unconstitutionality of Urban Poverty, 62 DePaul L. Rev. 1 (2012).

Religious Freedom and Inmate Grooming Standards, 66 U. Miami L. Rev. 923 (2012).

Out of Sight, Out of Legal Recourse: Interpreting and Revising Title VII to Prohibit Workplace Segregation Premised on Religion, 36 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 103 (2012).

Shadowing the Flag: Extending the Habeas Writ Beyond Guantánamo, 20 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 39 (2011).

First Korematsu and now Ashcroft v. Iqbal: The Latest Chapter in the Wartime Supreme Court's Disregard for Claims of Discrimination, 58 Buff. L. Rev. 419 (2010).

Are Blue and Pink the New Brown? The Permissibility of Sex-Segregated Education as Affirmative Action, 17 Cornell J. L. & Pub. Pol'y 579 (2008).


Civil Rights In Wartime: The Post-9/11 Sikh Experience (Ashgate, 2009) (with Neha Singh Gohil).

Selected Commentary

"The Birth of the Greenback," N.Y. TIMES, Dec. 31, 2013.

"Guantanamo Military Commissions: Reflections from a Legal Observer," Oxford Human Rights Hub Blog, Sept. 12, 2013 (Part I), Sept. 24, 2013 (Part II), Sept. 30, 2013 (Part III).

"Get Rid of Tenure for Law Schools," USA Today, Aug. 25, 2013.

"A Critical Look at the ‘Critical Mass' Argument," Chronicle of Higher Education, Feb. 18, 2013.

"The Meaning and Viability of the Thirteenth Amendment," The Hill, Jan. 7, 2013.

"Oak Creek and the Future of Sikhs in America", Washington Post, Oct. 2, 2012.

"In the Wake of the Temple Shootings, a New Call for Sikh Leadership", Center for Public Leadership, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Aug. 6, 2012.

"Violence against Sikhs Stems from Ignorance and Fear", Baltimore Sun, Aug. 6, 2012.

"Call the Colorado Shootings What They Were: Terrorism," Baltimore Sun, July 24, 2012.

"A Decade After 9/11, Ignorance Persists", Albuquerque Journal, Dec. 16, 2011.

"Obama's Looming Legal Trap in Afghanistan," Salon, Apr. 6, 2010.

Civil Rights and the Wartime Supreme Court, SCOTUSBlog, Feb. 22, 2010.