Sisk, Gregory

Gregory Sisk

Pio Cardinal Laghi Distinguished Chair in Law and Professor

(651) 962-4923
(800) 328-6819, Ext. 2-4923

1000 LaSalle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Office Location: MSL 460

J.D., University of Washington Law School

B.A., Montana State University

Professor Sisk's Webpage

After law school, Sisk entered into public service, serving in all three branches of the federal government: legislative assistant to a United States Senator, law clerk to a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and appellate specialist with the United States Department of Justice. Subsequent to government service, he was the head of the appellate department for a Seattle law firm. As an appellate attorney, Sisk has handled appeals cases before ten of the thirteen federal courts of appeals and several state appellate courts. Sisk joined the faculty of the Drake University Law School in 1991, where he was appointed the Richard M. & Anita Calkins Distinguished Professor.

Sisk is a nationally-recognized scholar on the subjects of civil litigation with the federal government and empirical (statistical) analysis of judicial decision making; he also writes about federal courts, legal ethics, and constitutional law. He is the author of the casebook, “Litigation With the Federal Government,” which is published by Foundation Press, and a treatise by the same name, which is published by ALI-ABA. Sisk’s empirical work on court decisions was honored with the Article Prize from the Law and Society Association in 1999.

He has remained an active member of the practicing bar, primarily in appellate litigation and as an expert witness or consultant on legal ethics. In recent years, he has briefed cases before the U.S. Supreme Court on civil suits against the federal government and jurisdiction in the Court of Federal Claims. He served as reporter for the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct Drafting Committee appointed by the Iowa Supreme Court to draft the new set of ethics rules to govern lawyers in Iowa. Sisk also is an elected member of the American Law Institute.

Courses Taught

Number Title Credits

Areas of Academic Expertise:

Litigation with the Federal Government
Federal Litigation and Procedure
Empirical Studies of Judicial Decision-Making
Professional Responsibility

From the article "Grand Ideas: Faculty members describe the best ideas from their scholarship" St. Thomas Lawyer Magazine Fall 2011

Much of my scholarly work over the past decade attempts to unravel a contradiction that weaves its way through the statutes, case-law and legal theory applying to suit against the sovereign United States – that the federal government is the same and yet is not the same as every other party in civil litigation. The question is how and where to draw the line between those kinds of harm caused by government that are properly the subject for a judicial remedy by a damages judgment against the United States and those collateral, but sometimes harmful, consequences of vital or policy-oriented government operations that should be shielded from judicial review. In the past 10 years, I’ve written and had published a treatise and a casebook on “Litigation With the Federal Government” and several articles on federal sovereign immunity and government litigation struggling toward a resolution of this persistent question.

Upcoming: Preparing a new edition of my treatise, finishing an overview for a symposium, and planning an article that further addresses federal government liability.

Contributions and mentions in the media

Minnesota Lawyer - "Sisk studies faculty scholarly impact; UST ranks 38th in U.S."

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The Tennessean - "2010 Nashville flood lawsuit could be hard for companies to win"

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United States Law Week - "Supreme Court Interprets FTCA to Revive Medical Battery Claims Against Government"

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Mirror of Justice blog - "Relationship as the Antidote to Stereotype"

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Mirror of Justice blog - "Syria: An interventionist questions this proposed intervention"

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Mirror of Justice - "Long-Term Unemployment Benefits as the Paradigm of the 'Safety-Net'"

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University of Washington School of Law Faculty Colloquia - "The Legal Ethics of Real Evidence: Of Missing Emails, Child Porn, Bloody Knives, and Bags of Marijuana"

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Minnesota Lawyer - "Jury gets fee claims, but judge grants JMOL"

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Mirror of Justice - "The Korean Peninsula Today and the Moral Justifications for the Cold War"

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Mirror of Justice - "The Spirited Debate About the Role of Government and Religious Liberty Will Continue Well into the Future"

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Gregory C. Sisk & Mark S. Cady, Lawyer and Judicial Ethics: Iowa Practice (Thomson-West, 2012, 2010 and 2007 eds.).

Gregory C. Sisk, Litigation with the Federal Government: Cases and Materials (2d ed., University Casebook Series 2008).

Gregory Sisk, Litigation with the Federal Government (4th ed., ALI-ABA 2006).


Michael Heise & Gregory C. Sisk, Free Exercise of Religion Before the Bench: Empirical Evidence from the Federal Courts, 88 Notre Dame L. Rev. (forthcoming 2013).

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Gregory C. Sisk & Michael Heise, Muslims and Religious Liberty in the Era of 9/11: Empirical Evidence from the Federal Courts, 98 Iowa L. Rev. 231 (2012).

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Gregory C. Sisk, The Jurisdiction of the Court of Federal Claims and Forum-Shopping in Money Claims Against the Federal Government, 88 Ind. L.J. (forthcoming 2012).

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Gregory C. Sisk & Michael Heise, Ideology ‘All the Way Down’? An Empirical Study of Establishment Clause Decisions in the Federal Courts, 110 Mich. L. Rev. 1201(2012).

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Michael Heise & Gregory C. Sisk, Religion, Schools, and Judicial Decision Making: An Empirical Perspective, 79 U. Chi. L. Rev. 187 (2012).

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Gregory C. Sisk, Foreword: Official Wrongdoing and the Civil Liability of the Federal Government and Officers, 8 U. St. Thomas L.J. 295 (2012).

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Gregory C. Sisk, Lifting the Blindfold From Lady Justice: Allowing Judges To See the Structure in the Judicial Code, 62 Fla. L. Rev. 457 (2010).

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Gregory C. Sisk & Pamela Abbate, The Dynamic Attorney-Client Privilege, 23 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 201 (2010).

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Gregory C. Sisk & Nicholas Halbur, A Ticking Time Bomb? University Data Privacy Policies and Attorney-Client Confidentiality in Law School Settings, 2010 Utah L. Rev. 1277 (2010).

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Gregory C. Sisk, The Inevitability of Federal Sovereign Immunity, 55 Vill. L. Rev. 899 (2010).

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Gregory C. Sisk, Returning to the Pruneyard: The Unconstitutionality of State-Sanctioned Trespass in the Name of Speech, 32 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 389 (2009).

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Gregory C. Sisk, The Continuing Drift of Federal Sovereign Immunity Jurisprudence, 50 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 517 (2008).

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Gregory C. Sisk, Uprooting the Pruneyard, 38 Rutgers L.J. 1145 (2008).

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Gregory Sisk, The Quantitative Moment and the Qualitative Opportunity: Legal Studies of Judicial Decisionmaking, 93 Cornell L. Rev. 873 (2008) (reviewing Frank B. Cross, Decision Making in the U.S. Courts of Appeals (2007)).

Gregory C. Sisk, Change and Continuity in Attorney-Client Confidentiality: The New Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct, 55 Drake L. Rev. 347 (2007).

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Gregory C. Sisk, John Paul II: The Quintessential Religious Witness in the Public Square, 45 J. Cath. Legal Stud. 241 (2007).

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Gregory C. Sisk, A Primer on the Doctrine of Federal Sovereign Immunity, 58 Okla. L. Rev. 439 (2005).

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Gregory C. Sisk, The Willful Judging of Harry Blackmun, 70 Mo. L. Rev. 1049 (2005).

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Gregory C. Sisk, How Traditional and Minority Religions Fare in the Courts: Empirical Evidence from Religious Liberty Cases, 76 U. Colo. L. Rev. 1021 (2005).

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Gregory C. Sisk, A Primer on Civil Discovery Against the Federal Government, 52 Fed. Law. 28 (2005).

Gregory C. Sisk & Michael Heise, Judges and Ideology: Public and Academic Debates about Statistical Measures, 99 Nw. U. L. Rev. 743 (2005).

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Andrew P. Morriss, Michael Heise, & Gregory C. Sisk, Signaling and Precedent in Federal District Court Opinions, 13 Sup. Ct. Econ. Rev. 63 (2005).

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Gregory C. Sisk, Abortion, Bishops, Eucharist, and Politicians: A Question of Communion, 43 Cath. Law. 255 (2004).

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Gregory C. Sisk, The Trial Courts of the Federal Circuit: Diversity by Design, 13 Fed. Cir. B.J. 241 (2004).

Gregory C. Sisk, Andrew P. Morriss, & Michael Heise, Searching for the Soul of Judicial Decision-Making: An Empirical Study of Religious Freedom Decisions, 65 Ohio St. L.J. 491 (2004).

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Gregory C. Sisk, Yesterday and Today: Of Indians, Breach of Trust, Money, and Sovereign Immunity, 39 Tulsa L. Rev. 313 (2003).

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Gregory C. Sisk, The Tapestry Unravels: Statutory Waivers of Sovereign Immunity and Money Claims Against the United States, 71 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 602 (2003). 

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Gregory C. Sisk, Suspending the Pardon Power During the Twilight of a Presidential Term, 67 Mo. L. Rev. 13 (2002).

Frank Cross, Michael Heise, & Gregory C. Sisk, Above the Rules: A Response to Epstein and King, 69 U. Chi. L. Rev. 135 (2002).

Gregory C. Sisk, Teaching Litigation with the Federal Government, 49 J. Legal Educ. 275 (1999).

Gregory C. Sisk, Iowa’s Legal Ethics Rules – It’s Time to Join the Crowd, 47 Drake L. Rev.  279 (1999).

Gregory C. Sisk, Andrew P. Morriss, & Michael Heise, Charting the Influences on the Judicial Mind: An Empirical Study of Judicial Reasoning, 73 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1377 (1998).

Gregory C. Sisk, Stating the Obvious: Protecting Religion for Religion’s Sake, 47 Drake L. Rev. 45 (1998).

Gregory C. Sisk & Jerry L. Anderson, The Sun Sets on Federal Common Law: Corporate Successor Liability under CERCLA After O’Melveny & Meyers, 16 Va. Envtl. L.J. 505 (1997).

Gregory C. Sisk, The Balkanization of Appellate Justice: The Proliferation of Local Rules in the Federal Circuits, 68 U. Colo. L. Rev. 1 (1997).

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Gregory C. Sisk, The Essentials of the Equal Access to Justice Act: Court Awards of Attorney’s Fees for Unreasonable Government Conduct (Part Two), 56 La. L. Rev. 1 (1995).

Gregory C. Sisk, Comparative Fault and Common Sense, 30 Gonz. L. Rev. 29 (1995).

Gregory C. Sisk, The Essentials of the Equal Access to Justice Act: Court Awards of Attorney’s Fees for Unreasonable Government Conduct (Part One), 55 La. L. Rev. 217 (1995).

Gregory C. Sisk, Questioning Dialogue by Judicial Decree: A Different Theory of Constitutional Review and Moral Discourse, 46 Rutgers L. Rev. 1691 (1994).

Gregory C. Sisk, A Primer on Awards of Attorney’s Fees Against the Federal Government, 25 Ariz. St. L.J. 733 (1993).

Gregory C. Sisk, Interpretation of the Statutory Modification of Joint and Several Liability: Resisting the Deconstruction of Tort Reform, 16 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 1 (1992).

Gregory C. Sisk, Recovery for Emotional Distress under the Warsaw Convention: The Elusive Search for the French Legal Meaning of Lesion Corporelle, 25 Tex. Int’l L.J. 127 (1990).

Gregory C. Sisk, The Constitutional Validity of the Modification of Joint and Several Liability in the Washington Tort Reform Act of 1986, 13 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 433 (1990).

Gregory C. Sisk, Two Proposals to Clarify the Tucker Act Jurisdiction of the Claims Court, 37 Fed. Bar News & J. 47 (1990).

Gregory C. Sisk, Tucker Act Appeals to the Federal Circuit, 36 Fed. Bar News & J. 41 (1989).

Gregory C. Sisk, Interim Attorney’s Fees Awards Against the Federal Government, 68 N.C. L. Rev. 117 (1989).

Gregory C. Sisk, Comment, Toward a Unified Reasonable Use Approach to Water Drainage in Washington, 59 Wash. L. Rev. 61 (1983). 

Gregory C. Sisk, Twilight for the Strict Construction of Waivers of Federal Sovereign Immunity, North Carolina Law Review (forthcoming 2014) 

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Short Pieces

Gregory Sisk, Has the United States Waived Sovereign Immunity Through the Tucker Act for Damages Claims Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act?, in PREVIEW of United States Supreme Court Cases (ABA, 2012).

Gregory Sisk, The Classic Tension Between the Zealous Advocate and the Officer of the Court, Iowa Law., Nov. 2010, at 10.

Gregory Sisk, Rules and Morality: What a Lawyer Must Do Versus What He/She Should Do, Iowa Law., Apr. 2009, at 12.

Gregory Sisk, United States v. Navajo Nation: When May a Tribe Seek Damages from the Government for Breach of Trust?, in PREVIEW of United States Supreme Court Cases (ABA 2008).

Gregory Sisk, Dangers of Crossing the Lines of Professionalism and Civility in the Name of Zealous Advocacy, Iowa Law., Mar. 2008, at 10.

Gregory C. Sisk, Judges Are Human, Too, 83 Judicature 178 (2000).

Encyclopedia Entries

Gregory Sisk, Private Property (Expression on), in Encyclopedia of the First Amendment (CQ Press 2008).

Gregory Sisk, Standing, in Encyclopedia of the United States Constitution (Facts on File 2007).

Gregory Sisk, Ripeness, in Encyclopedia of the United States Constitution (Facts on File 2007).