This group of judges includes the only Article I judge, Judge Margaret Ryan of the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, who unlike the others does not serve a life term of office. The other judges on this list – Newsom, Pryor, Stras, and Sykes – are Article III Court of Appeals judges with a liftetime appointment.
Kevin C. Newsom
46 y.o., married to Deborah Wilgus Newsom, and has two sons. Raised by a single mother as his alcoholic father was mostly absent. Sister has a rare genetic disorder called Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome which left her physically and mentally disabled.
Judge, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Appointed by President Trump in 2017 and confirmed on August 1, 2017
Samford University, B.A. summa cum laude, 1994
Harvard Law School, J.D. magna cum laude, 1997
Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1997-1998
Justice David H. Souter, Supreme Court of the United States, 2000-2001
Associate, Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, D.C., 1998-2000, 2001-2003
Adjunct professor of law, Georgetown University Law Center, 2002
Solicitor general, State of Alabama, 2003-2007
Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Birmingham, Alabama, 2007-2017
Adjunct professor, Samford University, Cumberland School of Law, 2009-2011
Adjunct professor, Vanderbilt University Law School, 2011
Suspicionless drug testing and the Fourth Amendment: Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 115 S. Ct. 2386, 19 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 209 (1995)
Constitutional Law. Establishment Clause. Seventh Circuit Invalidates Illinois Law Mandating Good Friday School Closure. Metzl v. Leininger, 57 F.3d 618 (7th Cir. 1995), 109 Harv. L. Rev. 693 (1996)
The Supreme Court, 1995 Term – Leading Cases, 110 Harv. L. Rev. 277 (1996)
Setting Incorporationism Straight: A Reinterpretation of the Slaughter-House Cases, 109 Yale L.J. 643 (2000)
Discrimination, Retaliation, and Implied Private Rights of Action, 6 Engage: J. Federalist Soc’y Prac. Groups 50 (2005)
(With MJ Ayers) A Brave New World of Judicial Recusal? – The United States Supreme Court Enters the Fray, 70 Ala. Law. 369 (2009)
(With Anna Manasco Dionne) Commentary: Practice trumps theory in McDonald v. City of Chicago, Nat’l Law J. July 21, 2010
(With Jack Wilson) Commentary: The Court on class arbitration, Nat’l Law J. Oct. 18, 2010
The State Solicitor General Boom, 32 App. Prac. 6 (2013)
(With Anna Manasco) On the Merits: Brown v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc., Wash Legal Found., Wash. D.C., Sept 11, 2015
Newsom’s first opinion after joining the 11th Circuit involved a tax case dealing with the deductibility of expenses for in vitro fertilization by a gay man. The unanimous court panel said no and also it didn’t deny him due process because hetrosexual couples using IVF weren’t allowed the deduction either. He opened his opinion stating, “This is a tax case. Fear not, keep reading.” In another case, Newsom joined the majority for a 2-1 decision against a prisoner in Brevard County, FL who claimed inhumane and unconstitutional conditions. The People for the American Way (sic) highlighted this per curium decision in their blog (and it should be noted they opposed his confirmation from the get-go). In another case, Newsom joined in the unanimous decision in favor of a female LEO who was demoted by an Alabama police department for seeking to breastfeed her child.
To say that the Alliance for Justice doesn’t like Newsom is an understatement. They accuse him of being anti-civil rights because he has criticized substantive due process which they claim would be bad for women’s and LGBTQ rights and Title IX cases. They also castigate him for his defense of Alabama death penalty cases while serving as Solicitor General of Alabama which was, you know, kinda his job. What they and the People for the American Way are really mad about is that Alabama’s then senators refused to sign a blue slip for Judge Abdul Kallon, an African-American, to be on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and Newsom got the job instead.
William H. Pryor, Jr.
56 y.o., married to Kristan Wilson Pryor, and has two daughters. Catholic.
Judge, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Recess appointment on Feb. 20, 2004. Appointed by Pres. George W. Bush and confirmed on June 9, 2005.
Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana at Monroe), B.A., 1984
Tulane University Law School, J.D. Magna Cum Laude, 1987
Judge John Minor Wisdom, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 1987-1988
Associate, Cabaniss, Johnston, Gardner, Dumas & O’Neal, Birmingham, AL, 1988-1991
Partner, Walston, Stabler, Wells, Anderson & Bains, Birmingham, AL, 1991-1995
Adjunct professor, Samford University, Cumberland School of Law, 1989-1995
Deputy attorney general, State of Alabama, 1995-1997
Attorney general, State of Alabama, 1997-2004
Visiting Prof., University of Alabama Law School, 2006-Present
Note, The Single Incident Inference of Municipal Liability Under Section 1893: City of Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 60 Tul. L. Rev. 874 (1986)
(With Benjamin Rowe) A Survey of Alabama Law Pertaining to Improper Closing Arguments, 50 Ala. Law. 9 (1989)
Applying Batson in Civil Trials: The Greatest Sideshow on Earth, 22 Cumb. L. Rev. 49 (1991-1992)
A Comparison of Abuses and Reforms of Class Actions and Multigovernment Lawsuits, 74 Tul. L. Rev. 1885 (1999-2000)
“Comment,” 31 Seton Hall L. Rev: 604 (2001)
(With Francis McGovern & Ronald Rychlak) Regulation through Litigation – Panel, 71 Miss. L.J. 613 (2001-2002)
Madison’s Double Security: In Defense of Federalism, the Separation of Powers, and the Rehnquist Court, 53 Ala. L. Rev. 1167 (2001-2002)
The Demand for Clarity; Federalism, Statutory Construction, and the 2000 Term, 32 Cumb. L. Rev. 361 (2001-2002)
Christian Duty and the Rule of Law, 34 Cumb. L. Rev. 1 (2003)
Lessons of a Sentencing Reformer from the Deep South, 105 Colum. L. Rev. 943 (2005)
The Murder of Father James Coyle, The Prosecution of Edwin Stephenson, and the True Calling of Lawyers, 20 Notre Dame J. L. Ethics & Pub. Pol’y 401 (2006)
The Religious Faith and Judicial Duty of an American Catholic Judge, 24 Yale L. & Pol’y Rev. 347 (2006)
Foreign and International Law Sources in Domestic Constitutional Interpretation, 30 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 173 (2006-2007)
Judicial Independence and the Lesson of History, 68 Ala. Law. 389 (2007)
Not-So-Serious Threats to Judicial Independence, 93 Va. L. Rev. 1759 (2007)
The Perspective of a Junior Circuit Judge on Judicial Modesty, 60 Fla. L. Rev. 1007 (2008)
Moral Duty and the Rule of Law, 31 Harv. J. L. & Pub. Pol’y 153 (2008)
Federalism and Sentencing Reform in the Post-Blakely/Booker Era, 8 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 515 (2010-2011)
Given that Pryor has served on the 11th Circuit for over 14 years, he has served on a lot of cases and rendered a number of opinions. Here is a list of his notable decisions. None of these seem to implicate the Second Amendment. With regard to the Second Amendment, Pryor has always indicated his strong support for an individual right to keep and bear arms and was very critical of the Clinton Administration’s attempts at lawfare against the firearms industry.
Angered some social conservatives because while serving as Alabama’s Attorney General he removed Chief Justice Roy Moore from office for violating a Federal court order. As might be expected, he is hated by the left because he characterized both Miranda and Roe “as the worst cases of judicial activism”. He also ruled in a 2009 case that requiring a voter ID as in Georgia placed an “insignificant burden” on voters.
Margaret A. “Meg” Ryan
54 y.o., married to Michael Collins. No children. Attended law school under the Marine Corps Legal Education Program. Deployed with II & III MEF to Philippines and Saudi Arabia (Desert Storm)
Judge, Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Nominated in 2006 by Pres. George W. Bush for a term of 15 years. Confirmed by a Senate voice vote on Dec. 9, 2006.
Knox College, BA Cum Laude, 1985
University of Chicago, 1985-1986, no degree
USMC Communications Electronics Officers School, Honor Graduate, 1988
University of Notre Dame Law School, JD, Summa Cum Laude, 1995
Naval Justice School, Graduated with honors, 1995
Judge J. Michael Luttig, 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2000-2001
Justice Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court of the United States, 2001-2002
Enlisted, US Marine Corps Reserve, 1986-1987
Major (final rank), platoon/company commander, staff officer, operations officer, and Judge Advocate, US Marine Corps, 1987-1999
Aide de Camp, Commandant of the Marine Corps Charles Krulak, 1997-1999
Associate, Cooper Carvin & Rosenthal, Washington, DC, 1999-2000
Partner, Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP, Denver, CO, 2002-2004
Partner, Wiley Rein & Fielding LLP, Washington, DC, 2004-2006
In US v. Wilcox, she found that for a service member to be charged under Article 134, UCMJ, for speech discrediting the military, that the speech must be shown to have a clear and palpable connection to the military mission or environment. In US v. Elespuru, she found that the lower court’s conviction on multiple charges brought due to the “exigencies of proof” constituted double jeopardy. More of her decisions can be found here.
There seems to be no opposition to Judge Ryan which may indicate that while she is on Trump’s SCOTUS list she isn’t considered likely to get the nod.
David R. Stras
44 y.o., married to Heather Stras, and has two children. Jewish. Paternal grandparents are Holocaust survivors.
Judge, 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nominated by Pres. Donald Trump in 2018. Confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 30, 2018. Originally nominated on May 8, 2017; no Senate vote.
University of Kansas, B.A., 1995
University of Kansas School of Business, M.B.A., 1999
University of Kansas School of Law, J.D., 1999
Judge Melvin Brunetti, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1999-2000
Judge J. Michael Luttig, 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2000-2001
Justice Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court of the United States, 2002-2003
Associate, Sidley Austin, Washington, D.C., 2001-2002
Hugo Black faculty fellow, University of Alabama School of Law, 2003-2004
University of Minnesota Law School, 2004-2011
- Associate professor of law, 2004-2010
- Co-director, Institute for Law and Politics, 2007-2010
- Associate professor of political science (through affiliation), 2008-2010
- Vance K. Opperman research scholar, 2009-2010
- Adjunct professor, 2011
Visiting professor of law, Washington University School of Law, 2008
Of Counsel,Faegre & Bensen, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2009-2010
Associate justice, Minnesota Supreme Court, 2010-2018. Appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Visiting professor, Vanderbilt University Law School, 2012
Adjunct professor, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, 2013
Adjunct faculty member, University of Iowa College of Law, 2014-
Comment, An Invitation to Discrimination: How Congress and the Courts Leave Most Partners and Shareholders Unprotected from Discriminatory Employment Practices, 47 U. KAN. L. REV. 239 (1998)
(With Ryan Scott) Retaining Life Tenure: The Case for a “Golden Parachute”, 83 Wash. U.L.Q. 1397 (2006)
(With Karla Vehrs) Foreward: The Future of the Supreme Court: Institutional Reform and Beyond, 90 Minn. L. Rev. 1147 (2006)
(With Ryan Scott) Are Senior Judges Unconstitutional?, 92 Cornell L. Rev. 453 (2007)
The Supreme Court’s Gatekeepers: The Role of Law Clerks in the Certiorari Process, 85 Tex. L. Rev. 947 (2007)
(With Ryan Scott) An Empirical Analysis of Life Tenure: A Response to Professors Calabresi & Lindgren, 30 Harv. J. L. & Pub. Pol. 791 (2007)
Why Supreme Court Justices Should Ride Circuit Again, 91 Minn. L. Rev. 1710 (2007)
Understanding the New Politics of Judicial Appointments, 86 Tex. L. Rev. 1033 (2008)
(With Ryan Scott) Navigating the New Politics of Judicial Appointments, 101 NW. L. Rev. 1869 (2008)
Pierce Butler: A Supreme Technician, 62 Vand. L. Rev. 695 (2009)
(Stephen Burbank, Charles Cooper, and James Lindgren) Showcase Panel II: Judicial Tenure: Life Tenure or Fixed Non-renewable Terms?, 12 Barry L. Rev. 173 (Spring 2009)
(With Arthur Hellman and Lauren Robel) Federal Courts: Cases and Materials on Judicial Federalism and the Lawyering Process (Ed. 1 – 4, 2009-2017)
(With Lauren Robel et al) Judicial Code Supplement: Title 28 and Related Statutes (2010,2013, 2015, & 2016)
(With Shaun Pettigrew) The Rising Caseload in the Fourth Circuit: A Statistical and Institutional Analysis, 61 S. C. L. Rev. 421 (2010)
The Supreme Court’s Declining Plenary Docket: A Membership-Based Explanation, 27 Const. Comm. 151 (2010)
(With James Spriggs), Explaining Plurality Opinions, 99 Georgetown L. J. 515 (2011)
(With Ryan Owens and David Simon) Explaining the Supreme Court’s Shrinking Docket, 53 William and Mary L. R. 1219 (2012)
(With Diane Sykes and James Wynn Jr) Panel Discussion: Judges’ Perspectives on Law Clerk Hiring, Utilization, and Influence, 98 Marq. L. Rev. 441 (2014)
Keynote Address: Secret Agents: Using Law Clerks Effectively, 98 Marq. L. Rev. 151 (2014)
(With Timothy Johnson and Ryan Black) Advice from the Bench (Memo): Clerk Influence on Supreme Court Oral Arguments, 98 Marq. L. Rev. 21 (2014)
(With Aaron Caplan et al) How the First Amendment Procedures Protect First Amendment Substance, 65 Cath. U. L. Rev. 185 (2015)
While on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, Stras has authored only one opinion in his short time on the court. In Brazil v. Arkansas Dept of Human Resources, a case involving claims of employment discrimination, the matter was whether the plaintiff was entitled to injunctive relief regarding a transfer. Given she had already accepted a transfer, the case was remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Stras has heard 22 cases on the court since his confirmation. The only Second Amendment case involved a person convicted of having unregistered silencers and unregistered short barreled rifles in violation of the NFA. In a per curium unpublished opinion, the court found that the District Court had made no errors and thus denied the appeal.
The Alliance for Justice opposed Stras’ nomination to the 8th Circuit and continues to oppose Stras. They have called him an “ultra-conservative” who votes against persons with disabilities and voting rights. I think they are also mad at him for disparaging Sonia Sotomayor’s testimony at her confirmation hearings as wooden and describing her as a “mediocrity”. I can’t disagree.
60 y.o., divorced, formerly married to Charlie Sykes, political commentator and talk show host from 1980-1999. Has two children with Sykes.
Judge, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nominated by Pres. George W. Bush and confirmed on June 24, 2004.
Northwestern University, B.S., 1980
Marquette University Law School, J.D., 1984
Judge Terence T. Evans, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, 1984-1985
Journalist, Milwaukee Journal, 1980-1981
Associate, Whyte & Hirschboeck, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1985-1992
Judge, Wisconsin Circuit Court, Milwaukee County, 1992-1999
Justice, Wisconsin Supreme Court, 1999-2004
Reflections on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, 89 Marq. L. Rev. 723 (2005-2006)
Of a Judiciary Nature: Observations on Chief Justice’s First Opinions, 34 Pepp. L. Rev. 1027 (2006-2007)
Religious Liberties: The Role of Religion in Public Debate, 20 Regent U. L. Rev. 301 (2007-2008)
Citation to Unpublished Orders under New FRAP Rule 32.1 and Circuit Rule 32.1: Early Experience in the Seventh Circuit, 32 S. Ill. U. L.J. 579 (2007-2008)
Independence v. Accountability: Finding a Balance Amidst the Changing Politics of State-Court Judicial Selection, 92 Marq. L. Rev. 341 (2008-2009)
Gender and Judging, 94 Marq. L. Rev. 1381 (2010-2011)
The New Federalism: Confessions of a Former State Supreme Court Justice, 38 Okla. City U. L. Rev. 367 (2013)
Minimalism and Its Limits, 2014-2015 Cato Sup. Ct. Rev. 17 (2014-2015)
(With David Stras and James Wynn Jr) Judges’ Perspectives on Law Clark Hiring, Utilization, and Influence, 98 Marq. L. Rev. 441 (2014-2015)
The key case for our purposes involving Judge Sykes was Ezell v. City of Chicago (2011) where Sykes wrote the opinion. She found that Chicago’s ban on gun ranges violated the Second Amendment. The follow-on Ezell II case also featured an opinion by Sykes who said Chicago’s zoning of ranges was so restrictive that only 2.2% of the area qualified and none in places where they would commercially viable.
Sykes was criticized by the Alliance for Justice for her decision in Ezell (no surprise!), for refusing an en banc hearing for a discrimination case involving AutoZone, for reinstating Wisconsin’s Voter ID law, and finally for saying that for-profit companies could challenge the contraception mandate of ObamaCare.