United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- 1 Vacancy warning level
- 2 Active judges
- 3 Jurisdiction
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable cases
- 6 History
- 7 Former judges
- 8 Location
- 9 See also
- 10 External links
- 11 References
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, sometimes referred to as the Fifth Circuit, is one of the thirteen federal appellate courts. The court is composed of seventeen active judges, and is based at the John Minor Wisdom U.S. Courthouse in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Article III judges
|Judge James Dennis||1936||Clinton||10/02/1985-Present||Charles Clark||Louisiana Tech University, 1959||Louisiana State University Law School, 1962|
|Judge James Graves||1953||Hinds County, MS||Obama||2/14/2011-Present||Rhesa Barksdale||Millsaps College, 1975||Syracuse University Law, 1980|
|Chief Judge Carl Stewart||1950||Louisiana||Clinton||05/09/1994 - Present||10/1/2012 - Present||Dillard University, 1971||Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, 1974|
|Judge Edith Jones||1949||Philadelphia, PA||Reagan||04/04/1985-Present||1/16/2006-9/30/2012||Cornell University, 1971||University of Texas Law School, 1974|
|Judge Leslie Southwick||1950||W. Bush||10/29/2007 -Present||Charles Pickering||Rice University, 1972||University of Texas School of Law, 1975|
|Judge Priscilla Owen||1954||W. Bush||06/03/2005 -Present||William Garwood||Baylor University, 1975||Baylor University School of Law, 1977|
|Judge Jennifer Elrod||1966||W. Bush||10/19/2007 -Present||Patrick E. Higginbotham||Baylor University, 1988||Harvard Law School, 1992|
|Judge Catharina Haynes||1963||W. Bush||04/18/2008 -Present||Harold DeMoss||Florida Institue of Technology, 1983||Emory University School of Law, 1986|
|Judge Edith Clement||1948||Birmingham, AL||W. Bush||11/25/1991-Present||John Duhe, Jr.||University of Alabama, 1969||Tulane Law School, 1972|
|Judge Edward Prado||1947||W. Bush||05/05/2003 -Present||Robert Parker||University of Texas, 1969||University of Texas School of Law, 1972|
|Judge Jerry Smith||1946||Reagan||12/21/1987 -Present||Yale University, 1969||Yale Law School, 1972|
|Judge W. Eugene Davis||1936||Winfield, AL||Reagan||11/16/1983-Present||Robert Ainsworth||Tulane Law School, 1960|
|Judge Grady Jolly||1937||Reagan||07/30/1992 -Present||James Coleman||University of Mississippi, 1959||University of Mississippi School of Law, 1962|
|Judge Stephen Higginson||1961||Boston, MA||Obama||10/31/2011-Present||Jacques Wiener||Harvard University, 1983||Yale Law, 1987|
|Judge Gregg Costa||1972||Baltimore, MD||Obama||5/20/2014-Present||Fortunato Benavides||Dartmouth College, 1994||University of Texas Law, 1999|
Active Article III judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of active judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
|Senior Judge Thomas Reavley||Carter||7/13/1979-7/31/1990||8/01/1990-Present||University of Texas, 1942||Harvard Law Schoo, 1948|
|Senior Judge Carolyn King||Carter||7/13/1979-12/30/2013||1999-2006||12/31/2013-Present||Smith College, 1959||Yale Law School, 1962|
|Senior Judge Patrick Higginbotham||Reagan||7/30/1982-8/27/2006||8/28/2006-Present||University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, 1960||University of Alabama School of Law, 1961|
|Senior Judge John Duhe||Reagan||10/17/1988-4/6/1999||4/7/1999-Present||Tulane University, 1955||Tulane University Law School, 1957|
|Senior Judge Harold DeMoss||H.W. Bush||12/02/1991-6/30/2007||7/001/2007-Present||Rice University, 1952||University of Texas School of Law, 1955|
|Senior Judge Fortunato Benavides||Clinton||5/09/1994-2/3/2012||2/3/2012-Present||University of Houston, 1968||University of Houston Law Center, 1972|
|Senior Judge Emilio Garza||H.W. Bush||5/30/1991-8/1/2012||8/1/2012-Present||University of Notre Dame, 1969||University of Texas School of Law, 1976|
|Senior Judge Jacques Wiener||H.W. Bush||3/12/1990-9/29/2010||9/30/2010-Present||Tulane University, 1956||Tulane Law School, 1961|
|Senior Judge Rhesa Barksdale||H.W. Bush||3/12/1990-8/08/2009||8/08/2009-Present||U.S. Military Academy, West Point, 1996||University of Mississippi Law School, 1972|
Senior judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of senior judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
The Fifth Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over cases heard in one of its subsidiary districts. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
- Eastern District of Louisiana
- Middle District of Louisiana
- Western District of Louisiana
- Northern District of Mississippi
- Southern District of Mississippi
- Eastern District of Texas
- Northern District of Texas
- Southern District of Texas
- Western District of Texas
|Federal Court Caseload Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases||Terminations on merits:||Terminations on Procedure||Cross Appeals:||Total Terminations:||Written decisions per Judge**|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website (for District Courts) and reflect the calendar year through September. **This statistic reflects only judges that are active for the entire 12 month period.|
|• Fifth Circuit strikes political bingo money ban (2014)||Click for summary→|
|In July 2014, the Fifth Circuit, sitting en banc, affirmed a trial court opinion by overturning a Texas ban on charities' spending of bingo proceeds on political speech as unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Chief Judge Stewart wrote the opinion, noting that Texas "fail[ed] to identify a compelling state interest."
| • Parents permitted to intervene in school voucher desegregation suit (2014)|
Judge(s):Edith Clement, Grady Jolly, and Jerry Smith (Brumfield, et al v. Dodd, 13-31262)
|Click for summary→|
|On April 10, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit composed of Judges Edith Clement, Grady Jolly, and Jerry Smith, ruled that parents would be permitted to intervene in a suit filed against Louisiana's Superintendent of Public Education by the Department of Justice to ensure its school-voucher program was in compliance with federal desegregation orders.
| • Blocked provisions of abortion law reinstated (2013)|
Judge(s):Priscilla Owen, Jennifer Elrod, and Catharina Haynes (Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, et. al v. Gregory Abbott, Attorney General of Texas, 13-51008)
|Click for summary→|
|On October 31, 2013, a panel of judges on the Fifth Circuit reinstated most of the provisions previously ruled unconstitutional by Judge Earl Yeakel, with the exception of regulations for abortion-inducing drugs. The ruling issued an emergency stay while the constitutionality of the law was being considered. The stay allowed the law to go into effect on November 1, 2013.
In a statement, Texas Attorney General and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott said:
The president of Planned Parenthood Federation of American disagreed with that assessment, stating:
District Court ruling
On October 28, 2013, Judge Yeakal prevented parts of a controversial abortion law in Texas from taking effect. (This law was the same one famously filibustered by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis in June 2013.) The provisions requiring doctors performing the procedure to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and regulating use of abortion-inducing drugs were blocked. In the ruling, Judge Yeakel said that requiring doctors to have admitting privileges "does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the state in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman’s health."
| • Corporate speech through campaign finance upheld by Fifth Circuit (2013)|
Judge(s):James Dennis, Jerry Smith, and Stephen Higginson (Texans for Free Enterprise v. Texas Ethics Commission, et al, 13-50014)
|Click for summary→|
|On October 16, 2013, Judge Jerry Smith, writing on behalf of a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit which included Judges James Dennis and Stephen Higginson, affirmed a ruling made by the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas as to corporations' ability to fund political speech. In the underlying case, Texans for Free Enterprise (TFE), a political action committee that uses its donated funds to support or oppose political candidates, filed suit against the Texas Ethics Commission because portions of the Texas Election Code prohibited the PAC from receiving money from corporations. TFE sought an enforcement injunction, and the federal trial court granted a preliminary one in the political action group's favor. The Ethics Commission appealed the suit to the Fifth Circuit, where the lower court's ruling was affirmed. Judge Smith ruled that in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, the parts of the Texas Election Code that banned corporate funding of political speech were an unconstitutional abridgement of free speech. Judge Smith concluded his decision by succinctly noting that while "TFE’s ability to speak is undoubtedly limited when it cannot raise money to pay for speech," injunctions of this kind, those which seek to protect the First Amendment, "are always in the public interest."|
| • Fifth Circuit rules on Texas Open Meetings Law (2012)|
Judge(s):Rhesa Barksdale, James Dennis, and Jacques Wiener (Rangra v. Brown, No. 06-51587)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge James Dennis wrote the opinion in the case Avinash Rangra; Anna Monclova v. Frank D. Brown, concerning the application of First Amendment rights within the context of the Texas Open Meetings law. The case was appealed from the Western District of Texas, where it was ruled that "the First Amendment affords absolutely no protection to speech by elected officials made pursuant to their official duties." Dennis, along with Judges Jacques Wiener, Jr. and Rhesa Barksdale, disagreed, and sent the case back to the trial court for review. They suggested that the "trial court had not properly considered whether the statute was constitutional".
Update: In September 2012, the case again made its way to the Fifth Circuit, where Judges Emilio Garza, Jerry Smith, and Leslie Southwick upheld the Texas Open Meetings Law. The court found that it did not abridge the free speech of city officials.To read that opinion, see United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Asgeirsson et al v. Texas Attorney General, September 28, 2012.
| • Clipper Estates case (2010)|
Judge(s):Thomas Reavley, Edward Prado, and Priscilla Owen (Joffroin v. Tufaro, 606 F. 3d 235)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Martin Feldman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana dismissed a lawsuit filed by fifty people who lived in the Clipper Estates in suburban New Orleans under allegations of violations of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The residents sued on allegations that the owner of Clipper Estates - also the President of the New Orleans Home Builders Association - used money he assessed against them after Hurricane Katrina for personal purposes instead of improving the subdivision as he promised. Feldman dismissed the lawsuit claiming the plaintiffs had no standing under RICO.
The case was appealed to the Fifth Circuit, where judges Thomas Reavley, Edward Prado, and Priscilla Owen affirmed Feldman's decision. It was determined that the plaintiffs in the case did not have standing after applying the three-part test from Whalen v. Carter, 954 F.2d 1087, 1093 (5th Cir. 1992).
In 1980, the Fifth Circuit was split with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reorganization Act and the Eleventh Circuit Act. At that point, the states of Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas became the new Fifth Circuit, while Alabama, Georgia and Florida became the new Eleventh Circuit.
The Fifth Circuit played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement, hearing many of the most controversial and climactic cases. A 1964 Time Magazine article on the Fifth Circuit entitled, "The Fascinating & Frenetic Fifth," said this about the court:
Apart from the Supreme Court, the most fascinating bench in the U.S. is the Deep South's Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals — the trail-blazing intermediate court that handles most of the nation's civil rights cases by hearing appeals from district courts in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. "Without the Fifth Circuit," says a leading civil rights lawyer, "we would be on the verge of actual war fare in the South."
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Fifth Circuit. The table displays the statute that authorized an increase in judgeships, the year the statute was passed, and the number of judges authorized for the court in the statute.
|March 3, 1891||26 Stat. 826||2|
|January 25, 1899||30 Stat. 803||3|
|June 10, 1930||46 Stat. 538||4|
|May 31, 1938||52 Stat. 584||5|
|December 14, 1942||56 Stat. 1050||6|
|February 10, 1954||68 Stat. 8||7|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||9|
|March 18, 1966||80 Stat. 75||13|
|June 18, 1968||82 Stat. 184||15|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||26|
|October 14, 1980||94 Stat. 1994||14|
|July 10, 1984||98 Stat. 333||16|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||17|
Former chief judges
In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy in the office of chief judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
For information on former judges, see former judges of the Fifth Circuit.
The Fifth Circuit is located in the John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals Building in New Orleans, Louisiana. The original building was constructed in 1908, and then served as both the Post Office and Courthouse. In 1961, the Post Office moved due to lack of space. In 1963, the courts left as well, and the building remained vacant until 1965, when it "served as a public high school for three years after Hurricane Betsy destroyed McDonough 35 High School." After undergoing extensive renovations, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit returned to the building in 1972. In 1974, the building was placed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The building was renamed in honor of John Minor Wisdom in 1994. As noted by the U.S. General Services Administration, Wisdom "...strongly promoted civil rights and issued landmark decisions that supported school desegregation and voter rights."
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, "Official Website"
- Fifth Circuit, "Clerk's Office & Judges
- Fifth Circuit, "Opinions"
- Fifth Circuit Blog, "Official Website"
- Courthouse News Service, "Outing gay teen didn't trample privacy rights," June 4, 2013
- Courthouse News Service, "5th Circuit upholds age restrictions on guns," May 23, 2013
- Courthouse News Service, "Parents May Intervene in School Voucher Fracas," April 14, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Fox News, "Federal appeals court reinstates most of Texas' abortion restrictions," October 31, 2013
- CBS News, "Federal appeals court reinstates key restriction in Texas abortion law," October 31, 2013
- Los Angeles Times, "Appeals court lifts injunction on Texas abortion law," October 31, 2013
- Texas American-Statesman, "Judge blocks key part of Texas abortion law," October 28, 2013
- New York Times, "Judge in Texas Partly Rejects Abortion Law," October 28, 2013
- Texas Lawyer Blog, "5th Circuit upholds corporate free speech in First Amendment challenge," October 18, 2013
- Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Avinash Rangra; Anna Monclova v. Frank D. Brown opinion
- RCFP Blog, "Open meetings law may be unconstitutional, court rules," April 30, 2009
- Times-Picayune, "Clipper Estates lawsuit dismissed by federal judge," September 14, 2009
- Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, "Joffroin v. Tufaro," 606 F. 3d 235, May 11, 2010
- Federal Judicial Center, "History of the Fifth Circuit," accessed on August 2, 2014
- Time Magazine, "Courts: The Fascinating & Frenetic Fifth," December 4, 1964
- United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
- U.S. General Services Administration, "Building History: John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals Building," accessed on May 2, 2014