James Spencer

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James Spencer
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
Title:   Senior Judge
Position:   Seat #5
Station:   Richmond, VA
Appointed by:   Ronald Reagan
Active:   10/14/1986-3/25/2014
Chief:   2004-2011
Senior:   3/25/2014-Present
Preceded by:   John MacKenzie
Succeeded by:   Hannah Lauck
Personal History
Born:   1949
Hometown:   Florence, SC
Undergraduate:   Clark College, Atlanta, Georgia, 1971
Law School:   Harvard Law, 1974
Grad. School:   Howard U., 1985
Military service:   U.S. Army 1975-1978, Reserve 1981-1986

James Spencer is a federal judge on senior status for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He joined the court in 1986 after being nominated by President Ronald Reagan. Spencer was the chief judge of the court serving as the court's lead judicial administrative officer in conjunction with the Clerk of Court from 2004 to 2011.[1]

Spencer took senior status on March 25, 2014.[1][2]

Early life and education

A native of South Carolina, Spencer graduated from Clark College-Atlanta with his bachelor's degree in 1971 and graduated from Harvard Law School with a J.D. in 1974. He later earned a Master of Divinity degree from Howard University in 1985.[1]

Professional career

Spencer has had a varied legal career as an attorney, prosecutor, and as a judge. After law school, Spencer became a U.S. Army Captain in the Judge Advocate General Corps from 1975 to 1978. After an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army, Spencer joined the U.S. Attorney's Office as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1978 to 1983, and later transferred to the Eastern District of Virginia where he worked from 1983 to 1986. Spencer also served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1981 to 1986, where he gained experience as a Military Court Judge handling court martial trials and other military-related judicial manners. Since 1987, Spencer has served as a adjunct professor of law at the University of Virginia Law School.[1]

Judicial career

Eastern District of Virginia

On the unanimous recommendation of Virginia's U.S. Senators Paul S. Trible, Jr. and John Warner, Spencer was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on September 9, 1986, to a seat vacated by John MacKenzie as MacKenzie went on senior status. Spencer was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 8, 1986, on a voice vote and received commission on October 14, 1986. Spencer served as the chief judge of the court from 2004 to 2011.[1]

Notable cases

Dismissal of Affordable Care Act subsidies case (2014)

     United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (King, et al v. Sebelius, et al, 3:i3-CV-630)

On February 18, 2014, Judge Spencer dismissed a suit which alleged that Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies should be granted only to residents living in a state running its own insurance exchange under the law. In the underlying case, four Virginia residents filed suit because their state health insurance subsidy would force them to accept the law's individual mandate to carry health insurance. In the absence of the subsidy, they would qualify for a financial-hardship exemption from the mandate due to the expense of the cheapest available insurance plan.[3] In his opinion dismissing the suit, Judge Spencer wrote:
While on the surface, Plaintiffs’ plain meaning interpretation of [the relevant section of the law] has a certain common sense appeal, the lack of any support in the legislative history of the ACA indicates that it is not a viable theory.[3][4]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
John MacKenzie
Eastern District of Virginia
Seat #5
Succeeded by:
Hannah Lauck

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