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Jerry Smith

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Jerry Smith
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Current Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Title:   Judge
Appointed by:   Ronald Reagan
Active:   12/21/1987 -Present
Personal History
Born:   1946
Home state:   Texas
Undergraduate:   Yale University, 1969
Law School:   Yale Law School, 1972

Jerry Edwin Smith (b. 1946) is a federal appeals judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He joined the court in 1987 after being nominated by President Ronald Reagan.[1]

Early life and education

Smith graduated from Yale with his bachelor's degree in 1969, and later graduated from Yale Law with his Juris Doctor in 1972.[1]

Professional career

  • 1984-1987: City attorney, Houston, Texas
  • 1982-1984: Chairman, Houston Civil Service Commission, Texas
  • 1981-1982: Special assistant attorney general, State of Texas
  • 1978-1980: Director, Harris County Housing Authority, Texas
  • 1973-1984: Attorney in private practice, State of Texas
  • 1972-1973: Law clerk, Hon. Halbert Woodward of the Northern District of Texas[1]

Federal judicial career

Smith was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by President Ronald Reagan on June 2, 1987, to a new seat created by 98 Stat. 333, which was approved by Congress. Smith was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 19, 1987, on unanimous consent of the Senate and received commission on December 21, 1987.[1]

Notable cases

Parents permitted to intervene in school voucher desegregation suit (2014)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Brumfield, et al v. Dodd, 13-31262)

On April 10, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit composed of Judges Smith, Edith Clement, and Grady Jolly, 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.[2]

In the underlying case, the U.S. government filed suit for an injunction, demanding that the state's voucher program not be used to send students in failing schools under federal desegregation orders to private schools as doing so would "cause irreparable injury to the court-ordered desegregation process." The parents were previously denied the opportunity to intervene, but Judge Smith, writing for the majority, noted that the children's guardians need only show the possibility that their interests would be affected by the case's resolution.[2] In concluding the ruling, Smith quipped:

It would indeed be a questionable rule that would require prospective intervenors to wait on the sidelines until after a court has already decided enough issues contrary to their interests.[2][3]

Corporate speech through campaign finance upheld by Fifth Circuit (2013)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Texans for Free Enterprise v. Texas Ethics Commission, et al, 13-50014)

On October 16, 2013, Judge 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. 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. 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."[4]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
NA - new seat
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
Succeeded by: