Note: Judgepedia will be read-only from 9pm CST on February 25-March 2 while Judgepedia is merged into Ballotpedia.
Starting on March 2, all Judgepedia content will be contained on For status updates, visit

Terence Kern

From Judgepedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Terence Kern
Placeholder image.png
Do you have a photo that could go here? Submit it for this profile by emailing us!
Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma
Title:   Senior judge
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   6/9/1994 - 1/4/2010
Chief:   1996 - 2003
Senior:   1/4/2010 - Present
Preceded by:   New Seat
Succeeded by:   John Dowdell
Personal History
Undergraduate:   Oklahoma State University, 1966
Law School:   University of Oklahoma Law School, 1969

Terence C. Kern is an Article III federal judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. He joined the court in 1994 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. He is a former Chief Judge of the court. Kern assumed senior status in January 2010.[1]

Early life and education

A native Oklahoman, Kern graduated from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater in 1966 and later graduated from the University of Oklahoma Law School in Norman in 1969.[2]


Kern moved to Washington, D.C., to be an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission dealing with deceptive business practices from 1969 to 1970. He then moved back to Oklahoma, where he entered into private practice work from 1970 until his appointment to the federal bench in 1994.[2]

Federal judicial career

Kern was nominated by President Bill Clinton on March 9, 1994, to a new judgeship created by 104 Stat. 5089 which was approved by Congress. Kern was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 8, 1994, and received his commission on June 9, 1994. Kern served as the Chief Judge of the court from 1996 to 2003.[2]

Notable cases

Same-sex marriage ban ruled unconstitutional (2014)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma (Bishop v. United States, 4:04-cv-00848-TCK-TLW)

On January 14, 2014, Judge Kern struck down State Question No. 711, Oklahoma's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, issuing a stay on his ruling pending the resolution of any appeal filed. In the underlying case, two lesbian couples filed suit in November 2004, challenging both the Oklahoma constitutional amendment which prohibited gay couples from being married, as well as the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). A trial in the Bishop case was originally scheduled for May 2012, but the matter was delayed while landmark gay marriage cases, including United States v. Windsor, were ongoing. In the Windsor case, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA, where marriage was defined as between one man and one woman, was unconstitutional. Accordingly, Kern's opinion fully addressed only Oklahoma's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, noting that the provision of DOMA the plaintiffs sought to invalidate had "already been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court." In striking down Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage, Kern observed that it conflicted with the plaintiffs' constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, describing the law as "an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit." Kern issued a stay of his opinion pending the resolution of any state government appeal to the Tenth Circuit. An appeal was filed on January 16, 2014, two days after Kern released his opinion.[3][4][5][6]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
NA- new seat
Northern District of Oklahoma
Succeeded by:
John Dowdell