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Timothy S. Black

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Timothy S. Black
Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #8
Appointed by:   Barack Obama
Active:   5/13/2010-Present
Preceded by:   Sandra Beckwith
Past post:   Magistrate Judge
Past term:   2004-2010
Personal History
Born:   1953
Hometown:   Brookline, MA
Undergraduate:   Harvard University, 1975
Law School:   Salmon P. Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky University, 1983

Timothy S. Black is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. He was nominated to the court by President Barack Obama in 2009 and was confirmed to the court in 2010.[1]


Black received his A.B. degree from Harvard University in 1975 and his J.D. degree from Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University in 1983.[2]

Professional career

  • 1994-2004: Judge, Hamilton County, Ohio Municipal Courts
  • 1982-1993: Private practice, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1978-1982: Faculty, The Seven Hills Schools, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1975-1977: Faculty, Roxbury Latin School, West Roxbury, Massachusetts[1]

Judicial career

Southern District of Ohio

Nomination Tracker
 Candidate:Timothy S. Black
 Court:Southern District of Ohio
 Progress:Confirmed 138 days after nomination.
ApprovedANominated:December 24, 2009
ApprovedAABA Rating:Substantial Majority Well Qualified, Minority Qualified
ApprovedAHearing:January 20, 2010
ApprovedAReported:February 11, 2010 
ApprovedAConfirmed:May 11, 2010
 Vote: Voice vote

Black was recommended by President President Obama by Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich to fill an Article III judge vacancy on the Southern District of Ohio. The seat opened when Judge Sandra Beckwith assumed senior status.[3]

I am honored by the trust and faith invested in me by Senators Brown and Voinovich and by their Judicial Advisory Commission. Serving the community as a federal judge is a solemn and splendid undertaking, and I believe I am fully ready for the work.


—Timothy Black[5]

President Obama nominated Black for the court on December 24, 2009.[6] He had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 20, 2010, and was confirmed by the Senate on May 11, 2010.[7]

Judiciary Committee hearing

Black's Public Questionnaire Available Here
Questions for the Record available here

Notable cases

Ohio ordered to recognize same-sex marriages from other states (2014)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Henry v. Himes, 1:14-cv-129)

On April 14, 2014, Judge Black released his anticipated ruling which ordered Ohio's officials to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other states.[8] However, two days later, Black stayed his own ruling upon the result of the appeal filed in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. As such, Monday's ruling will have no immediate ramifications for anyone in the state besides the four married lesbian couples who brought suit. Black ordered Ohio to provide new birth certificates to the children of the four couples, recognizing that the parents were wed legally.[9][10]

Announcement before ruling on same-sex marriages in Ohio

In a rare announcement, Judge Black gave notice in advance of his April 14, 2014, ruling striking down Ohio's ban on the recognition of same-sex marriages. On April 4, Judge Black said:

Ohio's recognition bans that have been relied upon to deny legal recognition to same-sex (marriages) validly entered in other states...violate the rights secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


Since the ruling will also prevent Ohio officials from enforcing the ban on same-sex marriages, the early notice of the ruling is intended to allow the state to ready its likely appeal.[11]

Reaction to the ruling

While groups such as the [[American Civil Liberties Union]] praised the announcement, Ohio Representative John Becker renewed his calls for Black's impeachment. Becker sponsored a resolution asking the United States House of Representatives to impeach the judge.[12][13]

Same-sex marriage must be recognized on death certificates in Ohio (2013)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Barrett, et al v. Claycomb, et al, 1:13-cv-501)

On December 23, 2013, Judge Black ruled that Ohio authorities must recognize same-sex marriages on death certificates. Ohio law prohibits recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states, and in the underlying case, two gay men who were married in states allowing such unions wanted to be recognized on the death certificates of their recently deceased spouses. Black had previously issued temporary restraining orders preventing the state from accepting death certificates unless they reflected the decedents’ status as “married,” with their male partners listed as “surviving spouse.” Black ruled that to treat same-sex marriages differently than opposite-sex marriages would be a violation of American citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed equal protection rights. He went on to compare the many different types of marriages that are legally recognized in Ohio, even if not authorized in Ohio, such as marriages between cousins and between minors. Pursuant to Black’s order, “once you get married lawfully in one state, another state cannot summarily take your marriage away,” regardless of whether it is a same-sex marriage. Black’s ruling was limited only to death certificates, but the language he used was so sweeping that it may be applied to other Ohio same-sex marriage litigation proceedings in the future. On the same day Black handed down his ruling, Ohio's Attorney General said he would file an appeal with the Sixth Circuit.[14][15][16][17][18]

Judge Black rules for cross-state recognition of same-sex marriage (2013)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (OBERGEFELL v. KASICH, 1:13-cv-501)

In July 2013, Judge Black ruled that the marriage of a same-sex couple married in Maryland should be recognized by the State of Ohio on a death certificate. James Obergefell, husband of John Arthur, sought to be listed as the surviving spouse on Arthur's death certificate. At the time of the ruling, Arthur was suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease. Because of the stipulation that only direct descendants and spouses could be buried in the Arthur family plot, without legal recognition on the marriage certificate the two would not be able to be buried next to one another. Judge Black stated that the ruling only applied to the couple who brought suit, saying:
The uncertainty around this issue during Mr. Arthur's final illness is the cause of extreme emotional hardship to the couple. Dying with an incorrect death certificate that prohibits Mr. Arthur from being buried with dignity constitutes irreparable harm.[19] [4]

Same-sex marriages which were outlawed, in Ohio, in 2004 when a ballot measure prohibiting the unions passed. While proponents for marriage equality saw this as a victory in overturning the 2004 ballot measure, the Attorney General's Office said,

...this is a temporary ruling at a preliminary stage under sad circumstances.[19][4]
The office also stood by the right of Ohioans to determine whether these unions should be legal.[20]

Reaction to ruling

In response to this ruling, Ohio Representative John Becker asked U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup to initiate impeachment proceedings against Judge Black. In the request, Rep. Becker said:

I am writing you today to express my concerns about the federal government's ever growing propensity to violate state sovereignty. Although this has been a trend since the early 19th century, it has accelerated exponentially in recent decades.[21] [4]

Rep. Wenstrup, who represents Ohio's 2nd congressional district, responded:

While Judge Black’s ruling violated the Ohio Constitution and the will of Ohio voters, the question of whether this decision also violated the U.S. Constitution remains before a higher court. I will watch those appellate proceedings closely to see if Judge Black’s decision is upheld and I have full confidence in the Ohio’s office of the Attorney General during the appeals process.[22] [4]



In 2002, Judge Black ran against Maureen O'Connor for a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court. O'Connor won, shifting the majority on the court from Democratic to Republican.

Candidate IncumbentPartyElection %
Maureen O'Connor ApprovedA NoRepublican58.3%
Timothy S. Black NoDemocratic42.7%


In 2000, Black challenged incumbent Justice Deborah Cook for her seat on the Ohio Supreme Court.

Candidate IncumbentSeatPartyPrimary %Election %
Deborah Cook ApprovedA YesTerm commencing January 1, 2001Republican100.0%51.9%
Timothy S. Black NoTerm commencing January 1, 2001Democratic54.6%48.1%

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Timothy Black Biography from the Federal Judicial Center, accessed September 19, 2013]
  2. League of Women Voters of Ohio, "Biography of Tim Black"
  3. The Columbus Dispatch, "Senator names pick for U.S. judge," July 7, 2009
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. Press Release, "Brown, Voinovich Announce Recommendation For Federal Judge For U.S. Southern District," July 6, 2009
  6. Senate Judiciary Committee, "Judicial Nomination Materials: 111th Congress" (dead link)
  7. The Columbus Dispatch, "Senate OKs nominee for federal court in Ohio," May 12, 2010
  8. USA Today, "Judge: Ohio must recognize other states' gay marriages," April 14, 2014
  9. The Los Angeles Times, "Ohio judge stays his own ruling on same-sex marriage," April 16, 2014
  10. ABC News, "Judge Stays Most of Ohio Gay Marriage Ruling," April 16, 2014
  11., "Federal Judge says he will declare Ohio's gay marriage ban unconstitutional," April 4, 2014
  12. ACLU, Press Release: "ACLU of Ohio Statement on Federal Judge Timothy Black's Decision to Rule Ohio's Ban on Recognizing Same-Sex Marriage Unconstitutional," April 4, 2014
  13. The Plain Dealer, "Ohio Rep. John Becker repeats call for impeachment of Judge Timothy Black over gay marriage rulings," April 7, 2014
  14. Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Judge's order in same-sex marriage case could put validity of Ohio's laws in question," July 23, 2013
  15. Miami Herald, "Ohio gay marriage ban is rejected in narrow ruling," December 23, 2013 (dead link)
  16. Northeast Ohio Media Group, "Federal judge rules Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages on death certificates," December 23, 2013
  17. Associated Press, "Ohio Gay Marriage Ruling May Just Be Beginning," December 23, 2013
  18. ABC 22 News, "Ohio Attorney General to Appeal Gay Marriage Death Certificate Ruling," December 23, 2013 (dead link)
  19. 19.0 19.1 The Washington Post, "Federal judge rules in favor of gay Ohio couple seeking recognition of out-of-state marriage," July 23, 2013
  20. USAToday, "Judge rules for Ohio same-sex couple," July 23, 2013
  21., "Clermont lawmaker: Impeach judge in same-sex marriage case," September 20, 2013
  22., "Clermont lawmaker: Impeach judge in same-sex marriage case," September 20, 2013 Different version than first reference
Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Sandra Beckwith
Southern District of Ohio
Seat #8
Succeeded by:

OhioOhio Supreme CourtOhio District Courts of AppealOhio Courts of Common PleasOhio County CourtsOhio Municipal CourtsOhio Court of ClaimsUnited States District Court for the Northern District of OhioUnited States District Court for the Southern District of OhioUnited States bankruptcy court, Northern District of OhioUnited States bankruptcy court, Southern District of OhioUnited States Court of Appeals for the Sixth CircuitOhio countiesOhio judicial newsOhio judicial electionsJudicial selection in OhioOhioTemplate.jpg