Judge Roger Gregory: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has just upheld the block on President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban.

The opinion was written by Judge Roger Gregory, who ruled that the president’s right to block people from entering the United States is “not absolute.” He also ruled that the revised travel ban does not seem to be about national security and is instead about targeting people of the Muslim faith.

The nationwide injunction blocking the travel ban from taking effect will continue and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is currently reviewing a case related to the travel ban.

So who exactly is Roger Gregory, the judge who wrote the opinion on the travel ban today? Here’s what you need to know about him.


1. He Was Appointed by President Bill Clinton

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Bill Clinton attends a Democratic National Committee luncheon at the Postrio restaurant in San Francisco. (Getty)

Roger Gregory is an appointee of President Bill Clinton.

President Clinton nominated Gregory to serve on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on June 30th, 2000. That seat had been vacant for almost a decade, and Clinton had previously nominated a candidate for the position whom the Senate did not confirm.

The Senate did not take up Roger Gregory’s appointment, and so Clinton appointed Gregory himself via a recess appointment shortly after Christmas 2000.

However, in 2001, President George W. Bush renominated Roger Gregory to the position, and the Senate confirmed him this time. Only one person voted against Gregory’s appointment: Trent Lott, who took issue with President Clinton’s use of a recess appointment a year earlier.

Roger Gregory is now the chief judge on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. He has served in that position for less than a year, being elevated in July 2016. He replaced William Traxler, whose term as chief judge ended in 2016.

According to The Washington Post, Gregory was seen as bringing “liberal perspectives” to the position of chief judge compared with Traxler’s “more centrist views.”


2. He Was the First Person in His Family to Graduate From High School

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Roger Gregory of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. (CSPAN)

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Roger Gregory grew up in Petersburg, Virginia, and he was the first person in his immediate family to graduate from high school, let alone law school, he said in an interview with United States Courts.

Gregory said that he really appreciated the importance of education because not everyone like him had access to it.

“I started school in 1959, but about 60 or so miles west of me, the black kids in that county had no school to go to,” he told United States Courts. “So I came up in that circumstance where I realized education is precious. I knew I had to make the very most of it because other people didn’t have it, and that always was my driving force to work hard.”

Gregory went to a segregated school until 12th grade, the year when segregation was declared unconstitutional, and so he got to be in a nonsegregated class for one year.

“We still relish our senior year when we came together and we found the common ground that had been denied to us for so long,” he said.

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Gregory earned his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. After graduation, he became a tax lawyer for a while in Detroit, eventually coming back to Virginia to work as a litigator. His law partner for 20 years was Douglas Wilder, who later became Democratic governor of Virginia.

Later, Gregory became the first black judge to serve on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.


3. He Upheld the Affordable Care Act’s Insurance Subsidies

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Obama during his final press conference as President. (Getty)

One prominent case that Roger Gregory was a part of was King v. Burwell, a case that concerned the Affordable Care Act.

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In this case, it was argued that the federal government providing subsidies on both state and federal exchanges exceeded Congress’ authority; several lawsuits claimed that the language of the Affordable Care Act only gives the federal government the authority to provide subsidies to those who live in states with state-run exchanges.

Judge Roger Gregory said in his opinion that the wording of the Affordable Care Act was ambiguous about this but that the Internal Revenue Service’s interpretation of the regulation was valid.

“…[W]e find that the applicable statutory language is ambiguous and subject to multiple interpretations,” he wrote. “Applying deference to the IRS’s determination, however, we uphold the rule as a permissible exercise of the agency’s discretion.”


4. A Decision of His Lead to the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage in Virginia

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Roger Gregory of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. (CSPAN)

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In 2014, Roger Gregory was a part of a panel that ruled on the legality of Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban.

In Bostic v. Schaefer, two gay men living in Virginia filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. Roger Gregory ruled in favor of striking down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban.

“Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life,” the court’s opinion read. “It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support, and security. The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.”

The Supreme Court subsequently denied a writ of certiorari in the case, which meant the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling stood and same-sex marriage was legalized in Virginia.


5. He Ruled That Trump’s Order Was Intended to Block Muslims From Entering the U.S.

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Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the AeroMod International hangar. (Getty)

In his ruling today, Roger Gregory said that the president’s authority to block entry of aliens into the United States has its limits.

“Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute,” he ruled. “It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation.”

Gregory also in his ruling cites Donald Trump’s campaign promises to prevent Muslims from coming into the United States. He also cites Trump’s comments talking about the executive order and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals putting a hold on it. A particularly damning comment that Gregory cites is from Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior policy advisor, who said that the revised order would have the “same basic outcome” as the first one.

The ruling notes that the executive order does not appear to be related to national security but is instead about a desire to target a particular religion.

“[T]he Government’s asserted national security interest in enforcing Section 2(c) appears to be a post hoc, secondary justification for an executive action rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country,” Gregory writes.

Gregory also writes, “We remain unconvinced that Section 2(c) has more to do with national security than it does with effectuating the President’s promised Muslim ban.”