November 01, 2018 WAYMAKER

An Interview with Judge Roger L. Gregory

By Judge Willie J. Epps Jr.

Roger L. Gregory is the only person ever to be appointed to a federal appeals court by presidents of two different parties. On June 30, 2000, President Bill Clinton, a Democrat from Arkansas, nominated Gregory to fill a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The U.S. Senate, however, refused to take up the nomination on the eve of the 2000 presidential election. So, following election day, the historic recount dispute in Florida, and Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000), President Clinton placed Gregory on the court via recess appointment on December 27, 2000. That recess appointment was valid until the end of the next congressional session or about a year. Judge Gregory, however, was renominated by President George W. Bush, a Republican from Texas, on May 9, 2001, and confirmed by the Senate on July 20, 2001, in a 93-1 vote. Gregory is the first African American ever to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He is also the first African American to serve as chief judge on that court.

Gregory was raised in Petersburg, Virginia. He graduated from Virginia State University in 1975 and from the University of Michigan Law School in 1978. He practiced law at two firms before forming the law firm Wilder & Gregory with L. Douglas Wilder in 1982. Less than a decade later, Wilder would be elected governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, becoming the first African American to serve as governor of a U.S. state since Reconstruction and the first African American ever elected governor of a U.S. state.

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