How All the Presidents' Men & Women Have Ruled on Marriage Equality

Each of the last eight presidents has appointed at least one judge who has ruled on questions of marriage equality. The chart below shows how judges appointed by each of them have decided issues including the right to marry, state recognition of out-of-state marriages, federal recognition of legally valid marriages (in challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act), and California’s Proposition 8.

Rulings from each president’s appointees are shown with the most recent rulings first, the earliest to their right. Unfavorable rulings are indicated by an X through the appointing president’s face.

Where a judge has been appointed to a district court seat by one president and then to the circuit court by a successor, each appointing president is shown. (The same applies to Fourth Circuit Judge Roger L. Gregory, who was seated on a recess appointment by Bill Clinton and won Senate confirmation after he was re-appointed by George W. Bush; and District Judge Vaughn Walker, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, but not confirmed until re-nominated by George H.W. Bush.)

Even though the Supreme Court justices voted in last year’s DOMA case — with one Republican appointee joining four Democratic-named justices in a majority versus four GOP appointees — they are not represented in the chart below because they still face the ultimate question of nationwide marriage equality.

MICHAEL SHIREY | Obama: Pete Souza/ White House; GW Bush: Eric Draper/ White House; Clinton: Bob McNeeley/ White House; GHW Bush: Wikimedia Commons; Reagan: Wikimedia Commons; Carter: Department of Defense; Ford: David Hume Kennerley/ Wikimedia Commons; Nixon: Wikimedia Commons.

MICHAEL SHIREY | Obama: Pete Souza/ White House; GW Bush: Eric Draper/ White House; Clinton: Bob McNeeley/ White House; GHW Bush: Wikimedia Commons; Reagan: Wikimedia Commons; Carter: Department of Defense; Ford: David Hume Kennerley/ Wikimedia Commons; Nixon: Wikimedia Commons.

 

BARACK OBAMA

Pro: Circuit Court Judge Henry F. Floyd, Fourth Circuit majority, Virginia marriage, 7/28/14 (appointed to the district court by George W. Bush); Judge Raymond P. Moore, Colorado marriage, 7/23/14; Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman, Cook County licenses before Illinois law effective, 2/21/14; Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen, Virginia marriage, 2/13/14; Judge Timothy S. Black, Ohio recognition, 12/23/13 & 4/14/14; Judge Robert Shelby, Utah marriage, 12/20/13; Judge Thomas M. Durkin, license for terminally ill woman before Illinois law effective, 11/25/13; Circuit Judge Christopher F. Droney, Second Circuit DOMA majority, 10/12/12 (appointed to the district court by Clinton).

GEORGE W. BUSH

Pro: Circuit Judge Roger L. Gregory, Fourth Circuit majority, Virginia marriage, 7/28/14 (originally Clinton recess appointment); Circuit Court Judge Henry F. Floyd, Fourth Circuit majority, Virginia marriage, 7/28/14 (appointed to the district court by GW Bush, appointed to the circuit court by Obama); Circuit Judge Jerome A. Holmes, 10th Circuit majority, Oklahoma marriage, 7/18/14, & Utah marriage, 6/25/14; Judge Vanessa L. Bryant, DOMA district court ruling, 7/31/12; Judge Jeffrey White, DOMA district court ruling, 2/22/12.

Con: Judge Robert C. Jones, Nevada marriage, district court ruling; 11/9/12; Circuit Judge N. Randy Smith, Ninth Circuit Prop 8 dissent, 2/7/12.

BILL CLINTON

Pro: Circuit Judge Roger L. Gregory, Fourth Circuit majority, Virginia marriage, 7/28/14 (confirmed after GW Bush appointment; recess appointment by Clinton); Judge Carlos F. Lucero, 10th Circuit majority, Utah marriage, 6/25/14, and Oklahoma marriage, 7/18/14; District Judge Richard L. Young, Indiana marriage, 6/25/14; Judge Dale A. Kimball, recognition of Utah marriages licensed prior to stay, 5/19/14; Judge Aleta A. Trauger, Tennessee recognition, 3/14/14; Judge Orlando L. Garcia, Texas marriage, 2/26/14; District Judge Terence C. Kern, Oklahoma marriage, 1/14/14; Circuit Judge Christopher F. Droney, Second Circuit DOMA majority, 10/12/12 (appointed to the district court by Clinton, appointed to the circuit court by Obama); Judge Barbara S. Jones, DOMA district court ruling, 6/6/12; Circuit Judge Sandra Lynch, First Circuit DOMA majority, 5/31/12; Circuit Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, Ninth Circuit Prop 8 majority, 2/7/12.

Con: Circuit Judge Chester J. Straub, Second Circuit DOMA dissent, 10/12/12.

GEORGE H. W. BUSH

Pro: Judge John G. Heyburn II, Kentucky recognition, 2/12/14 & 7/1/14; Circuit Court Judge Dennis Jacobs, Second Circuit DOMA majority, 10/12/12; Circuit Judge Michael Boudin, First Circuit DOMA majority 5/31/12; Judge Vaughn Walker, Prop 8 district court ruling, 8/4/10 (first appointed by Reagan, but not confirmed).

Con: Circuit Court Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, Fourth Circuit dissent, Virginia marriage, 7/28/14 (appointed to district court by Reagan); Circuit Judge Paul J. Kelly, Jr., 10th Circuit dissent, Utah marriage, 6/25/14, & Oklahoma marriage, 7/18/14.

RONALD REAGAN:

Pro: Judge Bernard A. Friedman, Michigan marriage, 3/21/14; Circuit Judge Juan R. Torruella, First Circuit DOMA majority, 5/31/12 (appointed to district court by Ford); Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, DOMA administrative ruling, 1/9/12; Judge Vaughn Walker, Prop 8 district court ruling, 8/4/10 (confirmed after GHW Bush appointment, but first appointed by Reagan).

Con: Circuit Court Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, Fourth Circuit dissent, Virginia marriage, 7/28/14 (appointed to district court by Reagan, appointed to circuit court by GWH Bush).

JIMMY CARTER

Pro: Judge Barbara Crabb, Wisconsin marriage, 6/6/14; Judge Stephen Reinhardt, Ninth Circuit Prop 8 majority, 2/7/12.

GERALD FORD

Pro: Circuit Judge Juan R. Torruella, First Circuit DOMA majority, 5/31/12 (appointed to district court by Ford, to circuit court by Reagan).

RICHARD NIXON

Pro: Judge Joseph Tauro DOMA district court ruling, 7/8/10.

 

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