HONORING JUDGE ROGER L. GREGORY OF THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT

July 8, 2016
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I rise today to congratulate Judge Roger L. Gregory on his ascension to the rank of Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Saturday, July 9, 2016. As the highest ranking judge of the Richmond-based Fourth Circuit, Judge Gregory will preside as ``first among equals'' over 15 active and two senior judges that are responsible for appellate cases rising from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina--a jurisdiction that includes almost 30 million people.

Judge Gregory's service on the bench is historic in a couple of respects. He is the first African American to serve on the Fourth Circuit, which was the only remaining federal circuit in the nation where all of the judges were white. He came to the Fourth Circuit as a recess appointment of President William Jefferson Clinton on December 27, 2000. Despite the bipartisan support of the Commonwealth of Virginia's two U.S. Senators, John Warner (R) and Charles Robb (D)--and the fact that the Fourth Circuit had several vacancies--Judge Gregory's nomination in June 2000 to the Fourth Circuit was effectively blocked by Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina who opposed efforts to diversify the courts.

Judge Gregory made history again when he became the only person in United States history to have been appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals by presidents of two different political parties. He was reappointed by President George W. Bush, with the support of Senator John Warner and newly elected Senator George Allen, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 20, 2001.

During the past 15 years on the bench, Judge Gregory has developed a reputation as a distinguished and brilliant jurist. He is seen as a leader in forging consensus in the Fourth Circuit and providing legal analysis that has helped to evolve the thinking of the court. Judge Gregory was on the panel of judges that heard two groundbreaking cases that were eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2014, Judge Gregory was part of the Fourth Circuit's unanimous ruling in King v. Burwell to conclude that the government's interpretation of the final rule implementing the premium tax credit provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should be given deference. On July 28, 2014, Judge Gregory was part of the Fourth Circuit's majority decision that ruled 2-1 in Bostic v. Schaefer to strike down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage as ``impermissibly infring[ing] on its citizens' fundamental right to marry.'' The Supreme Court eventually affirmed the ruling in King v. Burwell and denied a writ of certiorari in Bostic v. Schaefer, letting that decision stand.

Judge Gregory's legal stewardship was displayed in the case of Henry v. Purnell, an important case about excessive force by police and qualified immunity In the original three-judge panel opinion, he filed a dissenting opinion. But when the case was heard en banc, before all the judges of the Fourth Circuit, Judge Gregory amassed a wide 10-3 majority of the court to support his position and hold that the use of force was objectively unreasonable. Judge Gregory's reasoning in his Fourth Circuit dissents was also the basis of two U.S. Supreme Court's majority decisions. One case that reversed a Truth-in-Lending Act decision in the Koons Buick Pontiac v. Nigh (2004) and another that approved Judge Gregory's approach in FEC v. Beaumont (2003).

Equally remarkable is Judge Gregory's personal story and professional successes. Roger Gregory was born in Philadelphia, but was adopted by a family and raised in the ``Heights'' section of Petersburg, Virginia. On reflecting on his parents, Judge Gregory said ``I think about my parents. They worked in a tobacco factory and had very little formal education. They got up early and worked more time to earn wages so I could learn my letters.''

Judge Gregory ``learned his letters'' and then some. He attended segregated schools until the eleventh grade and became the first person in his family to graduate from high school. He graduated summa cum laude from Virginia State University and earned a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1978. He also holds honorary degrees from Virginia Union University, Virginia State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Widener University and Saint Paul's College.

After a stint at corporate law firms, he formed the law firm of Wilder & Gregory with former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder. He practiced law at Wilder & Gregory and served as managing partner and head of the litigation section of the firm until his appointment to the Fourth Circuit in 2000.

Judge Gregory is widely admired and respected by his colleagues on the bench and in the Virginia Bar. He has supported numerous charitable, legal, and educational organizations and currently serves on the board of trustees of the University of Richmond and the John Marshall Foundation. Judge Gregory is a past rector and member of the Board of Visitors of Virginia Commonwealth University and served on the Board of Visitors of Virginia State University, where he taught as an adjunct professor of Constitutional Law.

Judge Gregory is an active member of Good Shepherd Baptist Church, in Petersburg, Virginia, where he serves as Artistic Director of the Drama Ministry. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the Alpha Beta Boulé of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.

The appointment of Roger Gregory as Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will be celebrated by many who value the wisdom of a wise jurist who holds the deepest respect for the U.S. Constitution. This honor is celebrated especially by his wife Velda Edwards Gregory; his daughters Adriene, Rachel and Christina; and Kai, his only granddaughter and the ``apple of [his] eye.''

Mr. Speaker, I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Judge Gregory. The people of the Fourth Circuit should be reassured that they have a defender of justice and fairness.