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Sidney R. Thomas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sidney Runyan Thomas
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Assumed office
December 1, 2014
Preceded byAlex Kozinski
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Assumed office
January 4, 1996
Appointed byBill Clinton
Preceded byDorothy Wright Nelson
Personal details
Sidney Runyan Thomas

(1953-08-14) August 14, 1953 (age 67)
Bozeman, Montana
EducationMontana State University (BA)
University of Montana (JD)

Sidney Runyan Thomas (born August 14, 1953) is Chief United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. His chambers are located in Billings, Montana.

Early life and education

Thomas was born in Bozeman, Montana. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Montana State University in 1975 and his Juris Doctor with honors from the University of Montana School of Law in 1978.[1] He was appointed as a student member of the state Board of Regents of Higher Education in 1974 and reappointed in 1976.[2]

Professional career

After graduating from law school, Thomas entered private practice at Moulton, Bellingham, Longo & Mather, a law firm in Billings, Montana.[2] He became a senior partner there, where he specialized in commercial litigation[2] as well as government, bankruptcy and media law.[3]

Thomas also served as the standing bankruptcy trustee for all bankruptcy cases filed in the Billings Division of the United States District Court for the District of Montana from 1978 to 1981 and served as an adjunct instructor in law at Rocky Mountain College from 1982 to 1995.[4]

Federal judicial service

On July 19, 1995, President Bill Clinton nominated Thomas to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated by Judge Dorothy Wright Nelson. The United States Senate confirmed Thomas in a voice vote on January 2, 1996. His nomination had been briefly held up by U.S. Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, who wanted the nominations of Thomas and A. Wallace Tashima delayed until the passage of a bill to split the Ninth Circuit into two circuits.[1] He received his commission on January 4, 1996. He has served as Chief Judge since December 1, 2014, succeeding Judge Alex Kozinski.[5][6]

Notable case

Thomas authored the opinion in Nadarajah v. Gonzales,[7] a civil rights case in 2006 on a suspected Tamil Tiger immigrant.

Thomas was in the majority in Peruta v. San Diego, a 2016 ordinance that ruled that San Diego's restrictive gun policy was constitutional.[citation needed]

En banc coordinator

Judge Thomas is the en banc coordinator for the Ninth Circuit, whose parliamentarian-type duties can affect the outcome of any case. "I've never known one of his rulings to be challenged," the Ninth Circuit's Chief Judge, Alex Kozinski, stated. "I think it's a tribute to his evenhandedness that he's been on the job for many years, and nobody wants a different en banc coordinator."[8]

Supreme Court consideration

Senior White House officials listed Thomas among the approximately 10 individuals who were considered to replace retiring United States Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.

On April 29, 2010, the Associated Press reported that President Barack Obama had interviewed Thomas at the White House.[9][10] Vice President Joe Biden also interviewed him. Obama eventually nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who was confirmed.


Thomas is married to Martha Sheehy, a Billings attorney who has practiced law since 1988.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Senate Confirms Tashima, Thomas to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals". Metropolitan News-Enterprise. January 3, 1996. p. 1.
  2. ^ a b c Lorna Thackeray, Thomas’ Colleagues Hail Judge’s Credentials, Billings Gazette (April 16, 2010).
  3. ^ "Clinton Nominates Montana Lawyer for Ninth Circuit Seat". Associated Press. July 19, 1995. p. 1.
  4. ^ "President Nominates Sidney Thomas to Appeals Court". U.S. Newswire. July 20, 1995.
  5. ^ "Thomas, Sidney Runyan - Federal Judicial Center".
  6. ^ ""Judge From Billings to Lead Federal Appeals Court" Houston Chronicle, November 23, 2014".
  7. ^ Nadarajah v. Gonzales, 443 F.3d 1069 (9th Cir. 2006).
  8. ^ "Source: Potential High Court Nominee Thomas Would Fit Obama Narrative". The Recorder / Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  9. ^ "Source: Judge Sidney Thomas on Supreme Court list". Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
  10. ^ "Obama interviews Thomas, Garland for high court". Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  11. ^ CLAIR JOHNSON Billings Gazette (3 December 2012). "Obama to appoint 2 federal judges in Montana in 2013".

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Dorothy Wright Nelson
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Preceded by
Alex Kozinski
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
This page was last edited on 3 April 2021, at 22:01
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