Richard Clifton

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Richard Randall Clifton
Richard R. Clifton Circuit Judge.jpg
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Assumed office
December 31, 2016
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
In office
July 30, 2002 – December 31, 2016
Appointed byGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byCynthia Holcomb Hall
Succeeded byMark J. Bennett
Personal details
Richard Randall Clifton

(1950-11-13) November 13, 1950 (age 69)
Framingham, Massachusetts
EducationPrinceton University (A.B.)
Yale Law School (J.D.)

Richard Randall Clifton (born November 13, 1950) is a Senior United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Education and legal training[edit]

Clifton received an Artium Baccalaureus degree at Princeton University and a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School. After law school, he clerked for Ninth Circuit Judge Herbert Choy.[1]

Professional career[edit]

Following his clerkship, he was in private practice in Honolulu, Hawaii until his appointment to the federal bench. He also taught for several years at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii as an adjunct professor.

Federal judicial service[edit]

He was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by George W. Bush on September 4, 2001 to fill a seat vacated by Cynthia Holcomb Hall, and confirmed by the United States Senate 98-0 on July 30, 2002.[2] He assumed senior status on December 31, 2016.[3] He was Bush's first appointment to the Ninth Circuit.

Notable cases[edit]

In 2006, he was one of the judges on the panel that upheld the imprisonment of journalist Josh Wolf.[4]

On February 7, 2017, Judge Clifton along with fellow Ninth Circuit judges William Canby and Michelle Friedland heard oral arguments on a motion from the Trump administration to stay the temporary restraining order in State of Washington v. Trump, part of the ongoing court cases related to Executive Order 13769.[5][6] A live audio feed[7] of the telephonic argument was broadcast nationwide.[5][6] On February 9, the three judges denied the request for a stay of the temporary restraining order.[8][9]

In July 2018, Clifton dissented when the court found that Hawaii's licensing requirement to openly carry firearms violated the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.[10][11]

On July 3, 2019, in a follow-up ruling to the February 2017 ruling, Clifton and Michelle T. Friedland upheld a district court's halting of parts of Donald Trump's wall. N. Randy Smith issued a dissent, and on July 26, the Supreme Court overturned Friedland and Clifton by a 5-3 vote on ideological lines with Stephen Breyer saying he would temporarily block the construction of the wall but allow funding to be set aside for it.[12][13]

On November 29, 2019, Clifton temporarily halted the execution of Barry Lee Jones, who was convicted of one count of sexual assault, 3 counts of child abuse, and a felony murder.[14]


  1. ^ Boylan, Peter (March 12, 2004). "Herbert Choy served on 9th Circuit Court". Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  2. ^ "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 107th Congress - 2nd Session".
  3. ^ "Ninth Circuit Judge Richard R. Clifton Announces Intention to Take Senior Status" (PDF). Public Information Office. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  4. ^ Josh Wolf v. United States Ninth Circuit
  5. ^ a b Liptak, Adam (2017-02-06). "Justice Department Urges Appeals Court to Reinstate Trump's Travel Ban". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  6. ^ a b "Motions Panel". Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  7. ^ United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (2017-02-07), 17-35105 State of Washington, et al. v. Donald J. Trump et al., retrieved 2017-02-09
  8. ^ Liptak, Adam (2017-02-09). "Court Refuses to Reinstate Travel Ban, Dealing Trump Another Legal Loss". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  9. ^ "Published Order Denying Stay" (PDF). Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. February 9, 2017. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  10. ^ Note, Recent Case: Ninth Circuit Panel Holds Open-Carry Law Infringes Core Right to Bear Arms in Public, 132 Harv. L. Rev. 2066 (2019).
  11. ^ Young v. Hawaii, 896 F.3d 1044 (9th Cir. 2018).
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Cynthia Holcomb Hall
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Succeeded by
Mark J. Bennett