Arenda L. Wright Allen

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Arenda Lauretta Wright Allen
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
Assumed office
May 12, 2011
Appointed by Barack Obama
Preceded by Jerome B. Friedman
Personal details
Born 1960 (age 56–57)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education Kutztown University of Pennsylvania (B.A.)
North Carolina Central University School of Law (J.D.)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of the Navy.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1985–2005
Rank US-O5 insignia.svg Commander
Unit Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps

Arenda Lauretta Wright Allen (born 1960) is a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. She formerly worked as an Assistant United States Attorney and a Federal Public Defender in Norfolk, Virginia.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Philadelphia, Wright Allen graduated from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania (then called Kutztown State College) with her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1982 and later from North Carolina Central University School of Law with a Juris Doctor in 1985.[1] In May 2013, Wright Allen was awarded an honorary doctorate from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.[2]

Legal career[edit]

Wright Allen started her legal career as a Judge Advocate General's Corps officer in the United States Navy as an active duty officer between 1985 and 1990 and in the United States Navy Reserve between 1992 and 2005. She was an assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia from 2001 to 2005. Wright Allen joined the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia in 2005, where she had served as a Supervisory Assistant Federal Public Defender until becoming a federal judge in 2011.[3][1]

Federal judicial service[edit]

On the recommendation of Senators Jim Webb and Mark R. Warner, Wright Allen was nominated to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia by President Barack Obama on December 1, 2010 to a seat vacated Jerome B. Friedman, who assumed senior status on November 30, 2010.[1] The United States Senate confirmed Wright Allen on May 11, 2011 in a 96–0 vote.[4] She received her judicial commission the following day.[1]

Overturning Virginia's Same-Sex Marriage Ban[edit]

On February 13, 2014, Judge Wright Allen overturned Virginia's statutory same-sex marriage ban, finding the ban unconstitutional.[5] In her ruling, Judge Wright Allen inadvertently attributed the principle that "all men are created equal" to the Constitution, rather than the Declaration of Independence - an error which she corrected in a subsequent amended ruling.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Allen is married to Delroy Allen, a retired Jamaican-American soccer player.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d "Allen, Arenda Lauretta Wright - Federal Judicial Center". 
  2. ^ "KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY AWARDS HONORARY DOCTORATE TO JUDGE ARENDA L. WRIG…". 10 October 2013. Archived from the original on 10 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Spemcer S. Hsu (December 1, 2010). "Norfolk lawyer nominated as fed judge". The Crime Scene. The Washington Post Company. Retrieved December 7, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Judicial Nominations and Confirmations: 112th Congress". 8 January 2011. Archived from the original on 8 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "Federal Judge Overturns Virginia's Same-Sex Marriage Ban". The New York Times. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  6. ^ Barnes, Robert (2014-02-14). "Judge on Va. gay-marriage ban: 'When core civil rights are at stake, the judiciary must act'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-02-23. 
  7. ^ "Judge in gay marriage case difficult to pigeonhole". The Washington Post. February 6, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Jerome B. Friedman
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia