Edith Jones

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This article is about the American judge. For the advocate for indigenous Australian rights, see Edith Jones (activist). For the American physician, see Edith Irby Jones.
Edith Jones
Edith Jones in Iraq.jpg
Judge on United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Assumed office
April 4, 1985
Appointed by Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Seat established
Chief Judge of United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
In office
January 30, 2006 – October 1, 2012
Preceded by Carolyn Dineen King
Succeeded by Carl Stewart
Personal details
Born (1949-04-07) April 7, 1949 (age 67)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Spouse(s) Sherwood Jones
Education Cornell University (BA)
University of Texas, Austin (JD)

Edith Hollan Jones (born April 7, 1949) is a judge and the former Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Jones graduated from Cornell University in 1971. She received her J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law in 1974, where she was a member of the Texas Law Review. She was in private practice in Houston, Texas, from 1974 until 1985, working for the firm of Andrews, Kurth, Campbell & Jones, where she became the firm's first female partner. She specialized in bankruptcy law. She also served as General Counsel for the Republican Party of Texas from 1982 to 1983.

She was nominated to the Fifth Circuit by President Ronald Reagan on February 27, 1985, and confirmed by the United States Senate on April 3, 1985. She received her commission on April 4, 1985, at the age of 36. She became Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit on January 16, 2006, upon the expiration of the term of Carolyn Dineen King.[1]

She sits on the board of directors of the Boy Scouts of America and the Garland Walker American Inns of Court.

In 2010, Jones visited Iraq as part of the U.S. State Department's Rule of Law program, where she advised and encouraged Iraqi and Kurdish judges.[2]

Jones has been mentioned frequently as being on the list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court of the United States. A 1990 report from The New York Times cited her as George H.W. Bush's second choice for the Supreme Court vacancy filled by Justice David Souter.[3] The Chicago Sun-Times and several other newspapers reported on July 1, 2005, that she had also been considered for nomination to the Supreme Court during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Legal philosophy[edit]

In her opinions, she has questioned the legal reasoning which legalized abortion, advocated streamlining death penalty cases, invalidated a federal ban on possession of machine guns and advocated toughening bankruptcy laws.

McCorvey v. Hill[edit]

Jones attracted attention for her opinion in the case of McCorvey v. Hill, which was a request by the Ms. McCorvey, the 'Jane Roe' of Roe v. Wade to vacate the finding of that case. Jones joined the Fifth Circuit in rejecting the petition on procedural grounds but took the unusual step of handing down a six-page concurrence to the judgment of the court.

The concurrence credited the evidence presented by McCorvey and sharply criticized the Supreme Court's rulings in Roe and in the less famous (decided simultaneously) case of Doe v. Bolton. She quoted Justice Byron White's dissent in the latter, describing the Supreme Court's decision as an "exercise of raw judicial power".[4] She concluded: "That the court's constitutional decision making leaves our nation in a position of willful blindness to evolving knowledge should trouble any dispassionate observer not only about the abortion decisions, but about a number of other areas in which the court unhesitatingly steps into the realm of social policy under the guise of constitutional adjudication".[5]

Ethical complaint[edit]

A group of civil rights organizations and legal ethicists filed a complaint of misconduct against Jones on June 4, 2013, after she allegedly said that "racial groups like African-Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to crime," and are "prone to commit acts of violence" which are more "heinous" than members of other ethnic groups.[6][7] According to the complaint, Jones also stated that a death sentence is a service to defendants because it allows them to make peace with God and she "referred to her personal religious views as justification for the death penalty".[8] Jones allegedly made the remarks during a speech to the University of Pennsylvania Federalist Society.

In part because Jones was recently the Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts (in his administrative capacity) transferred the complaints to the judicial ethics panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.[9]

On August 12, 2014, the judicial ethics panel of the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the complaint, citing lack of evidence to justify disciplining Jones. The complainants appealed to the Judicial Conference of the United States,[10][11] which affirmed the ruling of the judicial ethics panel in February 2015.[12]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Legal offices
New seat Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Preceded by
Carolyn Dineen King
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Succeeded by
Carl Stewart