Gilbert S. Merritt Jr.

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Gilbert Merritt
Gilbert Merritt Circuit Judge.jpg
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
In office
October 1, 1989 – September 30, 1996
Preceded by Albert Engel
Succeeded by Boyce Martin
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
In office
October 31, 1977 – January 17, 2001
Appointed by Jimmy Carter
Preceded by William Miller
Succeeded by Julia Gibbons
Personal details
Born (1936-01-17) January 17, 1936 (age 81)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Alma mater Yale University (BA)
Vanderbilt University (LLB)
Harvard University (LLM)

Gilbert Stroud Merritt Jr. (born January 17, 1936) is an American lawyer and jurist. He currently is a senior judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Early life[edit]

Merritt was born in 1936 in Nashville, Tennessee. He attended public elementary school in Nashville and the Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, Tennessee. Merritt attended Yale University, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1957 and an LL.B from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1960. As a law student, Merritt was a member of the Order of the Coif and served as managing editor of Vanderbilt Law Review. He served as assistant dean and instructor at Vanderbilt University Law School from 1960 to 1961, and he earned an LL.M from Harvard Law School in 1962.

Legal career[edit]

Merritt was in private practice in Nashville from 1962 to 1963 with the law firm of Boult, Hunt, Cummins and Connors. He served as an associate metropolitan attorney for the City of Nashville from 1963 to 1966, and as the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee from 1966 to 1969. From 1969 to 1970 Merritt was an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt University Law School. He returned to private practice in Nashville as a partner in the firm Gullett, Steele, Sanford, Robinson and Merritt from 1970 to 1970, specializing on federal civil and criminal litigation. Merritt served as a lecturer at Vanderbilt University Law School from 1973 to 1975 and as executive secretary of the Tennessee Code Commission in 1977.

President Jimmy Carter nominated him to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on August 25, 1977, for the seat vacated by William Ernest Miller. Merritt was confirmed by the Senate on October 29, 1977, and received commission on October 31, 1977. Merritt served as chief judge on the court from 1989 to 1996. He assumed senior status on January 17, 2001.

When Supreme Court Associate Justice Byron White retired in 1993, Merritt was considered a potential nominee, along with Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and Stephen Breyer of the First Circuit, who was eventually nominated by President Bill Clinton and subsequently joined the Court. Thomas L. Friedman, writing for the New York Times at the time, wrote that Merritt "is considered a moderate who would generate some Republican support" but noted that reports of his consideration "drew the ire" of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which "criticized Judge Merritt for ordering an inquiry into the Justice Department's handling of the extradition of John Demjanjuk, who was convicted of Nazi war crimes by an Israeli court."[1][2]

Merritt resides in Nashville, Tennessee and serves as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University Law School.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Friedman, Thomas L. "Latest Version of Supreme Court List: Babbitt in Lead, 2 Judges Close Behind." New York Times 8 June 1993.
  2. ^ Berke, Richard L. "2 Republicans Oppose Naming Babbitt to Court." New York Times 9 June 1993.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
William Miller
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Succeeded by
Julia Gibbons
Preceded by
Albert Engel
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Succeeded by
Boyce Martin