Marsha S. Berzon

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Marsha Siegel Berzon
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Assumed office
March 16, 2000
Appointed byBill Clinton
Preceded byJohn T. Noonan, Jr.
Personal details
Born (1945-04-17) April 17, 1945 (age 73)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Stephen Berzon
ChildrenAlexandra Berzon (daughter)
EducationRadcliffe College (B.A.)
UC Berkeley School of Law (J.D.)

Marsha Siegel Berzon (born April 17, 1945) is a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[1]

Education and legal training[edit]

Berzon graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Radcliffe College of Harvard University in 1966 and received a Juris Doctor from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley in 1973. While at law school, Berzon was a contributor to the California Law Review. She then clerked for Judge James R. Browning of the Ninth Circuit from 1973 to 1974. Berzon then clerked for Associate Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. of the United States Supreme Court. She was Justice Brennan's first female law clerk.[2]


Berzon was in private practice in Washington, D.C. from 1975 to 1977 and then moved to San Francisco, California where she practiced from 1978 to 2000 at Altshuler Berzon, a union-side law firm founded by herself, her husband Stephen Berzon, and Fred Altshuler. Berzon had a unique Supreme Court litigation practice and litigated many of the landmark cases during that period. Berzon was also a lecturer at UC Berkeley in 1992 and a practitioner-in-residence at Cornell Law School in 1994.[2]

Federal judicial service[edit]

On January 27, 1998, Berzon was nominated by Bill Clinton to the Ninth Circuit for the seat vacated when John T. Noonan took senior status in late 1996. Clinton renominated Berzon on January 26, 1999. Berzon was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a 64-34 vote on March 9, 2000 and received her commission on March 16, 2000.[2]

Notable cases[edit]

In a 2009 decision, Judge Berzon wrote that while a San Francisco resolution condemning the Vatican is in line with current Establishment Clause jurisprudence, she was troubled by how close the resolution came to the establishment of an anti-Catholic stance.[3]

In October 2014, Judge Berzon joined an opinion that held same sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada violated the U.S. Constitution. She wrote a concurring opinion concluding that the prohibitions were not only discrimination based upon sexual orientation, but a form of gender discrimination and therefore subject to heightened scrutiny.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Berzon is the mother of Alexandra Berzon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Las Vegas Sun.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bernan Press; Federal Judicial Center (2001). Biographical Directory of the Federal Judiciary. Bernan Press. ISBN 9780890592588. Retrieved 2015-04-12.
  2. ^ a b c "Berzon, Marsha Siegel - Federal Judicial Center".
  3. ^ "JURIST - Paper Chase: Ninth Circuit upholds resolution urging Catholics to permit same-sex adoptions". Archived from the original on 2009-06-05. Retrieved 2015-04-12.
  4. ^ "UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT, No. 14-35420, D.C. No. 1:13-cv-00482-CWD" (PDF). 7 October 2014. Retrieved 2015-04-12.
  5. ^ "What Happened in Vegas: A Pulitzer Shines on the Sun". 2009-04-22. Retrieved 2009-04-22.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
John T. Noonan, Jr.
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit