Peter Jo Messitte

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Peter Jo Messitte
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
Assumed office
September 1, 2008
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
In office
October 20, 1993 – September 1, 2008
Appointed byBill Clinton
Preceded byJoseph C. Howard, Sr.
Succeeded byGeorge Levi Russell III
Personal details
Peter Jo Messitte

(1941-07-17) July 17, 1941 (age 79)
Washington, D.C.
EducationAmherst College (B.A.)
University of Chicago Law School (J.D.)

Peter Jo Messitte (born July 17, 1941) is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

Education and career[edit]

Born in Washington, D.C., Messitte received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College in 1963 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School in 1966. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in São Paulo, Brazil, from 1966 to 1968. He was in private practice in Washington, D.C., from 1969 to 1971. He was in private practice in Chevy Chase, Maryland, from 1971 to 1985. He was an Associate judge, Circuit Court, Montgomery County, Maryland, from 1985 to 1993.

Federal judicial service[edit]

On August 6, 1993, Messitte was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Maryland vacated by Joseph C. Howard, Sr. Messitte was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 18, 1993, and received his commission on October 20, 1993. He assumed senior status on September 1, 2008.

Notable rulings[edit]

On July 15, 2014, in a procedural order for a lawsuit against the Washington, D.C., football team, Judge Messitte banned the use of the word "Redskins" in his courtroom and in court documents.[1] The judge did not explain the reason for his order, but it was assumed to be due to the Washington Redskins name controversy.

On July 25, 2018, Judge Messitte denied President Trump's motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Maryland and the District of Columbia for his alleged violation of the emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution.[2] On July 10, 2019, The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overruled Judge Messitte, expressly finding he abused his discretion for refusing to certify an interlocutory appeal and further finding the plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue the underlying case.[3] The Court noted "Neither [Emoluments (foreign and domestic)] Clause expressly confers any rights on any person, nor does either Clause specify any remedy for a violation."

Through a preliminary injunction[4] issued on January 15, 2020, Judge Messite temporarily blocked President Donald Trump's executive order that allows governors to stop refugee resettlement in their states. Judge Messite stated that the executive order "does not appear to serve the overall public interest." As a result of the ruling, US refugee resettlement agencies can proceed with funding requests without having to obtain letters of consent from state and local officials.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Federal judge bans 'Redskins' from his courtroom, WUSA 9, Jul. 15, 2014
  2. ^ Judge allows case alleging illegal foreign gifts to proceed against President, CNN, July 25, 2018
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Shoichet, Catherine (January 15, 2020). "Judge blocks Trump's executive order on refugee resettlement". CNN Politics. Retrieved January 16, 2020.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Joseph C. Howard, Sr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
Succeeded by
George Levi Russell III