Roger Vinson

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Roger Vinson
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida
Assumed office
March 31, 2005
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida
In office
Preceded by Maurice M. Paul
Succeeded by Robert Lewis Hinkle
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida
In office
October 5, 1983 – March 31, 2005
Appointed by Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Lynn Carlton Higby
Succeeded by John Richard Smoak Jr.
Personal details
Born Clyde Roger Vinson
(1940-02-19) February 19, 1940 (age 78)
Cadiz, Kentucky
Education United States Naval Academy (B.S.)
Vanderbilt University Law School (J.D.)

Clyde Roger Vinson (born February 19, 1940) is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida. Until May 3, 2013 he was also a member of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.[1][2]

Education and career[edit]

Born in Cadiz, Kentucky, Vinson attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering. He served at Naval Air Station Pensacola as a naval aviator from 1962 to 1968, attaining the rank of lieutenant. After his service, he attended Vanderbilt University Law School and received his Juris Doctor in 1971. Returning to Pensacola, Florida, Vinson joined the law firm of Beggs & Lane, where he practiced general civil law from 1971 to 1983.[3]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Vinson was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on September 9, 1983, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida vacated by Judge Lynn Carlton Higby. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 4, 1983, and received his commission on October 5, 1983. He served as Chief Judge from 1997 to 2004. He assumed senior status on March 31, 2005.[3]

Vinson was appointed to serve a seven-year term on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, effective May 4, 2006.[4] As a member of the FISA court, Vinson issued a top secret court order on April 25, 2013 requiring Verizon's Business Network Services to provide metadata on all calls in its system to the National Security Agency "on an ongoing daily basis".[5][6]

Notable cases[edit]

In 2010, Vinson was assigned to hear a case, Florida et al v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, brought by a group of 26 states that was filed with support by 22 attorneys general and four governors challenging the constitutionality of the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), specifically its requirement that most individuals obtain medical insurance. The suit is the second of more than 15 lawsuits filed against the act that has advanced to this stage of litigation.[12]

On January 31, 2011, Vinson ruled that the individual mandate provision of the PPACA violated the Constitution by regulating economic inactivity, and as the mandate is not severable the entire statute was ruled unconstitutional. Vinson allowed the law to stand while it was being appealed by the Obama administration.[13][14] Vinson later issued a stay to his January ruling, allowing implementation to proceed while its constitutionality was weighed.[15][16]

Sentencing philosophy[edit]

Vinson is noted for being a hardline judge who refuses to depart from maximum sentences in spite of their severity, even though he agrees his very own sentences are far too high. In his own words: "The punishment is supposed to fit the crime, but when a legislative body says this is going to be the sentence no matter what other factors there are, that's draconian in every sense of the word. Mandatory sentences breed injustice."[17]

Personal life[edit]

In 2009, Vinson was installed as president of the American Camellia Society.[18]


  1. ^ "THE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE COURT: 2013 Membership". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  2. ^ John Shiffman, Kristina Cooke (2013-06-21). "The judges who preside over America's secret court". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2013-07-01. Twelve of the 14 judges who have served this year on the most secret court in America are Republicans and half are former prosecutors. 
  3. ^ a b Clyde Roger Vinson at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  4. ^ Aftergood, Steven (May 24, 2006). "New FISA Court Judge Appointed". Federation of American Scientists. Secrecy News. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  5. ^ Greenwald, Glenn (June 5, 2013). "NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans daily". The Guardian. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ Charlie Savage and Edward Wyatt, "U.S. Is Secretly Collecting Records of Verizon Calls", The New York Times, June 5, 2013. Accessed June 6, 2013.
  7. ^ Staff report (April 25, 1985). 2 of 4 Are Guilty of Clinic Bombing. The New York Times
  8. ^ Associated Press (September 11, 1988). Judge Overturns Ban on Film. The New York Times
  9. ^ Staff report (January 28, 1993). Shoney's Bias Suit Settled. The New York Times
  10. ^ Smothers, Ronald (October 6, 1994). Protester Is Guilty Under Clinic Access Law. The New York Times
  11. ^ Martinez, Edecio (August 21, 2009). Millionaire Who Faked Death Sobs in Court; Gets 4 Years. CBS News
  12. ^ Sack, Kevin (September 14, 2010). "Suit on Health Care Bill Appears Likely to Advance". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ Sack, Kevin (January 31, 2011). "Federal Judge Rules Health Law Violates Constitution". The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Health Care Ruling by Judge Vinson". Scribd (preview). January 31, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  15. ^ Kendall, Brent (March 4, 2011). Health Overhaul Is Given Reprieve. Wall Street Journal
  16. ^ "Judge Vinson's Order Staying Health Care Reform Unconstitutional Ruling". Scribd (full text). March 3, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  17. ^ Tierney, John (December 11, 2012). "For Lesser Crimes, Rethinking Life Behind Bars". The New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  18. ^ "American Camellia Society Board of Directors". American Camillia Society. 2010. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 


External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Lynn Carlton Higby
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida
Succeeded by
John Richard Smoak Jr.
Preceded by
Maurice M. Paul
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida
Succeeded by
Robert Lewis Hinkle