Stephanos Bibas

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Stephanos Bibas
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Assumed office
November 20, 2017
Appointed byDonald Trump
Preceded byMidge Rendell
Personal details
Stephanos Bibas[1]

1969 (age 51–52)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationColumbia University (B.A.)
University College, Oxford (B.A.)
Yale Law School (J.D.)

Stephanos Bibas (born 1969)[2] is an American lawyer and jurist who serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Before his appointment to the bench, Bibas was a professor of law and criminology and director of the Supreme Court clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He is a noted scholar of criminal procedure with expertise in criminal charging, plea bargaining, and sentencing.[3][4] As a professor, Bibas examined how procedural rules written for jury trials have unintended consequences when cases involving jury trials are the exception, rather than the rule, with 95 percent of defendants pleading guilty. Bibas also studied the role of substantive goals such as remorse and apology in criminal procedure.

Early life and education[edit]

Bibas was born in New York City and spent his summers growing up working for his father, a Greek immigrant who survived the occupation of Greece during World War II, in his family's restaurants. In high school, he became involved in debate and public speaking. He graduated high school at the age of 15 and entered Columbia University.[5]

At Columbia, Bibas was a member of the Philolexian Society and participated in Parliamentary debate. He graduated from Columbia in 1989 at age 19 with a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude in political theory.[6] He then went on to attend University College, Oxford, graduating two years later with a Bachelor of Arts (promoted per tradition to a Master of Arts) in jurisprudence. While at Oxford, Bibas won the 1st place speaker award in the World Debate Championships.

Bibas then attended Yale Law School.[7] At Yale Law, Bibas joined the moot court team and won awards for the best oralist and best team, and also served as a symposium editor on the Yale Law Journal.[8] He graduated from Yale with a Juris Doctor in 1994.

Professional career[edit]

From 1994 to 1995, Bibas clerked for Judge Patrick Higginbotham of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He worked in private practice with the law firm Covington & Burling from 1995 to 1997, then clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1997 to 1998, where he was a co-clerk of Raymond Kethledge.[9]

Before beginning his academic career, Bibas was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he successfully prosecuted the world's leading expert in Tiffany stained glass for hiring a grave robber to steal Tiffany windows from cemeteries.[10]

From 2006 to 2017, Bibas was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He received the Robert A. Gorman Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2008. Bibas previously taught at the University of Chicago Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law and was a research fellow at Yale Law School.[9]

Bibas is the 15th-most-cited law professor by the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals, and state high courts[11] as well as the 5th-most-cited professor of criminal law and procedure by law professors.[12]

Supreme Court clinic[edit]

Bibas also directed Penn Law's Supreme Court clinic, for which he litigated a wide range of appellate cases under consideration by the United States Supreme Court. The clinic allows students to assist on real Supreme Court cases, including recruiting, strategising, researching, writing briefs, participating in moot court rehearsals, and attending oral arguments at the Court itself. The Court appointed him to brief and argue Tapia v. United States as amicus curiae.[13] The Court praised Bibas and the clinic for doing "an exceptionally good job" on that case.[14]

Cases argued

Federal judicial service[edit]

On June 19, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Bibas to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, to fill the seat vacated by Judge Midge Rendell, who took senior status on July 1, 2015.[15] On October 4, 2017, a hearing on his nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[16] On October 26, 2017, his nomination was reported out of committee by an 11–9 roll call vote.[17] On November 2, 2017, his nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate by a vote of 53–43.[18] He received his judicial commission on November 20, 2017. Judge Bibas also has sat by designation as a trial judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.[19]

Bibas’s judicial writing style has been called “instantly recognizable”; its use of short, punchy sentences and colorful examples aims for "radical clarity."[20] His writing style and typography have been praised as “point[ing] the way to opinions that are more professional-looking and readable.” [21]

As covered in the Wall Street Journal, Bibas has stated: "My boss is not my chief judge. My boss is not my appointing president. My boss is the Constitution and the laws."[22]

Selected opinions[edit]

Bibas has authored dozens of opinions on a wide range of subjects, including the following notable opinions:

  • Vorchheimer v. The Philadelphian Owners Association, 903 F.3d 100 (3d Cir. 2018). Writing for the court, Judge Bibas articulated a clear, textual standard for "necessity" under the Fair Housing Amendments Act. He looked to the ordinary use of the term, citing dictionaries, popular books, and even the Rolling Stones, to determine the term's scope. [24]
  • Jacobs v. Federal Housing Finance Agency, 908 F.3d 884 (3d Cir. 2018). Writing for the court, Judge Bibas upheld, on statutory grounds, the creation of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), a government conservator that took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and helped rescue the nation's economy after the housing crisis of 2008, as well as the FHFA's ability to retain Fannie and Freddie's future net profits in exchange for taking on their crisis-era liabilities. [25]
  • E.O.H.C. v. Secretary U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 950 F.3d 177 (3d Cir. 2020). Writing for the court, Judge Bibas held that district courts have jurisdiction to hear a wide array of "now or never" challenges to the conditions of an immigrant detainee's confinement. Among them were the plaintiffs' challenges to (1) the Trump Administration's Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and (2) alleged violations of the Flores Settlement Agreement. [27]
  • McCafferty v. Newsweek Media Group, 955 F.3d 352 (3d Cir. 2020). Writing for the court, Judge Bibas affirmed, on First Amendment grounds, the dismissal of a defamation complaint against Newsweek brought by a twelve-year-old, politically vocal supporter of Donald Trump. Bibas wrote: "Political discourse can be bruising. People often express opinions that offend others. But the First Amendment protects virtually all of those opinions, even offensive and hurtful ones, to promote a greater good: robust political discourse. The price of free speech is putting up with all sorts of name-calling and hurtful rhetoric."[28]
  • Folajtar v. Attorney General of the United States, 980 F.3d 897 (3d Cir. 2020) (Bibas, J., dissenting). Judge Bibas dissented from a majority opinion that held that the government could, consistent with the Second Amendment, permanently ban gun possession by all felons, regardless of whether their crimes were violent or dangerous. Bibas canvassed the original history of the Second Amendment and historical laws that had limited the right to bear arms, ultimately concluding that a citizen’s dangerousness, not her virtuousness, is what separates those who can and cannot be denied the right to bear arms. Bibas would have thus held that the plaintiff, who had committed a non-violent felony many years prior, should not be denied her Second Amendment rights forever because “[f]elons are more than the wrongs they have done.” [29]

Personal life[edit]

Bibas has made some donations to Republicans.[31] He was a member of the Federalist Society from 1991 to 2017.[32] He has also served as a deacon of the Orthodox Church since 2015.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees
  2. ^ Federal Judicial Center biography of Stephanos Bibas
  3. ^ "Penn Law Prof. Stephanos Bibas to be nominated to U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals". University of Pennsylvania Law School. June 7, 2017. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  4. ^ Adler, Jonathan (June 13, 2017). "Professor Bibas writes letters (and lots of articles, too)". Washington Post. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  5. ^ "Early Entry to College Demands Maturity". The New York Times. March 12, 1989. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 22, 2010. Retrieved January 22, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "United States Senate Judiciary Committee Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees" (PDF). United States Senate Judiciary Committee. 2017.
  8. ^ "CrimProf Blog: CrimProf Blog Professor Spotlight: Stephanos Bibas".
  9. ^ a b See CV, available at
  10. ^ Rohde, David (August 13, 1999). "Expert Guilty in Scheme to Steal Tiffany Glass From Tombs". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  11. ^ Farris, Nick; Aggerbeck, Valerie; McNevin, Megan; Sisk, Gregory C. (August 18, 2016). "Judicial Impact of Law School Faculties". SSRN 2826048. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ "Brian Leiter's Law School Reports". Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  13. ^ Liptak, Adam. "Court Chooses Guardians for Orphaned Arguments". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Kagan, Elena. "TAPIA v. UNITED STATES Transcript". Oyez.
  15. ^ "Eleven Nominations Sent to the Senate Today". – via National Archives.
  16. ^ "Nominations - United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary".
  17. ^ "Results of Executive Business Meeting – October 26, 2017, Senate Judiciary Committee" (PDF).
  18. ^ "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 115th Congress - 1st Session".
  19. ^ Pierson, Brendan (December 11, 2020). "AbbVie wins dismissal of derivative suit over Humira kickback claims". Reuters.
  20. ^ "Two new opinions". January 23, 2019.
  21. ^ "Typography for Judges | Judicature". August 14, 2020.
  22. ^ Bravin, Jess (September 15, 2019). "No Obama or Trump Judges Here, Appointees of Both Declare". Wall Street Journal.
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  31. ^ "Prof. Stephanos Bibas – Nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit". October 2, 2017.
  32. ^ "Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved June 30, 2018.

Selected publications[edit]


External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit