Timothy Tymkovich

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Timothy Tymkovich
Timothy M. Tymkovich.jpg
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Assumed office
October 1, 2015
Preceded by Mary Beck Briscoe
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Assumed office
April 1, 2003
Appointed by George W. Bush
Preceded by John Carbone Porfilio
Solicitor General of Colorado
In office
Attorney General Gale Norton
Personal details
Born Timothy Michael Tymkovich
(1956-11-02) November 2, 1956 (age 61)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Education Colorado College (BA)
University of Colorado Law School (JD)

Timothy Michael Tymkovich (born November 2, 1956) is the Chief United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.


Born in Denver, Colorado, Tymkovich is a third-generation Coloradan; his great-grandfather emigrated from Ukraine to the United States via Ellis Island and worked as a miner. Tymkovich received a Bachelor of Arts degree at Colorado College in 1979 and his Juris Doctor at the University of Colorado Law School 1982. He then clerked for Justice William Erickson, Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, from 1982 to 1983.

From 1983 to 1991, Tymkovich worked in private practice in Denver and Washington, D.C. In 1991, Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton appointed him Solicitor General of the State of Colorado. Tymkovich served in that position until 1996, arguing several cases in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. Most notably, in Romer v. Evans (1996), he unsuccessfully argued that Colorado's Amendment 2 (which revoked local legal protections for members of the LGBT community) was not unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. He then returned to private practice in Denver.

Tenth Circuit nomination and confirmation[edit]

President George W. Bush initially nominated Tymkovich to the seat on the Tenth Circuit on May 25, 2001, and was renominated January 7, 2003. President Bill Clinton previously had nominated Christine Arguello for the seat, but she never received a hearing or a vote from the United States Senate. Tymkovich was confirmed by the United States Senate in a 58-41 vote after waiting for almost two years on April 1, 2003, and he received his commission the same day.[1] Tymkovich replaced Judge John Carbone Porfilio, who took senior status. He became Chief Judge on October 1, 2015.[2] In September 2016, Tymkovich and his circuit colleague Neil Gorsuch were named as possible U.S. Supreme Court nominees by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.[3]

Notable cases[edit]

United States v. McCane, 573 F.3d 1037 (10th Cir. 2009): Markice McCane was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). On appeal, he contended that the felon-in-possession statute was unconstitutional in light of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008). But the Tenth Circuit affirmed the conviction after noting the statement in Heller that "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons."[4] In a concurring opinion, Judge Tymkovich expressed concern that the statement "short-circuits at least some of the analysis and refinement that would otherwise take place in the lower courts," particularly since the statement was based on a possibly questionable premise—that the felon-in-possession prohibition was longstanding.

Guttman v. Khalsa, 669 F.3d 1101 (10th Cir. 2012): Dr. Stuart Guttman brought suit under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 after the New Mexico Board of Medical Examiners revoked his medical license. In an opinion written by Judge Tymkovich, the Tenth Circuit held that the Eleventh Amendment protected States from lawsuits based on professional licensing decisions.

United States v. Strandlof, 667 F.3d 1146 (10th Cir. 2012): Rick Glen Strandlof was convicted of violating the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, 18 U.S.C. § 704(b), which makes it illegal to falsely claim to have received a military award or honor. In an opinion written by Judge Tymkovich, the Tenth Circuit held that the First Amendment does not protect knowingly false statements of fact. In United States v. Alvarez (2012), a plurality of the Supreme Court held that the Act was unconstitutional, although a majority of justices held that lies about easily verifiable facts (e.g., receiving military honors) are outside the core of First Amendment protection.[5]

Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius, 723 F.3d 1114 (10th Cir. 2013): The court found for-profit corporations Hobby Lobby and Mardel Christian Bookstores could assert religious freedom as "persons" under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.[6] Judge Tymkovich wrote for the five-judge en banc majority, over a three-judge dissent.[7] The decision was upheld by a five-justice majority of the U.S. Supreme Court in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (2014).

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
John Carbone Porfilio
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Preceded by
Mary Beck Briscoe
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit