Virginia A. Phillips

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Virginia A. Phillips
Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California
Assumed office
November 15, 1999
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by William M. Byrne, Jr.
Magistrate Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California
In office
Personal details
Born (1957-02-14) February 14, 1957 (age 58)
Orange, California, U.S.
Spouse(s) John A. Phillips (1980–1998) (his death)
Alma mater University of California, Riverside
UC Berkeley School of Law

Virginia A. Phillips (born February 14, 1957) is a judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Early life and education[edit]

Born (as Virginia Ettinger)[1] and raised in Orange, California,[2] Phillips received a B.A. from the University of California, Riverside, in 1979 and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law in 1982. She was in private practice in Riverside, California, from 1982 to 1991. She was a Commissioner for the Riverside County Superior Court from 1991 to 1995.

Judicial service[edit]

In 1995, Phillips became a United States magistrate judge for the Central District of California. On January 26, 1999, Phillips was nominated by President Bill Clinton to be a district judge for the Central District, a seat vacated by William M. Byrne, Jr. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on November 10, 1999, and received her commission on November 15, 1999.

Notable cases[edit]

On September 9, 2010, Phillips ruled that the U.S. Department of Defense's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is unconstitutional in the case Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America.[3] On October 12, Phillips issued a permanent worldwide injunction ordering the military to immediately "suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced" under "don't ask, don't tell".[4][5] The Ninth Circuit stayed the injunction pending appeal[6] but on July 6, 2011, lifted the stay.[7] On September 29, 2011, the Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's decision, ruling that the legislative repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" had rendered the case moot.[8][9]


  1. ^ "Judge in "Don’t ask" case: activist or model jurist?". Sign On San Diego. 2010-10-15. Retrieved 2010-11-03. 
  2. ^ Mark Thompson (2010-10-19). "The Widow Judge Who Ended "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"". Time. Retrieved 2010-11-03. 
  3. ^ Schwartz, John (September 9, 2010). "Judge Rules That Military Policy Violates Rights of Gays". The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2010. 
  4. ^ Adam Levine (October 12, 2010). "Judge orders military to stop enforcing 'don't ask, don't tell'". CNN. Retrieved October 12, 2010. 
  5. ^ Pettersson, Edvard (October 12, 2010). "U.S. Military Barred by Judge From Enforcing `Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Rule". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved October 12, 2010. 
  6. ^ Ninth Circuit Order
  7. ^ "DADT Repeal: Court Orders Immediate Halt To Gay Military Ban". Huffington Post. July 6, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2011. 
  8. ^ Levine, Dan (September 29, 2011). "U.S. court vacates ruling on gays in military". Reuters. Retrieved October 24, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Ninth Circuit opinion" (PDF). September 29, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
William M. Byrne, Jr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California