William Albert Norris

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William Norris
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
In office
June 18, 1980 – July 7, 1994
Appointed by Jimmy Carter
Preceded by Walter Ely
Succeeded by William Fletcher
Personal details
Born (1927-08-30)August 30, 1927
Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died January 21, 2017(2017-01-21) (aged 89)
Bel-Air, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater Princeton University
Stanford University

William Albert Norris (August 30, 1927 – January 21, 2017) was a United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[1] Norris was nominated for the position by Jimmy Carter on February 27, 1980 after the seat which Walter Raleigh Ely, Jr. had occupied became vacant. After being confirmed by the senate in June, 1980, he received his commission on June 18, 1980. He assumed senior status on July 7, 1994, and then retired, his service terminated on October 24, 1997.

Norris received most of his education during his adolescent years at Princeton University, only moving in 1954 to study at Stanford Law School. Norris had served in the United States Navy between 1945 and 1947, as well as being hired as a private law clerk, among other jobs at different times.[2]

Norris was known for his 1989 concurring opinion in Watkins v. U.S. Army, a case challenging the Army's policy of refusing to allow openly gay members. Judge Norris' view in that case, that sexual orientation is a suspect classification deserving of heightened scrutiny under the Constitution's Equal Protection clause, did not carry the day, but it has proven influential in many state court and lower federal court opinions striking down bans on gay marriage in the 2000s and 2010s.

Norris died on January 21, 2017 at his home in Bel-Air, Los Angeles, California.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Armstrong, A.C.; Vitale, S.A.; Who's Who Historical Society (Calif.). Who's who in California. 13. Who's Who Historical Society. ISSN 0511-8948. Retrieved 2015-08-22. 
  2. ^ William Albert Norris at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  3. ^ "Federal judge who wrote landmark 1988 gay rights decision dies at 89" Portland Press Herald, January 27, 2017

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Walter Ely
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Succeeded by
William Fletcher