Press Release

Phipps Should Not Be Confirmed to Third Circuit

May 6, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 31, 2019 – Alliance for Justice today released a report on the record of Peter Phipps, President Trump’s nominee for a seat on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. AFJ President Nan Aron released the following statement:

“Peter Phipps’s nomination is being pushed over the objections of a home-state senator, Bob Casey, who rightly points out that elevating Phipps to the appellate level is premature since Phipps was appointed to a district court seat only seven months ago.  Phipps is also among Trump judicial nominees who have failed to say in confirmation hearings whether the landmark civil rights decision Brown v. Board of Education was rightly decided. We agree with Sen. Casey that this nomination should not go forward.”

Among other things, the AFJ report finds that:

  • As was the case with the nominations of Paul Matey and David Porter to the Third Circuit, there was no meaningful consultation on Phipps’s nomination with one of his home-state senators.
  • Phipps’s home-state senator, Sen. Bob Casey, objects to Phipps’s nomination and notes that Phipps was appointed to be a federal judge in the Western District of Pennsylvania just last October. Casey has stated that he believes Phipps’s short tenure on the district court is not “sufficient experience or preparation” for an appellate court seat.
  • During his initial confirmation hearing for the district court, Phipps joined many of Trump’s nominees in his refusal to answer whether he believed Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided.
  • Phipps is President Trump’s fourth white, male nominee to the Third Circuit. An Obama nominee, Rebecca Ross Haywood, would have been the first African-American woman judge in the circuit, but she was blocked when Sen. Pat Toomey did not return his blue slip on her nomination.
  • As an attorney for the Department of Justice, Phipps worked on cases with serious repercussions for LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights and racial equity. In the case of an individual’s discharge from the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rules, which banned openly lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members, Phipps defended the discharge, grilled the service member about her moral standards, and invoked arguments suggesting LGBTQ service members harm unit cohesion.

Read the full report here.