Julius Richardson - Alliance for Justice

Julius Richardson

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

  • Court Circuit Court

On May 7, 2018, President Trump nominated Julius “Jay” Ness Richardson to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals seat previously held by Judge Dennis W. Shedd. Richardson is a former clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He is currently 41 years old.

The Senate, consistent with its constitutional responsibilities, should carefully examine Richardson’s record before confirming him to a lifetime seat on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.


On May 7, 2018, President Trump
Julius “Jay” Ness Richardson to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals seat
previously held by Judge Dennis W. Shedd. Richardson is a former clerk to U.S.
Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He is currently 41 years old.

The Senate, consistent with its constitutional
responsibilities, should carefully examine Richardson’s record before
confirming him to a lifetime seat on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.


Since 2009, Richardson has served
as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of South Carolina.1 After clerking for Judge Richard Posner on the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and Chief Justice William Rehnquist on
the U.S. Supreme Court, Richardson worked as an associate at Kellogg Hansen
Todd Figel & Frederick PLLC. He received his

J.D. in 2003 from the University of Chicago Law School and
his B.S. from Vanderbilt University in 1999.

Like many of the Trump Administration’s judicial nominees,
Richardson is a member of The Federalist Society, an outside group to which
Trump has delegated
important aspects of the judicial nomination process. Richardson joined
last year.

Richardson is currently a member of two private clubs with a
history of discrimination,
the Forest Lake Club and the Palmetto Club.

U.S. Attorney’s

During Richardson’s tenure at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for
the District of South Carolina, he has worked
on narcotics, violent crime, white collar crime, national security, public
corruption, and civil rights cases.

His cases included prosecuting MS-13 members in a 2011
murder-for-hire case
and members of the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club in a 2013 Racketeering
Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) case.
Richardson also worked on a 2016 case
in which a farm employing undocumented immigrants was required to pay a $1
million fine and undergo four years of intensive supervision.

In 2015, Richardson helped prosecute
a South Carolina sheriff who took bribes from friends in order to release
their undocumented employees from the county jail. Richardson stated publicly,
“Instead of respecting the law, they were willing to do favors for people who
are connected, but not those who are not connected. We certainly don’t think
that’s a system that promotes respect for the law.”

Following the tragic June 2015 shooting
at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Richardson was part of
the team of prosecutors and investigators who brought federal hate crime charges.

During a September 2010 public appearance in his personal capacity, Richardson
participated in a
conversation about charging decisions, prosecutorial discretion, and mandatory
minimums. Richardson spoke to concerns about law enforcement and the use of

Judicial Philosophy

In a 2017 commencement address, Richardson described
Chief Justice Rehnquist as “a hero of mine.”
 During the process that led to the
confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court, Richardson
signed a letter
supporting Alito’s nomination that stated:

Judge Alito has a well-deserved reputation as an
outstanding jurist. He is, in every sense of the term, a “judge’s judge.” His
opinions are fair, thoughtful and rigorous. Those of us who have appeared
before Judge Alito appreciate his preparation for argument, his temperament on
the bench and the quality and incisiveness of the questions he asks. Those of
us who have worked with Judge Alito respect his legal skills, his integrity and
his modesty. In short, Judge Alito has the attributes that we believe are
essential to being an outstanding Supreme Court justice and therefore should be

In 2006, Richardson signed a letter
in support of a highly
nominee to the Fifth Circuit, Michael Wallace. Wallace had previously argued
for getting rid of the Legal Services Corporation and was fiercely opposed
by civil rights groups and African-American lawyers in Mississippi. Wallace
earned the extremely
rare distinction of being rated “not
by the American Bar Association based on his temperament. While
Richardson supported Wallace’s nomination, the nomination was ultimately withdrawn.

In a September 2010 appearance where
Richardson was speaking in his personal capacity, he described his views on the
Supreme Court and constitutional analysis as follows:

One of the great inventions, really of the last 20 years
at the Supreme Court has been that when they talk about the Constitution,
unlike what they did before then, they now actually look at what the
Constitution itself says.

Later on in that speech, Richardson
provides insight into his views on the standards of review that courts use to assess
whether government actions pass constitutional muster. While he made his
remarks through the lens of a firearms case in the Seventh Circuit, his
comments raise questions about his thinking on important legal standards:

And again, analogizing back to the First Amendment just
like Justice Scalia had done, he looked at— there’s really three choices in the
First Amendment context—there’s rational basis, there’s strict scrutiny, and
then there’s intermediate scrutiny. I don’t think anybody really knows what
those mean. I mean, I don’t think the Supreme Court does, and I certainly
don’t. And I imagine most of us sort of don’t have a full understanding of what
the difference [sic] between them are. . . So then the court is left with the question,
Judge Easterbrook is left with the question, is it intermediate scrutiny or
strict scrutiny? Again, I’ll sort of sidetrack here to talk a little bit about
those. In the end, I don’t think it matters one bit. I think the analysis is
the same, and I don’t think it impacts any regulation. I think the court is going
to get where it wants to get whether it’s strict scrutiny or intermediate scrutiny.
(emphases added)

In law school, Richardson won an award for a paper
on the Confederate
Constitution. His paper does not appear to be publicly available.

Selection Process

In a 2005 press interview,
Richardson “said he has no plans to put on the robe.” Following the
election of Donald Trump, and before any announced vacancies in the Fourth
Circuit, Richardson notes in his Senate Judiciary Committee Questionnaire,
that his selection process began as follows: “In informal discussions with
friends in the Spring of 2017, I indicated that I would be interested in being
considered should a vacancy occur on the Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit.” Richardson interviewed with the Trump Administration in June 2017, and
it was later announced
that Judge Shedd, to whose seat Richardson is nominated, would take
senior status on January 30, 2018.

When discussing
a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun safety in his September 2010
appearance, Richardson stated, “The Senate is holding a hearing, and they hold all
these hearings and I’m not sure they mean a whole lot, but they’re holding a
hearing addressing what we need to be doing about firearm regulation going

Gun Safety

In September 2010, Richardson lectured
and participated in a
panel discussion during a “Gun Rights and Laws CLE” on the “Second Amendment
After Heller and McDonald.” Richardson made clear that he was speaking in his personal capacity – and
not on behalf of the