Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Who is Cory Wilson?

(Phil Bryant/Screengrab via Facebook)

Judge Cory Wilson is President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Wilson is currently a judge on the Mississippi Court of Appeals.  Before today’s announcement, Wilson was a pending nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

49 years old, Wilson is a native of Pascagoula, Mississippi.  He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Mississippi in 1992.  At Ole Miss, Wilson received the Taylor Medal in Economics, awarded to the student achieving the highest GPA.  Following his graduation from Ole Miss, Wilson attended Yale Law School, where he was an editor for the Yale Law Journal, an Olin Fellow in Economics, and a member of the Yale Law School chapter of the Federalist Society.

Immediately after his law school graduation in 1995, Wilson clerked for the Honorable Emmett R. Cox of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  He then went into private practice in Jackson, Mississippi—first with the firm of Watkins, Ludlam, Winter & Stennis and then with Bradley, Arant, Rose & White. Wilson was promoted to partner at Bradley Arant in 2003.  From 2005-2006, Wilson served as a White House Fellow with the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C.  He returned home to Jackson in 2006.

In 2008, Wilson joined the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office as Deputy Secretary of State and Chief of Staff.  Following three years of service, Wilson formed a solo law practice in Madison, Mississippi.  In 2013, he joined the faculty of the University of Mississippi School of Law as an adjunct professor, teaching pretrial practice.

In 2014, Wilson returned to state service for one year and worked as a senior advisor and counsel in the Office of the Mississippi State Treasurer.  He subsequently joined the Jackson office of the Mississippi law firm of Heidelberg Steinberger Colmer & Borrow.

In 2016, Wilson was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives, representing Mississippi’s 73rd district. During his tenure at the Statehouse, Wilson was of counsel at the law firm of Jernigan Copeland until his appointment to the Mississippi Court of Appeals in December 2018.

On August 28, 2019, President Trump nominated Wilson to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.  At his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this year, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) criticized Wilson for his membership in the Federalist Society.

In response to Blumenthal’s attack on Wilson, Senator Mike Lee said of Wilson’s Federalist Society membership:

This is, in no way, shape or form, something that should be the subject of legitimate inquiry, especially when one understands that the Federalist Society is there to provide an open forum for debate, discussions and conversations about the Constitution, the law, federalism, the separation of power—things that I believe all of us as lawyers have taken an oath to uphold and protect and defend.

In addition to the Federalist Society, Wilson has held leadership positions in the Mississippi chapter of the Federal Bar Association, including serving as president from 2002-2003.  In 2003 and 2004, Wilson was awarded the Mississippi FBA Chapter’s Presidential Achievement Award.

Judge Wilson is an active member of his local church.  He is married and has one son.


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