Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Who Is Peter Phipps?

The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., June 11, 2018 (Erin Schaff/Reuters)

Peter Phipps is President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from Pennsylvania.

Age:  46

Current Position:  U.S. District Judge, Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)


  • B.S. and B.A., University of Dayton, summa cum laude(1995); full tuition scholarship
  • J.D., Stanford Law School (1998); Managing Editor, Stanford Law & Policy Review

Judicial Clerkship: Hon. R. Guy Cole, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2001-2002)

Professional Experience:

  • 2018-Present: U.S. District Judge, Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 2003-2018: Senior Trial Counsel, Senior Counsel and Trial Attorney, Civil Division (Federal Programs Branch), U.S. Department of Justice (Washington, D.C.)
  • 1998-2001: Associate Attorney, Jones Day LLP (Columbus, OH)

Career Notes:

  • President Donald J. Trump nominated Phipps to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in 2018 and he was confirmed by a voice vote on October 11, 2018.
  • As a federal prosecutor in the Civil Division for 15 years, Phipps defended the constitutionality and administration of federal statutes, regulations, and programs against challenges brought in federal court.  He also drafted briefs in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • One of Phipps’s most significant litigation matters in this capacity includes defending the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development against a claim of racial discrimination in a major class action Thompson v. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (District of Maryland).
  • While in private practice at Jones Day, Phipps specialized in corporate civil litigation in both federal and state court.
  • Phipps has served as an adjunct professor at Duquesne University School of Law since 2014.

Honors and Awards:

  • Phipps is a recipient of the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award (2005). He also received a Special Commendation from the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in 2006, 2010, and 2012.

Carrie Severino is chief counsel and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network.

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