Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Who is Ryan Nelson?

Ryan Nelson is President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from Idaho.

Current Position:  General Counsel, Melaleuca (Idaho Falls, ID)


  • B.A., Brigham Young University
  • J.D., J. Reuben Clark Law School (Brigham Young University), with honors; Order of the Coif; Lead Articles Editor, BYU Law Review

Judicial Clerkships: Judge Karen Henderson, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit


  • 2009-Present: General Counsel, Melaleuca, Inc. (Idaho Falls, ID)
  • 2009: Special Counsel to the Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary (Washington, D.C.)
  • Deputy General Counsel, White House Office of Management and Budget (Washington, D.C.)
  • Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Environmental and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Department of Justice (Washington, D.C.)
  • Associate, Sidley Austin LLP (Washington, D.C.)
  • Law Clerk to the Senate Legal Counsel, U.S. Senate (Washington, D.C.)
  • Legal Advisor, Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal (The Hague, Netherlands)

Notable Matters:

  • Mr. Nelson currently serves as General Counsel to Melaleuca, Inc., a $1.75 billion company based in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
  • As Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division at the DOJ during the administration of President George W. Bush, Mr. Nelson oversaw over 500 of the Division’s appeals, and personally argued 13 appeals before nine different federal appellate courts.The appeals he supervised and argued involved issues of Indian law, constitutional law, administrative law, and environmental law.
  • In his capacity as Deputy General Counsel at OMB, Mr. Nelson coordinated agency regulations and Executive Orders for final approval.
  • In 1998, the Senate Legal Counsel hired Mr. Nelson to assist with preparing for the impeachment trial of President William J. Clinton.
  • In 2009, Mr. Nelson served as a Special Counsel to the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to assist with the vetting of Justice Sotamayor’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Biographical Notes:  Mr. Nelson is a native of Idaho Falls, Idaho.  He is a sixth-generation Idahoan and descends from ancestors who lived in Idaho before it was admitted to the Union.  Mr. Nelson is married and has seven children.




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

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