President Donald Trump (R) has announced 190 Article III judicial nominations since taking office on January 20, 2017. Two of those individuals, Peter Phipps and A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr., were nominated twice to different courts.
On February 15, 2018, Trump first nominated Phipps to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The U.S. Senate confirmed Phipps to the District Court on October 11, 2018, by voice vote. On May 13, 2019, the president then nominated Phipps to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.
Phipps was nominated to the Western District of Pennsylvania on recommendation from Pennsylvania Senators Pat Toomey (R) and Bob Casey Jr. (D). Toomey also supported Phipps’ 3rd Circuit nomination, saying, “Judge Phipps will make an outstanding addition to the Third Circuit. He has the experience, intellect and integrity to be a superb circuit court judge.” Casey, however, expressed opposition to the second nomination and questioned whether “six months on that bench is sufficient experience or preparation” for a Circuit Court elevation. Casey also said, “Circuit court judges are often asked to decide questions of law that can have an enormous impact on Americans’ lives, and I have significant concerns about Judge Phipps’ judicial and constitutional philosophy.”
The United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit is one of 13 U.S. courts of appeal. They are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system. The court has 14 authorized judgeships and one current vacancy. Republican presidents appointed seven of the current judges. Democratic presidents appointed the remaining six judges. The 3rd Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Phipps was born in Abilene, Texas, in 1973. He received a B.S. in physics and a B.A. in history from the University of Dayton in 1995. He obtained a J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1998. During his legal studies, Phipps served as a managing editor of the Stanford Law Review from 1997 to 1998. He worked in private practice from 1998 to 2001 and then became a law clerk to Judge Guy Cole of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals from 2001 to 2002. From 2003 to 2018, Phipps was an attorney with the Federal Programs Branch of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division.
The president has also nominated A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. twice. Quattlebaum Jr. was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina in 2017 and confirmed in March 2018. In May 2018, the president nominated Quattlebaum to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination on August 16, 2018.