Ryan D. Nelson
Ryan D. Nelson is a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Nelson was born on June 23, 1973, in Idaho Falls, Idaho. His father, Douglas Nelson, is a senior partner in the Idaho Falls firm Nelson, Hall, Parry & Tucker. Judge Nelson earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Brigham Young University and his Juris Doctor with honors from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU. He was lead articles editor of the BYU Law School Review and was inducted into the Order of the Coif.
While in law school, he clerked for then-Senate Legal Counsel Thomas B. Griffith and assisted with preparation for the impeachment trial of U.S. President Bill Clinton. He also clerked for Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and then for Richard M. Mosk and Charles N. Brower of the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.
Nelson worked as an associate at the law firm Sidley Austin. He argued 13 federal court of appeals cases on environmental and constitutional issues. He previously served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and as Deputy General Counsel for the Office of Management and Budget. He also served as special counsel for the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary and as a law clerk for the Senate Legal Counsel.
From 2009 to 2018, Nelson was General Counsel of Melaleuca, Inc.
In July 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump nominated Nelson as a solicitor for the Department of the Interior. That nomination was pending when he was nominated for an opening as a Circuit Judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In May 2018, President Trump withdrew his nomination and announced his intent to instead nominate Nelson to serve as United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He was confirmed five months later and received his commission on October 18, 2018.
Nelson is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his wife, Barbara, are the parents of seven children.
Nelson has been a member of the Federalist Society since 1997. He has served as a council member and co-chair of the General Counsel Committee for the American Bar Association Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice since 2012. Nelson has been a member of the Idaho Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and the Eagle Rock Inns of Court since 2010. He was a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association from 2005 until 2018.