Thomas B. Griffith
Thomas B. Griffith was a federal judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was appointed by President George W. Bush in June 2005 and was confirmed by a vote of 73–24. He served for fifteen years before retiring. On April 9, 2021, US president Joe Biden named Griffith to the new Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. "The White House said Biden’s executive order created the commission to analyze proposals for Supreme Court reform, including whether to increase the court’s size, change how long justices serve and reconsider how justices are selected."
Griffith was born on July 5, 1954, in Yokohama, Japan, where his father was stationed with the US Army. He grew up in Virginia and served as student body president at his high school in McLean, Virginia. For two summers during high school, he worked in the office of Congressman Mo Udall, who was a neighbor.
Griffith was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during his junior year. After high school he served as a full-time missionary in South Africa. In 1978, he earned his bachelor’s degree in humanities from Brigham Young University. He then earned his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. After his first year of law school, he spent three years working for the Church "offering religious education to high school and college students."
Griffith practiced law from 1985 to 1995 and again in 1999, first in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was an associate at Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, and later in Washington, DC, where he was an associate and then a partner at Wiley, Rein & Fielding. His areas of emphasis included commercial and corporate litigation and government investigations. From 1995 to 1999, Griffith was Senate Legal Counsel of the United States, the chief legal officer of the United States Senate. In that capacity, he represented the interests of the Senate in litigation and advised the Senate leadership and its committees on investigations, including the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. From 2000 until his appointment to the US Court of Appeals, Griffith served as assistant to the president and general counsel of BYU. From 1999 to 2000, he was general counsel to the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, a congressional commission created to study the interplay between tax policy and electronic commerce. During 2002–2003, he served as a member of the United States Secretary of Education’s Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, which examined the role of Title IX in intercollegiate athletics.
He serves as special counsel at the law firm of Hunton Andrews Kurth and a fellow at the Wheatley Institute of Brigham Young University.
A Deseret News article featured Griffith and a special honor that took him back to Washington at the end of September 2023:
- The magazine The New Republic once listed Thomas B. Griffith — the now retired federal judge and chief legal officer of the United States Senate — among “Washington’s Most Powerful, Least Famous People.”
- Last week, however, Griffith became a bit more famous.
- A courtroom full of family, former colleagues, and an assortment of Washington, D.C., dignitaries — including five sitting Supreme Court Justices — gathered to honor Griffith’s judicial career and witness his official portrait unveiling in the chambers of his former court, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, known in Washington as the “second highest court in the land.”
Griffith and his wife, Susan, are the parents of six children.