James Dennis

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James Dennis
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Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Title:   Judge
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   10/02/1985-Present
Preceded by:   Charles Clark
Personal History
Born:   1936
Home state:   Louisiana
Undergraduate:   Louisiana Tech University, 1959
Law School:   Louisiana State University Law School, 1962
Grad. School:   University of Virginia School of Law, 1984
Military service:   U.S. Army, 1955-1957

James L. Dennis is a federal judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He was nominated to the court by President Bill Clinton on January 31, 2014. He was confirmed by the Senate on September 28, 1995.[1]

Early life and education

Born in Monroe, Louisiana, Dennis earned his B.A. from Louisiana Tech University in 1959 and his J.D. from Louisiana State University's Paul M. Hebert Law Center in 1962. Dennis also holds a Master's of Law (LL.M.) from the University of Virginia Law School, which he earned in 1984.[1]

Military service

Dennis served in the United States Army from 1955 to 1957.[1]

Professional career

Judicial career

Fifth Circuit

On the recommendation of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, Dennis was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by President Bill Clinton on January 31, 1995, to a seat vacated by Charles Clark. Dennis was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 28, 1995, on a majority vote and received commission on October 2, 1995.[2]

Notable cases

Corporate speech through campaign finance upheld by Fifth Circuit (2013)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Texans for Free Enterprise v. Texas Ethics Commission, et al, 13-50014)

On October 16, 2013, Judge Jerry Smith, writing on behalf of a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit which included Judges James Dennis and Stephen Higginson, affirmed a ruling made by the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas as to corporations' ability to fund political speech. In the underlying case, Texans for Free Enterprise (TFE), a political action committee that uses its donated funds to support or oppose political candidates, filed suit against the Texas Ethics Commission because portions of the Texas Election Code prohibited the PAC from receiving money from corporations. TFE sought an enforcement injunction, and the federal trial court granted a preliminary one in the political action group's favor. The Ethics Commission appealed the suit to the Fifth Circuit, where the lower court's ruling was affirmed. Judge Smith ruled that in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, the parts of the Texas Election Code that banned corporate funding of political speech were an unconstitutional abridgement of free speech. Judge Smith concluded his decision by succinctly noting that while "TFE’s ability to speak is undoubtedly limited when it cannot raise money to pay for speech," injunctions of this kind, those which seek to protect the First Amendment, "are always in the public interest."[3]

First Amendment rights in Texas public meeting (2009)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Avinash Rangra; Anna Monclova, v. Frank D. Brown, District Attorney, No. 06-51587)

Dennis wrote the opinion in the case Rangra v. Brown, concerning the application of First Amendment rights within the context of the Texas Open Meetings law. The case was appealed from the Western District of Texas, where it was ruled that "the First Amendment affords absolutely no protection to speech by elected officials made pursuant to their official duties." Dennis, along with Judges Jacques Wiener, Jr. and Rhesa Barksdale, disagreed and sent the case back to the trial court for review. They suggested that the "trial court had not properly considered whether the statute was constitutional."[4][5]

See also

External links


Political offices
Preceded by:
Charles Clark
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
Succeeded by: