Rick Richmond – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

Longtime Federalist Society leader Rick Richmond has been flagged as a potential federal judicial nominee since 2017, but the extensive process of negotiation over California nominees is allowing his nomination to move now.


Rick Lloyd Richmond was born in Grand Junction, Colorado in 1959.  Richmond attended Brigham Young University, getting a B.S. in 1983.[1]  He then received a J.D. with Honors from the George Washington University Law School in 1986.[2]

After law school, Richmond clerked for Judge Harlington Wood on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit before joining the U.S. Department of Justice as an Appellate Attorney with the Civil Division.  After two years there, Richmond joined the D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis, where he became a Partner in 1993.[3]  In 1997, Richmond moved to the Los Angeles office of Kirkland.  In 2009, Richmond moved to the Los Angeles office of Jenner & Block, where he currently works.

History of the Seat

Richmond has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, to a seat vacated on November 4, 2018 by Judge Manuel Real, the last judge appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson still serving in active status.[4] 

Richmond was recruited to be a judicial nominee by the White House and interviewed with them in August 2017.[5]  Richmond then applied and interviewed with selection committees set up by California’s Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.[6]  On August 28, 2019, Richmond was nominated by the White House.

Legal Experience

Richmond has practiced commercial litigation for over thirty years, with experience in contract cases, intellectual property, and class actions.  Over the course of his career, Richmond has tried 31 cases and has argued approximately 20 appeals.[7]  Notably, Richmond has briefed several cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, including Morse v. Frederick, in which Richmond represented a school district seeking to prohibit students from displaying pro-marijuana messages.[8]  The court sided with Richmond’s client on a 5-4 basis.[9]

Among other cases, Richmond represented the credit card company Discover in successfully enforcing arbitration agreements that prevented consumers from pursuing class actions to recovering interest and penalties.[10]  He also represented Louisiana citizens in challenging a black-majority Louisiana congressional district as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.[11]

Political Activity

In addition to being a longtime member of the Federalist Society, Richmond has frequently donated to support Republican presidential and congressional candidates.  Richmond has been particularly generous in donating to Sen. Mitt Romney’s campaign for the Presidency, giving $5000 directly to the campaign and an additional $500 to Romney’s SuperPAC in 2012.[12]

Overall Assessment

Given his generally conservative record, Richmond’s greatest obstacle to confirmation is the return of blue slips from California’s Democratic senators.  However, given that Richmond was nominated as a part of a package of nominees which includes others chosen by the Senators, it is likely that he will be confirmed, albeit with some negative votes.

[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., Rick Richmond: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2] See id.

[3] See id. at 2.

[4] Judge Real passed away in 2019.

[5] See id. at 37.

[6] Id.

[7] Id. at 24.

[8] Morse v. Frederick, 551 U.S. 393 (2007).

[9] Id.

[10] W.A. Lee, Discover’s Legal Win May Be Industry’s, The American Banker, Jan. 21, 2003.

[11] Hays v. Louisiana, Nos. CV92-1522S & CV95-1241 (W.D. La. 1995).

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