Role of the Federal Judiciary Under the Constitution: Some Perspectives from a Ninth Circuit Judge

The Annual Herbert W. Vaughan Lecture on America’s Founding Principles

October 22, 2009
O'Scannlain Flyer

Diarmuid F. O’ScannlainJudge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Endowed by the late Herbert "Wiley" Vaughan, founding member of the Madison Program's Advisory Council, the Herbert W. Vaughan Lecture on America’s Founding Principles is an endowed Princeton University lecture that is hosted by the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions in the Department of Politics.  Its purpose is to promote and advance understanding of the founding principles and core doctrines of American constitutionalism. 

Diarmuid O’Scannlain was appointed United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit by President Reagan on September 26, 1986. As a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Judge O’Scannlain has participated in over 6,000 federal cases and has written hundreds of published opinions on a broad range of subjects, including constitutional law, securities law, administrative law, and criminal law. He has testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on several occasions, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property, and the Commission on Structural Alternatives for the Federal Courts of Appeals on the subject of court reorganization.

The late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist appointed Judge O'Scannlain to the Federal Judicial Center's Advisory Committee on Appellate Judge Education and Chief Justice John Roberts subsequently appointed him Chair. President George W. Bush appointed Judge O’Scannlain to the Board of Trustees of the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation in 2004. Pope Benedict XVI conferred the Order of Saint Gregory the Great on Judge and Mrs. O’Scannlain in 2007.

In addition to serving as a faculty member at numerous federal appellate practice seminars for judges and attorneys, Judge O’Scannlain is an Adjunct Professor at the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College where he teaches seminars on the Supreme Court and Appellate Practice.  Judge O’Scannlain is former Chair of the Judicial

Division of the American Bar Association and has previously chaired the ABA’s Appellate Judges Conference, its Committee on Appellate Practice, and its 9th Appellate Practice Institute.

Between graduation from Harvard and investiture as a federal judge, Judge O’Scannlain was engaged in private law practice. Between 1969 and 1974, he was consecutively the Deputy Attorney General of Oregon, the Public Utility Commissioner of Oregon, and Director of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. He retired from the U.S. Army Reserve in 1978 as a Major after 23 years of Reserve and National Guard service, including four years as an enlisted man.

He holds a B.A. from St. John’s University , a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law.


The Role of the Federal Judiciary


Lewis Library 120