A former Jones Day attorney who once fought against New Jersey’s controversial sports betting law has been nominated to fill a seat on the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania.
President Donald Trump on Monday nominated longtime U.S. Department of Justice attorney Peter J. Phipps to fill a vacancy on the federal bench. Phipps joins two others who were recently nominated to the Western District, which currently has six vacancies.
In a joint press statement, U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, each said they were pleased by the nomination.
“Mr. Phipps is an able attorney who has spent the bulk of his career in public service. I am thankful for his willingness to continue that service on the bench,” Casey said in the statement.
Toomey also noted that Phipps has worked at the DOJ’s Civil Division, both in Pittsburgh and Washington, for the past 14 years.
“And since 2011, Mr. Phipps has served as a senior trial counsel for the division,” Toomey said in the statement. “I am confident that Mr. Phipps will serve the Western District with fairness and integrity.”
One of the most high-profile cases Phipps has handled recently involved New Jersey’s controversial sports betting law.
In 2015, Phipps argued before the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit in National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Christie, which centered around the Garden State’s 2014 law repealing certain prohibitions on sports gambling. Arguing on behalf of the DOJ, Phipps advocated for enforcing the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. That act bans states from authorizing sports betting.
The appellate court eventually agreed with Phipps and struck down New Jersey’s law, finding that it violated the PASPA.
According to a press release from the White House, before joining the DOJ Phipps spent three years at Jones Day, which is where White House Counsel Don McGahn worked before taking on his current role. Phipps was also a law clerk to Judge Guy Cole Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and received his law degree from Stanford Law School.
As a nominee, Phipps joins Susan Paradise Baxter and Marilyn Jean Horan as hopefuls looking to fill vacancies on the Western District.
Baxter, a federal magistrate judge since 1995, served as chief magistrate judge for the district from 2005 until 2009. Before her appointment to the bench, she served as solicitor for Erie County and as a partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm.
Horan, a Butler County Court of Common Pleas judge, has served on that court since 1996. Prior to her election to the bench, Horan worked for 17 years as an attorney at Butler law firm Murrin, Taylor, Flach & Horan. Her practice included civil litigation, family and domestic relations, Orphans’ Court practice, business and estate planning, administrative law, and bankruptcy.