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10th Circuit Welcomes New Chief Judge, Timothy Tymkovich

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on October 12, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Timothy Tymkovich became the new Chief Judge of the Tenth Circuit last week, replacing Judge Mary Beck Briscoe, whose five year term as chief ended in September. As a judge and former Colorado solicitor general, Tymkovich has been involved in a number of notable cases, dealing with everything from gay rights to gun rights, freedom of speech to freedom of religion.

But his first week as chief hasn't brought any headline making decisions just yet. Rather, the new Chief Judge's docket has been full of child porn and bicycle accidents, according to The Colorado Statesman.

A Judge at the Forefront of Notable Cases

Tymkovich has helped shape the law throughout his career, first in private practice and as a government attorney, and later from the bench. As solicitor general for Colorado, he often defended state law before the Supreme Court. In 1995, he defended a Colorado proposition which banned laws protecting gays and lesbians. He lost that case, Romer v. Evans, but his loss helped set an important gay rights precedent and established Justice Kennedy as one of the Court's clearest voices for gay and lesbian equality.

As a judge for the Tenth Circuit, he was involved in deciding many important cases. In 2012, Tymkovich authored the opinion in U.S. v. Strandlof, which held that the First Amendment didn't protect knowingly false statements. Just a few months later, the Supreme Court decided the opposite. Tymkovich also wrote the majority in Tenth Circuit's Hobby Lobby case. That time, he was more in line with SCOTUS, who upheld the ruling and found that business regulations, such as Obamacare's contraception mandate, could burden the religious practice of the owners of closely held corporations.

Practicing in His Home

Tymkovich's time on the federal bench has kept him close to home. The chief judge is a third generation Coloradan who hasn't strayed far from the Rocky Mountains. He graduated from Colorado College, studied law at the University of Colorado, where he currently adjuncts, and clerked for the Colorado Supreme Court.

In a statement released by the Tenth Circuit, Chief Judge Tymkovich said, "I look forward to continuing the strong tradition of collegiality established by our prior Chiefs, especially Chief Judge Mary Beck Briscoe ... Our Circuit is now as strong as it has ever been. I hope to continue that leadership and example."

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