Living Legends 2023: THE HON. ROGER L. GREGORY
JUDGE, 4TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS, RICHMOND
The son of tobacco factory workers, Gregory has spent his life blazing trails. He’s the first person in his family to graduate from high school. After graduating from Virginia State University and the University of Michigan Law School, he and future Gov. L. Douglas Wilder founded a Richmond law firm in 1982. Wilder became the nation’s first elected Black governor, and Gregory became the first Black judge appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 2000, then renominated by President George W. Bush — making him the first federal appellate court judge nominated by presidents of different parties. And in 2016, Gregory became the 125-year-old court’s first Black chief judge, serving until this July.
“That a little kid from segregated Petersburg could be in the Fourth Circuit Court, it’s humbling,” he told the Richmond Free Press.
Among his notable opinions, Gregory joined the court’s majority in 2014, declaring Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. He wrote the court’s majority opinion blocking President Donald Trump’s 2017 travel ban.
Gregory also has honorary degrees from Virginia Union University, Virginia State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Widener University and Saint Paul’s College.