In Memoriam: John Gibbons

John J. Gibbons, ALI life member, Standard-Bearer at Gibbons PC, and former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit died Sunday, December 9,, at the age of 94. Mr. Gibbons was known as a champion of civil liberties, a staunch constitutionalist, and a fierce critic of the death penalty.

His legacy is cemented in more than 800 opinions he authored during his time on the bench, his time teaching constitutional law as a Seton Hall University professor, and in his longtime courtroom advocacy for groups that included Guantanamo Bay detainees, inner-city students, and the LGBTQ population.

In one of his most notable cases, Mr.Gibbons and two other former federal judges represented 660 Guantanamo Bay detainees before the U.S. Supreme Court. In their landmark 2004 decision in Rasul v. Bush, the justices held that foreign nationals could challenge the legality of their detention.

Through his representations, he also pursued marriage equality rights, fought for the transparency of deportation proceedings for 9/11 detainees, and took on racial profiling on the New Jersey Turnpike. In another landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, he advocated for students in Abbott v. Burke, which reformed education financing in poor communities.

In 1990, Mr. Gibbons returned to private practice and founded the John J. Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest and Constitutional Law at Gibbons PC, an initiative that dedicates two full-time attorneys to public interest and constitutional law projects and litigation on a pro bono basis.

Read the New York Times obituary.