William Lockhart Garwood


William Lockhart Garwood

Will Garwood (born 1931 in Houston, Texas) is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

William Lockhart Garwood was born on October 29, 1931, in Houston, Texas to Wilmer St. John Garwood and Ellen Burdine Clayton. He was named after his maternal grandfather, William Lockhart Clayton, a Houston cotton merchant and, as undersecretary of state for economic affairs, a principal architect of the Marshall Plan.

Garwood graduated from Princeton University in 1952 and from The University of Texas School of Law in 1955. Upon graduating first in his law school class, he clerked on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for John R. Brown, a judge whom he would later count as a colleague on that same court. He served for three years as a JAG officer and then returned to Austin, Texas, where he entered private practice with the firm of Graves, Dougherty, Hearon, Moody & Garwood.

In 1979, he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Texas by Governor Bill Clements and became the first Republican to serve on that court since the end of Reconstruction. Notably, his father, W. St. John Garwood, had served for a decade on the Texas high court, from January 14, 1948 to December 31, 1958, and is still regarded as one of Texas's finest jurists. Will Garwood's tenure was shorter-lived however. As he is fond of joking, "I was returned to private practice one-year later by popular mandate."

On September 17, 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Garwood to the Court of Appeals, and he was confirmed by the Senate on October 21, 1981. He assumed Senior Status on January 23, 1997, but still maintains a nearly-full workload on the court.

Notable opinions

In "United States v. Lopez", 2 F.3d 1342 (5th Cir. 1993), Judge Garwood, writing for a unanimous panel, invalidated the Gun-Free School Zone Act as an unconstitutional exercise of the Commerce Clause power. When "Lopez" was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court, it became the first Court decision in nearly six decades to place limits on Congressional power under the Commerce Clause and was one of the first shots fired in the Rehnquist Court's Federalist Revival.

In "United States v. Emerson", 270 F.3d 203 (5th Cir. 2001), Judge Garwood wrote the first federal appellate decision embracing the individual-right view of the Second Amendment. To opponents of this view, the "Emerson" decision is an abomination. To supporters, it is celebrated as heroic, nothing less than a "Masses Publishing Co. v. Patten" for the Second Amendment.


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