About the Interview
Judge Wilkinson was interviewed on December 5, 2019, by Leslie Kendrick, Vice Dean and David H. Ibbeken '71 Research Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law, in his chambers at the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Charlottesville, Virginia.
J. Harvie Wilkinson III was appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit by President Reagan on August 13, 1984, and he was the Fourth Circuit’s chief judge from 1996-2003.
Judge Wilkinson graduated from Yale University in 1967 and received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1972. He began his law career as a clerk for US Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Wilkinson was a professor at the University of Virginia Law School from 1973-78, 1981-82, and 1983-84. In 1978, he became editor of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. In 1982, he became deputy assistant attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
From 1992-96, Wilkinson served on the Board of the Federal Judicial Center, and in 2003, he was appointed to the Board of the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation. He served on the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia from 1970 to 1973. In 2004, he was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Medal by the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. This award is the highest outside award offered by the university, which grants no honorary degrees. In 2008, he was awarded the Lawrenceville Medal, the highest award given by the Lawrenceville School. In 2009, he was selected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
He is also the author of several books: Harry Byrd and the Changing Face of Virginia Politics, 1968; Serving Justice: A Supreme Court Clerk’s View, 1974; From Brown to Bakke: The Supreme Court and School Integration, 1979; One Nation Indivisible: How Ethnic Separatism Threatens America, 1997; Cosmic Constitutional Theory: Why Americans Are Losing Their Inalienable Right to Self-Governance, 2012. His memoir, All Failing Faiths: Reflections on the Promise and Failure of the 1960s, was published in 2017.
Judge Wilkinson lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. He and his wife, Lossie, have two children, Nelson and Porter.
On law as both a conserving and reforming force in society
On choosing clerks
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