By Michael F. McLean
President, Thomas Aquinas College
Board of Governors Working Retreat
October 28, 2017
Tonight we are blessed to have with us Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, who, by appointment of President Ronald Reagan, has served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for the past 31 years.
As a judge of the Ninth Circuit appeals court, Judge O’Scannlain has participated in over 10,000 federal cases and has written hundreds of published opinions and dissents on a broad range of subjects including constitutional law, international law, securities law, administrative law, and criminal law. At the end of last year, having served one of the longest tenures of any judge on the Ninth Circuit, Judge O’Scannlain assumed senior status, meaning his caseload is a little lighter now and his travel a little less frequent.
Judge O’Scannlain received his J.D. in 1963 from Harvard Law School and a B.A. in 1957 from St. John’s University. He also earned an LL.M. in judicial process from the University of Virginia Law School in 1992. Judge O’Scannlain also holds honorary LL.D. degrees from the University of Notre Dame, Lewis & Clark College, and the University of Portland.
Judge O’Scannlain also has served on an array of judicial committees, including by appointment of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., as chair of the JCUS International Judicial Relations Committee from 2010 to 2015, performing rule of law programs with foreign judiciaries in many countries.
In addition to serving as a faculty member at numerous federal appellate practice seminars for judges and attorneys, including New York University Law School’s Institute for Judicial Administration, Judge O’Scannlain is an adjunct professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, where he teaches a seminar on the U.S. Supreme Court. He has served as a moot court judge at distinguished law schools across the U.S. and in China. He will continue to be active in the International Association of Law Schools where he is chair of its Judicial Council.
Between graduation from Harvard and investiture as a federal judge, Judge O’Scannlain was primarily engaged in private law practice. Between 1969 and 1974, under Governor Tom McCall, Judge O’Scannlain served consecutively as deputy attorney general of Oregon, the public utility commissioner of Oregon, and director of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. He retired from the U.S. Army Reserve in 1978 at the rank of major after 23 years Reserve and National Guard service, including four years as an enlisted man.
A first generation Irish-American son of immigrant parents from Sligo and Derry counties, Judge O’Scannlain was born in New York City. He is married to the former Maura Nolan and resides in Oregon; they have eight children and 19 grandchildren. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI conferred the Order of Saint Gregory the Great on the O’Scannlains.
Judge O’Scannlain visited the College in 2013 to give a very well-received lecture on the natural law and its role in American jurisprudence. We are deeply grateful that he could be with us again tonight, though we are sorry indeed that Maura — due to family responsibilities — could not.
Tonight Judge O’Scannlain will speak to us about “Religion and the Courts in the 21st Century.” Please help me welcome the Honorable Diarmuid O’Scannlain.