John D. Bates

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John Deacon Bates
Born 1946
Elizabeth, New Jersey
Nationality United States
Alma mater Wesleyan University B.A.
University of Maryland School of Law J.D.
Predecessor Stanley S. Harris

John Deacon Bates (born October 11, 1946), is a United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. He was appointed by President George W. Bush in December 2001, and has adjudicated in several cases directly affecting the office of the President.


Bates was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He received a B.A. from Wesleyan University in 1968, and a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1976. From 1968 to 1971, he served as a first lieutenant in the United States Army, including a tour in Vietnam.[1]

He and his wife Carol Ann Rhees, also a former lawyer with Steptoe & Johnson LLP, live in Bethesda, Maryland. They have three children.


Bates was a law clerk for Judge Roszel C. Thomsen of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland from 1976 to 1977 and was an associate at Steptoe & Johnson from 1977 to 1980. He served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1980 to 1987, and was Chief of the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office from 1987 to 1997. Judge Bates was on detail as Deputy Independent Counsel for the Whitewater investigation from 1995 to mid-1997. In 1998, he joined the Washington law firm of Miller & Chevalier, where he was Chair of the Government Contracts/Litigation Department and a member of the Executive Committee. From September 1995 until leaving in March 1997, Bates worked as Deputy Independent Counsel for Kenneth Starr and the Independent Counsel's office during the investigation into President Bill Clinton.

On September 4, 2001, Bates was nominated by President George W. Bush to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, vacated by Stanley S. Harris. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 11, 2001, and received his commission on December 14, 2001.[1]

Bates has served on the Advisory Committee for Procedures of the D.C. Circuit and on the Civil Justice Reform Committee for the District Court, and as Treasurer of the D.C. Bar, Chairman of the Publications Committee of the D.C. Bar, and Chairman of the Litigation Section of the Federal Bar Association. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. In 2005, he was appointed by Chief Justice Rehnquist to serve on the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management. In February 2006, he was appointed by Chief Justice Roberts to serve as a judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.[2]

Notable rulings

  • On March 12, 2012, U.S. District Judge Bates dismissed a Privacy Act claim saying that the "JABS [Joint Automated Booking System] was not limited to arrests for a criminal charge". [3] However, the Department of Justice twice published Privacy Act Notices in the Federal Register stating that the "categories of individuals covered by the [JABS] system" are "alleged criminal offenders who have been detained, arrested, booked, or incarcerated" and no one else. [4] [5]
  • On December 10, 2010, U.S. District Judge Bates dismissed a challenge to President Barack Obama's targeted killing order against Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a dual American and Yemeni citizen with ties to al-Qaeda. Judge Bates ruled that al-Awlaki's father, Nasser al-Awlaki, who filed the suit with assistance by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, lacked legal standing in the case against the Obama Administration. In the ruling, Judge Bates stopped short of granting the executive branch "unreviewable authority" to order the killing of an American citizen, instead concluding that the case would likely be settled in another forum outside the courtroom.[6]
  • On July 31, 2008, Judge Bates ruled, in a dispute between the Administrative and Legislative branches, that President George W. Bush's advisers, chief of staff Josh Bolten and former legal counsel Harriet Miers, are not immune from congressional subpoenas to testify about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys and turn over all related, non-privileged documents.[7][8]
  • On July 19, 2007, he dismissed a lawsuit filed by Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband against Vice President Dick Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove, former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Plame's lawyers had said from the beginning of the lawsuit that it would be quite difficult to win, since public officials and servants are generally immune from such suits filed in connection with their jobs. Plame's identity as a CIA field operative was revealed in a syndicated newspaper column in 2003. This revelation coincided with (Plame's husband) Wilson's criticism of the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. Many opponents of the administration question the timing of the leak of Plame's identity, and assign blame of the leak to officials in the administration. Although several administration officials were questioned in an investigation of the leak, no formal charges were brought, and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was then found guilty of lying and obstruction of the investigation as a consequence of his lying. President George W. Bush consequently commuted Libby's sentence, preventing him from doing any prison time at all.[citation needed]
  • "Dismissed a lawsuit by outed spy Valerie Plame and her husband against Vice President Dick Cheney and other top Bush administration officials." Judge Bates stated in his ruling that the couple's allegations "pose important questions relating to the propriety of actions undertaken by our highest government officials," but that he had to dismiss their claims for jurisdictional reasons. While saying the Bush administration officials' actions "may have been highly unsavory," Bates nonetheless ruled "there can be no serious dispute" that speaking to the press to rebut Wilson's criticism was "within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level Executive Branch officials." [10] The Wilsons appealed.
  • "In a December 30, 2002 decision, Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court ruled that lead plaintiff Representative Dennis Kucinich and 31 other Members of the House of Representatives have no standing to challenge President Bush’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty without congressional approval. He also ruled that the case presents a "political question" not suitable for resolution by the courts."



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