In Memoriam: Alfred T. Goodwin

Alfred Theodore “Ted” Goodwin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 99, died on Dec. 27, 2022. He was an ALI member for over 46 years. At the time of his death, Goodwin was the oldest serving federal judge in the United States and the longest serving current federal judge.

Goodwin earned an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Oregon in 1947 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1951. He began his legal career in general practice before being appointed to the Lane County Circuit Court. He was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court and served for almost 10 years. He was nominated by President Nixon first to the District Court for the District of Oregon and then to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The following is excerpted from his Ninth Circuit Court tribute:

As a committed proponent of better relations among the bench, bar and press, he focused on pretrial publicity and chaired committees in Oregon and for the American Bar Association (ABA) to help improve the public’s confidence in the judiciary. He also chaired the ABA committee on law school accreditations and was a member of the regulatory body that considers clergy discipline for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

While on the Ninth Circuit, Judge Goodwin ruled on several important cases. He was a member of the “spotted owl panel,” whose rulings affected timber industry practices. Judge Goodwin wrote the majority opinion in Newdow v. U.S. Congress (2002–2003), where the court held that it was a violation of separation of church and state to force schoolchildren to recite the “one nation under God” language in the Pledge of Allegiance.

For 20 years Judge Goodwin also served as the court’s en banc coordinator and as chief judge from 1988 to 1991, when he took senior status. Upon taking senior status, Judge Goodwin moved to Sisters, Oregon, where he lived close to the land, spending time on horseback and raising sheep. He continued to serve as a judge for the next 31 years, up to his death.

“I had the privilege of sitting with Judge Goodwin soon after my appointment to the court. I will never forget his kindness, pragmatism, and his inimitable judicial temperament. Simply put, being a judge was in his bones, it was his calling. May he rest in eternal peace,” expressed Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary H. Murguia.

The New York Times also published an obituary, available here [subscription may be required].