Judge Holly Thomas was confirmed by the Senate on January 20th, 2022. She previously served on the Los Angeles County Superior Court, where she was assigned to the Family Law Division. .
From 2016 to 2018, Judge Thomas was Deputy Director of Executive Programs of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, where she helped oversee the agency’s work protecting California residents from discrimination.
From 2015 to 2016, Judge Thomas was Special Counsel to the Solicitor General of New York, where she represented the state in federal and state courts. In this role, she advised state agencies on pending litigation and counseled trial bureaus. Her work included serving as counsel of record in an amicus brief opposing North Carolina’s anti-transgender “bathroom bill.”
From 2010 to 2015, Judge Thomas was a Senior Attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, where her work included informing the president’s conclusion that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and warranted heightened scrutiny. In 2013, she received the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service.
From 2005 to 2010, Judge Thomas was Assistant Counsel for the NAACP LDF’s Education and Criminal Justice Practice groups, where her work included cases pertaining to school desegregation and ensuring equal access to higher education.
Since Thurgood Marshall’s historic nomination to the bench until Judge Thomas’s confirmation, only six lawyers with experience at the NAACP LDF had become federal judges across our entire country. Upon confirmation, Judge Thomas became the seventh.
Upon confirmation, Judge Thomas became only the second Black woman judge on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Judge Thomas received her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in 2000, and her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2004. From 2004 to 2005, she clerked for Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw of the Ninth Circuit.