By Elliott Beale and Cassidy Webb

Senior Judge Clyde H. Hamilton was born in 1934 in the town of Edgefield, South Carolina.[1] After obtaining his B.S. from Wofford College in 1956, Judge Hamilton served as a U.S. Army Reserve Captain from 1956-1958.[2]  Judge Hamilton then attended George Washington University Law School, graduating with his J.D. with honors in 1961.[3] For the next two decades, Judge Hamilton worked in private practice in Edgefield and Spartanburg.[4]

On November 13, 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Judge Hamilton to a vacant seat in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.[5]  The Senate confirmed Judge Hamilton on November 24, 1981; Judge Hamilton served in this role until 1991.[6]  On June 12, 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated Judge Hamilton to fill a newly created seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.[7]  He was confirmed by the Senate on July 18, 1991 and assumed senior status on November 30, 1999.[8]  Senior status allows a retirement-eligible judge to continue serving on the bench while taking a reduced caseload.[9]  He is still currently serving as a senior judge.[10]

The majority of the cases Judge Hamilton hears are civil procedure cases, followed by labor and employment law and business and corporate compliance cases.[11]  He has presided over numerous interesting cases.  For example, in 2015 Judge Hamilton sat on the Fourth Circuit panel that found “consumers accusing manufacturers of making false advertising statements must show that no reasonable expert would agree with the statements.”[12]  This ruling was the “first-of-its-kind” by a federal appellate court.[13]  Judge Hamilton was also on the panel that “upheld the constitutionality of a federal law prohibiting citizens from engaging in non-commercial, illicit sexual conduct after traveling to a foreign country.”[14]

One of the most notable cases Judge Hamilton heard was decided in 2003.[15]  In 2002, 13-year-old middle schooler Alan Newsom was told by Virginia school officials that he could not wear a “NRA T-shirt depicting images of three people with guns and the words ‘Sports Shooting Camp.’”[16]  Newsom sued the school district and the Fourth Circuit eventually ruled that the school’s ban on clothing portraying weapons is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.[17]  Judge Hamilton wrote the opinion of the court.[18]  He stated that the school’s dress code “exclude[d] a broad range and scope of symbols, images, and political messages that are entirely legitimate and even laudatory.”[19]       

As Judge Hamilton remains serving as a senior judge, he continues to hear cases.[20]  Recently, he was on the panel that although “testimony may have conflicted with disputed evidence, the conflict can affect only the weight and credibility of the opinion, not its admissibility.”[21]  Last year, he sat on the panel that affirmed a lower court’s decision to cap at $100,000 an insurer’s duty to defend a gym in a suit claiming two of its staff sexually assaulted a teenager.[22]  Judge Hamilton will likely be involved in many future fascinating cases as he continues his impressive career.

[1]Senior Judge Clyde H. Hamilton, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, (last visited Mar. 18, 2019). 


[3]Clyde H. Hamilton, Lexis Context, (last visited Mar. 18, 2019).

[4]Senior Judge Clyde H. Hamilton, supra note 1. 





[9]Kevin Elliker, How Senior Status Vacancies Will Shape the 4th Circ., Law 360 (Feb. 7, 2018),

[10]Senior Judge Clyde H. Hamilton,supra note 1. 

[11]Clyde H. Hamiltonsupra note 3. 

[12]Sindhu Sundar, 4th Circ. Raises Bar for False Ad Plaintiffs in GNC Ruling, Law 360 (July 9, 2015),


[14]Marcia Coyle, Gov’t Can Prosecute Citizens for Illicit Sex in Foreign Countries, The Legal Intelligencer (Aug. 25, 2015),

[15]Michelle Galley, Court Blocks School Ban on Weapons Images, Education Week (Jan. 7, 2004), 



[18]Eugene Volokh, High School Student Suspended for Refusing to Remove NRA T-shirt, Wash. Post (Mar. 13, 2014),


[20]See 4th Circuit: Testimony that Conflicted with Disputed Evidence was Allowed, Mealey’s Daubert Report (July 20, 2018),


[22]Adam Rhodes, Gym’s Sex Abuse Coverage Capped at $100K by 4th Circ., Law 360 (Mar. 27, 2018),