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Mark Saalfield Norris Sr. (born July 9, 1955 in Akron, Ohio) is a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. He served as a Republican member of the Tennessee Senate from 2001 through 2018, serving as Majority Leader from 2007–2018.

Mark Norris
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
Assumed office
November 8, 2018
Appointed byDonald Trump
Preceded byJ. Daniel Breen
Majority Leader of the Tennessee Senate
In office
January 9, 2007 – November 1, 2018
Preceded byRon Ramsey
Succeeded byJack Johnson
Member of the Tennessee Senate
from the 32nd district
In office
January 2001 – November 1, 2018
Preceded byTom Leatherwood
Succeeded byPaul Rose
Personal details
Born (1955-07-09) July 9, 1955 (age 64)
Akron, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationColorado College (BA)
University of Denver (JD)


Education and careerEdit

Norris received his Bachelor of Arts from Colorado College, and his Juris Doctor from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. From 1980 to 2006, Norris practiced law at Armstrong Allen. Before becoming a judge, Norris was senior counsel at Adams and Reese in Memphis. In 1994, Norris was elected to the Shelby County Commission. He served on that body until 2000.[1]

Tennessee SenateEdit

Norris was first elected to represent District 32 in the Tennessee Senate in 2000. The District is composed of Dyer, Lauderdale, and Tipton counties, and the eastern and northeastern portion of Shelby County.[1] While in the Senate Norris was an active member in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), having attended meetings of the organization.[2][dead link] In 2002, Norris ran to represent Tennessee's 7th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives, but lost the primary to Marsha Blackburn.

He was elected the State Senate Majority Leader in 2007.[1]

In 2015, Norris opposed a proposal to make the Bible the official state book.[3][4]

Norris ran unopposed for re-election in 2016, collecting $655,000 in campaign contributions, the largest among all Tennessee General Assembly candidates.[5]

Norris engaged in an effort to bar refugee resettlement in Tennessee and was a lead figure supporting a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program.[6][7] Norris created an online petition against refugee resettlement under the headline "Don't let potential terrorists come to Tennessee."[8][9] Norris also supported the Trump travel bans.[10]

Norris resigned from the state senate on November 1, 2018, after being confirmed to the district court.[11]

Federal judicial serviceEdit

On July 13, 2017, President Trump nominated Norris to the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, to the seat vacated by Judge J. Daniel Breen, who took senior status on March 18, 2017.[12] Prior to his nomination, Norris was publicly considering a candidacy for Governor of Tennessee in 2018.[10][3]

Trump's nomination of Norris was supported by Republican Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee.[13] Norris' nomination was criticized by former U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin, an appointee of Bill Clinton, who wrote a New York Times opinion editorial in which she described Norris as one of a number of "the least qualified and most bizarre" of Trump's judicial appointments.[14]

On November 1, 2017, a hearing on his nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[15] During the hearing, Norris said in response to a question from Senator Amy Klobuchar that he viewed the case Obergefell v. Hodges (determining that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry) as settled law.[16] On December 7, 2017, his nomination was reported out of committee by a party line 11–9 vote.[17]

On January 3, 2018, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate.[18] On January 5, 2018, President Donald Trump announced his intent to renominate Norris to a federal judgeship.[19] On January 8, 2018, his renomination was sent to the Senate.[20] On January 18, 2018, his nomination was reported out of committee by a party line 11–10 vote.[21] In January 2018, Norris said he was unsure if he would be confirmed to the judgeship by the U.S. Senate and planned to remain in the state legislature until his nomination was ultimately confirmed.[22] On October 11, 2018, his nomination was confirmed by a 51–44 vote.[23] He received his judicial commission on November 8, 2018.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "President Donald J. Trump Announces Fifth Wave of Judicial Candidates" White House, July 13, 2017
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Otis Sanford, Mark Norris has steep trek to Tennessee governorship, Commercial Appeal (January 14, 2017).
  4. ^ Tennessee plan to make Bible 'official' book derailed, Chicago Tribune wire services (April 16, 2015).
  5. ^ Erik Schelzig, More than $16M flows to Tennessee legislative candidates, Associated Press (November 2, 2016).
  6. ^ Cari Wade Gervin, Refugee lawsuit finally filed, Tennessean (March 13, 2017).
  7. ^ Sam Stockard, Tennessee Sues Federal Government Over Refugee Program, Memphis Daily News (March 14, 2017).
  8. ^ Joel Ebert, Lawmakers cite Belgium attacks as need for refugee resolution, Tennessean (March 22, 2016).
  9. ^ Sarah Goodyear, Is the Volunteer State’s campaign to bar refugees really just a veiled expression of Islamophobia?, New York Daily News (July 2, 2016).
  10. ^ a b Joel Ebert, Sen. Mark Norris being vetted for appointment to federal judgeship, USA Today Network (June 12, 2017).
  11. ^
  12. ^ " Ten Nominations Sent to the Senate Today" White House, July 13, 2017
  13. ^ Andy Sher, Trump nominates Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Norris for federal judgeship, Times Free Press (July 13, 2017).
  14. ^ Shira A. Scheindlin, Trump's Crazy Choices for the Courts, New York Times (November 9, 2017).
  15. ^ United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary: Nominations for November 1, 2017
  16. ^ Michael Collins, Judicial nominee Mark Norris tells Senate panel that gay marriage is settled law, USA Today Network (November 1, 2017).
  17. ^ Results of Executive Business Meeting – December 7, 2017, Senate Judiciary Committee
  18. ^ "Congressional Record", United States Senate, January 3, 2018
  19. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Renomination of 21 Judicial Nominees", White House, January 5, 2018
  20. ^ "Nominations Sent to the Senate Today", The White House, January 8, 2018
  21. ^ Results of Executive Business Meeting – January 18, 2018, Senate Judiciary Committee
  22. ^ Buie, Jordan (January 10, 2018). "Sen. Mark Norris says judgeship is uncertain, will remain in legislature until confirmed". The Tennesseean. USA Todday. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  23. ^ "On the Nomination (Confirmation Mark Saalfield Norris, Sr., of Tennessee, to be U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee)". United States Senate. October 11, 2018. Retrieved October 11, 2018.

External linksEdit

Tennessee Senate
Preceded by
Tom Leatherwood
Member of the Tennessee Senate
from the 32nd district

Succeeded by
Paul Rose
Preceded by
Ron Ramsey
Majority Leader of the Tennessee Senate
Succeeded by
Jack Johnson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ron Ramsey
Republican Leader of the Tennessee Senate
Succeeded by
Jack Johnson
Legal offices
Preceded by
J. Daniel Breen
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee