Remembering C. Boyden Gray, One of First Liberty’s Premier Volunteer Attorneys

May 26, 2023
Remembering C. Boyden Gray | First Liberty Institute

by Jorge Gomez • 5 min read

America recently lost a patriot and First Liberty lost a dear friend. We remember C. Boyden Gray, who died on March 21. Gray was a giant in the conservative legal movement and leaves behind a tremendous legacy. We commemorate his extensive and distinguished career in the law, academia and public service.

Gray was the founding partner of Boyden Gray & Associates, one of the most prestigious law firms in America. He was one of First Liberty’s premier network attorneys. Over the years, his firm volunteered hundreds of hours in defense of religious liberty.

His firm has taken on some of the most significant religious freedom cases in the country. They include serving as lead counsel on:

  • Klein v. Bureau of Labor Industries: our SweetCakes by Melissa case defending Aaron and Melissa Klein, the small family bakery persecuted by the State of Oregon for declining to violate their religious beliefs in creating a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
  • Strader v. CVS Health Corp: our case defending Robyn Strader, a nurse practitioner fired by CVS for not prescribing contraceptives in violation of her religious beliefs.
  • Kristofersdottir v. CVS Health Corp.: our case defending Gunna Kristofersdottir, a nurse practitioner fired from CVS for not prescribing contraceptives in violation of her religious beliefs.

Gray served President George H. W. Bush for 12 years in the White House, first as counsel to the Vice President during the Reagan Administration, and then as White House Counsel during the Bush Administration.

He was one of the leading voices in the fight for a constitutionalist judiciary—one that interprets rather than rewrites our Constitution and laws. In 2002, he founded the Committee for Justice (CFJ) to stand up to the obstruction of George W. Bush’s judicial nominees. He played a central role in selecting Clarence Thomas for the U.S. Supreme Court and exposing the weaknesses of the accusations levied against him.

“Boyden Gray inspired those of us who believe in conservative legal principles,” CFJ said in a statement. “Boyden was a trailblazer in the fight to enforce the constitutional limits on the federal government, including the limits on the administrative state.”

He served as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union from 2006 to 2007, and Special Envoy for European Affairs and Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy from 2008 to 2009. He received the Presidential Citizens Medal for his service.

Gray was a generous supporter of educational causes, ranging from the Bishop Walker School for Boys, to the Gray professorships at the UNC Law School and the Harvard School of Public Health, to the battle for charter schools and school choice in Washington, DC. He was an adjunct professor at NYU Law School, and he founded the C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School.

He was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1943. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, where he was a regular contributor to the Crimson, and with high honors from the University of North Carolina Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the North Carolina Law Review. He clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren at the U.S. Supreme Court and served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

Thank you, Boyden, for your dedication, your passion and for the many decades of selfless service to our country. At First Liberty Institute, you will always be cherished and remembered.

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