Judge Robert Varner

Honorable Robert E. Varner

April 27, 2000

Judge Robert Edward Varner

U.S. District Judge Robert Varner said the Fire Department did not violate [the plaintiff's] constitutional rights by ordering him to cut his chest hair at the neckline or wear a t-shirt. Varner ruled that [the plaintiff] failed to prove the issue was a matter of public concern, which would merit First Amendment protection.

Judge Robert Edward Varner was born in Montgomery, Alabama in June of 1921. A native of Tuskegee, Alabama, he would earn his Bachelor of Science degree from Auburn University in 1942, and then serve as a flight instructor in the U.S. Naval Air Corps in World War II as a Naval Aviator Lieutenant (JG) from 1942 until 1946.

He received his Juris Doctorate from The University of Alabama School of Law in 1949, and his first private legal practice was in Tuskegee from 1949 to 1954, and he served as city attorney in Tuskegee in 1951. Judge Varner was a member of the Macon County Board of Education, serving as Chairman in 1954.

Varner would later move to Montgomery, Alabama, and serve as an assistant U.S. Attorney from 1954 to 1958, and then re-entered private practice in Montgomery with the firm of Jones, Murray, Stewart and later, Varner.

In February of 1971, Varner was nominated to the new seat on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, and was confirmed that April. He served as Chief Judge from 1979 to 1984, and assumed senior status in 1986,serving in that capacity until his death in May of 2006.

An avid outdoorsman, Judge Varner also found time to participate in numerous community service activities, including the Montgomery Rotary Club, the Tukabatchee Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Montgomery Bar Association, as well as numerous judicial committees. He received numerous awards, including the Silver Beaver Award by the Boy Scouts and an Outstanding Alumnus Award.