The Flipside of Youthful Appointments – Are Young Judges More Likely to Leave the Bench Early?

In the coming month, two Obama appointed judges are resigning from the bench. Judge Gregg Costa, who serves on the Fifth Circuit and Judge Abdul Kallon, who serves on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, are both resigning on August 31, 2022. This, in and of itself, is not particularly remarkable, until one considers that both judges, giving up lifetime appointments, are barely knocking on the doors of their 50s. It is unusual for a judge to leave the bench before reaching eligibility for retirement, but for two to leave in the same month when they have decades of tenure ahead of them does raise a question. Both Costa and Kallon were appointed to the bench at age 40. Do judges appointed at younger ages, despite the hope for their longevity, tend to leave the bench early?

The Rule of 80

Federal judges become eligible for retirement (or for reducing their caseload under senior status) under the Rule of 80. That means that, when the length of a judge’s active tenure on the federal bench added to their age meets or exceeds 80, they are eligible to retire at full pay. As such, a judge appointed to the bench at age 52 would have to serve fourteen years in active status before becoming eligible for senior status. In comparison, a judge appointed at age 56 would serve only twelve years in active status before becoming eligible. The exception to the rule of 80 is if the judge was appointed to the bench before age 50, in which case the judge becomes eligible on their 65th birthday regardless of the length of their tenure. Because of this exception, in theory, judges appointed in their 30s and 40s have a lengthy tenure as an active judge before hitting eligibility for senior status or retirement.

Judges Who Resigned Before Hitting the Rule of 80

Looking back fifty years, the last ten presidents have appointed a total of eighty judges who resigned from the bench before hitting eligibility for senior status/retirement. Breaking it down, eighteen of President Nixon’s appointees to the federal bench resigned early. In comparison, President Ford’s number is three, President Carter appointed eleven, President Reagan appointed nine, President George H.W. Bush appointed eleven, President Clinton appointed thirteen, President George W. Bush appointed eleven, and President Obama has appointed four early resignations (including Costa and Kallon). So far, none of President Trump’s or President Biden’s appointees have resigned early.

Looking at the eighty resignees, they were generally appointed to the bench at comparatively younger ages. While the average judicial nominee over the last fifty years has been appointed to the bench between 50 to 52 years of age, only thirteen of the eighty resignees were appointed to the bench at age fifty or above. In comparison, eighteen of the resignees were appointed between the ages of forty-five and forty-nine, thirty-one were appointed between forty and forty-four, and eighteen were under the age of forty when they were appointed to the bench. As such, a significant majority of judges who resigned over the last fifty years were under the age of forty-five when appointed to the bench.

This is even more notable when one considered how few nominees, comparatively speaking, were traditionally appointed to the bench at such young ages. Consider the following:

  • Nixon appointed forty-six judges under the age of forty five. Twelve of them or 26% resigned early. In comparison, only 3.2% of judges appointed at forty five or older resigned early.
  • Ford appointed eleven judges under the age of forty five. Three of them or 27.3% resigned early. In comparison, none of his judges appointed at forty five or older resigned early.
  • Carter appointed fifty judges under the age of forty five. Seven of them or 14% resigned early. In comparison, only 1.9% of judges appointed at forty five or older resigned early.
  • Reagan appointed one hundred and eleven judges under the age of forty five. Five of them or 3.6% resigned early. In comparison, 1.8% of judges appointed at forty five or older resigned early.
  • George H.W. Bush appointed sixty-eight judges under the age of forty five. Eight of them or 11.8% resigned early. In comparison, only 2.3% of judges appointed at forty five or older resigned early.
  • Clinton appointed sixty-two judges under the age of forty five. Seven of them or 11.3% resigned early. In comparison, only 1.9% of judges appointed at forty five or older resigned early.
  • George W. Bush appointed forty-nine judges under the age of forty five. Five of them or 10.2% resigned early. In comparison, 2.1% of judges appointed at forty five or older resigned early.
  • Obama appointed forty-six judges under the age of forty five. Two of them or 4.3% resigned early. In comparison, 0.7% of judges appointed at forty five or older resigned early.

All in all, 11% of judges appointed by these Presidents who were under the age of 45 at the time of appointment ended up resigning early, a disproportionately high number.

Nor can this discrepancy be explained by younger judges merely having a larger window to resign early. Of the judges appointed under the age of forty, for example, they left the bench at an average age of forty-seven, with most of them serving less than a decade on the bench.

Why Do Younger Appointees Leave Early?

So, what can explain why judges appointed to the bench early are more likely to leave the bench early? Looking at the judges who resigned early, there are three main motivations for these resignations.

The first and largest category of resignations involve judges who returned to private practice. Many of these judges cited the comparatively low pay for judges in motivating their decision to retire. Central District of California Judge Stephen Larson, for example, resigned his lifetime appointment three years in, noting that a federal judge’s salary is insufficient to support his family of seven children. Larson was only forty-five when he left the bench. About twenty years before Larson left the bench, fellow California Judge Raul Ramirez also resigned the bench at forty-five, again citing the comparatively low pay that comes with being a federal judge. Other judges, like Costa, cited a desire to return to the role of an advocate. No matter what the justification, however, there is no denying that a federal judge can easily quintuple their salary (or more) by moving to private practice. For a judge who is looking at a decade or more until their caseload eases with senior status, the desire for a more lucrative career may be a strong motivator.

The second category of judges are those who accepted other appointments or careers (please note that judges elevated to the courts of appeals or supreme court are not considered resignations). This includes judges who accepted appointments on state courts, including Eastern District of Michigan Judge Patricia Boyle, who was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court. Boyle’s son noted that she felt she could do more for the people of Michigan as a state judge. Other judges took executive appointments, including Judge Louis Freeh, who resigned a seat on the Southern District of New York at forty-three to become Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Judge Mark Filip, appointed to the Northern District of Illinois at thirty-seven, who left four years later to serve as U.S. Deputy Attorney General.

The final category of resignations include judges who resigned due to scandals or ethical issues. This group includes judges who served on the bench for a comparatively longer period of time. Colorado Judge Edward Nottingham, for example, served nearly two decades on the bench before resigning amidst multiple misconduct scandals. Despite the length of his tenure, Nottingham was still five years away from senior status eligibility when he retired. Similarly, Middle District of Alabama Judge Mark Fuller resigned his lifetime appointment after twelve years on the bench after an arrest for misdemeanor battery against his wife.


So what does all this tell us about why younger judges tend to leave the bench early. The answer might be remarkably simple. For judges appointed after 20+ years of legal experience, a lifetime appointment can be seen as a capstone on their career. However, younger judges may see it as a tool for career advancement, and, as such, might be more willing to step away if they find another position that is sufficiently attractive.

Of course, none of this suggests that appointing younger judges is completely counterproductive. The vast majority of federal judges, appointed young or otherwise, stay on the bench until retirement eligibility. Furthermore, younger appointees are more likely to be elevated to appellate positions. Every justice currently serving on the Supreme Court, for example, was originally nominated for the federal bench at age forty-five or younger (although Roberts and Kagan were not confirmed on their original nominations). However, the likelihood of younger judges to resign their appointments early could mitigate the utility of appointing younger candidates. As such, future Presidents may consider whether their 40-year-old nominee would will leave the bench a decade down the road.


    • And I’m fine with that. The judges who take a major pay cut to become a federal judge are Big Law corporate attorneys, and they are extremely overrepresented on the federal bench. We do not need more of them there.

      One of the things I strongly oppose is increasing the salary of federal judges. CJ Roberts and others have been advocating this for many years to make the judgeship more attractive for corporate partners. That’s exactly why I strongly oppose this harebrained idea, I don’t want it to be more attractive to those types. Rather I want it to be considerably less attractive for corporate lawyers who care primarily about maximizing their bank account to be federal judges.


  1. One correction to the article. If your counting any reason for leaving early, one Trump judge has already left the bench in Louisiana for disability I believe. But an absolutely great article. I didn’t know if the judge was appointed to the bench before age 50, in which case the judge becomes eligible on their 65th birthday regardless of the length of their tenure.

    While the two Obama judges leaving early on the same day next month that were appointed in their 40’s add to a pretty lengthy list mentioned in the article, I’ll still take my chances on appointing younger judges & hope then end up like Clarence Thomas & stay on the bench for multiple decades.


    • Hi Dequan,

      Thanks for noting this and for your always insightful comments here. Judge Michael Juneau of the Western District is still technically on the bench and hasn’t resigned. He just took senior status early by declaring a certified disability. I view this as distinct from resignation in two ways:

      First, a judge on certified disability still renders service on the bench. They still have a caseload and hear cases and continue to shape the law in a manner that a resigned judge does not. Judge John Kane in Colorado for example took senior status at age 51 in 1988 and is still hearing cases to this day. He was appointed at age 40 and has presumably lived (at least somewhat) up to his expected longevity.

      Second, unlike resignation, judges can’t control medical issues, and they are likely to hit randomly regardless of age of appointment. As such, it didn’t seem logical to lump what is essentially an act of chance with a deliberate decision by the judge to leave the bench.

      As such, judges who took certified disability were not counted in the 80 above, including Juneau, Kane, and Judge Todd Campbell in Tennessee (appointed to the bench at 39), among others.


  2. Great article here, and some good reasons here to not look solely at age when considering nominees. It’s very possible that older nominees would end up serving much longer than their younger contemporary’s. As Dequan noted, taking senior status due to a disability is another reason someone might leave the bench early, although it is much more uncommon than the other reasons made above.


  3. Today in Random Judicial Musing: Age and ABA (the major themes of our beloved blog this week)

    What a fantastic article! I wish we got more of these to supplement the write ups for nominees. As it is, these articles are too few and far between.
    This week, William Bertelsman, a senior judge on Kentucky’s ED, dismissed the defamation suit of that Covington Catholic High School kid who sued a bunch of media outlets for their framing of the viral confrontation of a Native American and himself back in 2019. The dismissal gives the Washington Post et al. a reprieve, while CNN et al. settled earlier and made the kid a millionaire.
    Anyway, Bertelsman was put on the bench by Carter in 1979. He went senior in early 2001. Bush, Jr. filled his seat with a 35-year-old nominee: (GOP Sen. Jim Bunning’s son) David Bunning. His ABA rating: majority NQ.

    The takeaways

    In a period of time that dwarfs his years in the WH, Carter’s appointees, few as they are now, are still having an impact on the law.

    [Reagan appointed 111 judges under 45??? Even with FIVE of them leaving early, that’s still some serious judicial legacy. Some judges Reagan appointed before I was born are still serving. That’s what Biden and Dem presidents should aim for.
    The number of early retirements barely broke 11%, I can absolutely live with that. Keep them coming.
    I will always believe that if RBG was appointed to SCOTUS earlier, say by Carter, she wouldn’t have felt the need to stay on so long to such devastating effect.]

    After 20 years on the bench, Judge Bunning (56) is still younger than some of the people some on here would hope to see get nominated. Bunning still feasibly has decades more of active service left to provide.

    ABA rating:
    His nomination and ABA’s subsequent NQ rating marked the beginning of the end of ABA’s influence on the judicial nomination process. It should also be noted that the Senate unanimously confirmed him (probably as a senatorial courtesy).


  4. Interesting article. It’s a concern and hopefully one that the administration is doing a good job of in the vetting process. But of course you won’t bat 1.000 on everyone.

    That being said I’d still rather roll the dice on going younger and hope that if they retire/leave early that they at least do it during a favorable session (like Costa is) so that the president can get a similar judge confirmed in their place.


    • Julie Rikelman for the 1st circuit looks great. Wonderful to see a reproductive rights attorney prioritized for a nomination. Judge Kahn for the 2nd is a surprise, and I think older than we usually hope for. I wonder what happened to Rodriguez or Mullins.


    • Durbin has already said that recess will not be canceled. And for groups asking them to shorten their month long vacation like Republicans did to to f*ck off so yeah not happening.

      The majority of judicial nominees won’t be confirmed. Many articles have shown that there isn’t enough possible time with the schedule the Senate has. A schedule that is a joke to anyone in the real world.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll give grades later, but Biden just nominated a pro-choice advocate for the 1st Circuit. Joe Manchin will likely vote no on her, so you better hope that Collins or Murkowski backs her.

      I get why you do this for political reasons, but for the purposes of actually confirming judges, this is a very risky gambit.


    • WOW, just catching up. I had to take a 5am flight to Nashville for the WWE Summerslam pay per view so I went right to sleep when I got to my hotel & wake up to this surprising Friday batch of new nominees. Here’s my vacation edition of what I think with the caveat I could change my opinion slightly upon returning back home to Miami & researching the nominees more.

      Julie Rikelman (c. 1971) – WOW, our first reproduction rights nominee. I’ll happily take a nominee in their low 50’s with a solid background like her. I couldn’t tell if this nominee was for the Massachusetts or New Hampshire seat but I will assume Massachusetts. I am not confident any of these nominees will be able to get confirmed before the midterms so based on the results will determine if they will be able to get confirmed. I am a little worried if this nominee will be able to get 50 votes right now but with the polls looking decent for Dems plus other factors that might make the environment more favorable, hopefully she will be confirmed before the end of the year if we can pick up another senate seat… A

      Maria Araújo Kahn (c. 1964) – This nominee had a solid progressive background with being a former federal defender & disability rights advocate. Plus her being from Angola is a historic pick. But with her being nearly 60 plus her being picked over Cristina Rodriguez & Justin Driver, I have to lower my grade for this nominee significantly… C-

      Daniel Calabretta (c. 1978) – This was one of my district court nominees I had suggested. I figured with his Munger, Tolles and Olson background, he would be picked. His close work with governor Brown makes me believe he will be a good nominee… B+

      Todd E. Edelman (c. 1978) – I was hoping this wouldn’t be the nominee for any of the last three vacancies but when we got Florence Pan I would have rather him. Another former federal defender so that is good but his age simply lowers his standing in my book. Plus there were much better picks… D-

      Jeffery P. Hopkins (c. 1960) – What can I say, this is a purple state so can’t expect much. We actually got a good batch of three nominees so can’t complain here as I wasn’t expecting the seat to get filled at all… D-

      Myong J. Joun (c. 1972) – I don’t know much about this nominee. It’s nice to see veterans put in the courts but I will have to do more research. For now… C

      Julia Kobick (c. 1983) – Finally a young nominee for Massachusetts & one that clerked for Gingsburgh… B

      Rita Lin (c. 1978) – This seems like your run of the mill California nominee… C+

      Araceli Martinez-Olguin (c. 1977) – Stellar immigration right attorney… A-


      • @Delco

        There were actually three major surprises in this batch. The first reproduction rights lawyer from Biden. As you said a non sitting state court judge from California that is also young & progressive. And a young judge from Massachusetts.

        If the second circuit pick was either Cristina Rodriguez or Justin Driver, this arguably could have been his best batch to date. We even got an intent to nominate in this batch which as I said the other two times Biden has done this (With Pan & Jenkins) is GREAT news. We need to get ahead of nominations.


      • @Dequan when I first realized Martinez-Olguin wasn’t a sitting state judge I was shocked and then I thought this must be a very center/ right of center nominee like all the other CA nominees. When that was wrong, I was pleasantly surprised.

        I agree, this batch is fantastic! Definitely some of the best backgrounds we’ve seen in any of the batches to date. So, so much better than the last one. Only thing is I wish Khan was younger but I like her background much more than Mullins so I am relieved in that way. The 2nd circuit is the one circuit where Biden has unfortunately not emphasized age unlike the other circuits where he has done a great job nominating people under age 45.

        While I would have liked Dewar for the 1st circuit MA spot, I am very pleased and even more ecstatic with the Rikelman pick as I type this. In times like these, we have never needed more reproductive rights champions than we do now. If only we could have seen this batch earlier!


      • @Delco

        I thought the same thing. Knowing what we have gotten from California district court judges previously for the most part, unless it was a name I previously had known like Daniel Calabretta, I wasn’t expecting much. Araceli Martinez-Olguin is by far the best Cali district court nominee we have gotten so far under Biden.

        If we had gotten Cecelia Wang instead of Rita Lin & either Rodriguez or Driver for the second circuit, this batch would have been an A overall. I really like the Julie Rikelman pick, especially since I have been harsh on Elizabeth Warren & the slow pace to get nominees for Massachusetts while she’s talking about adding seats to the SCOTUS. It’s past time we get our first Biden nominee with a strong pro-choice record. I like the tiling since she won’t get a floor vote before the midterms anyway. I’m hoping her working in Alaska for three years will put Murkowski in play.


      • @Dequan Martinez-Olguin definitely looks to be the best CA nominee yet. I’ve looked at the rulings from the CA nominees who have taken the bench so far, and they are beyond horrible. Rulings that you would expect from Republican judges. In one, Jennifer Thurston ruled against workers and for a company that made its employees work off the clock, didn’t give them lunch breaks, and more. I’ve seen Jinsook Ohta has made similar rulings.

        The CA nominating processes is beyond awful. A lot of that probably has to do with Feinstein so it will be great when she retires.


      • I completely agree with all @Delco. They did a great job leaving seats vacant during Trump’s term only to pass over countless young progressives for run of the mill sitting state court judges. California is only over shadowed by New Jersey’s horrible picks. I really wish The WH Counsel’s office had pushed back early last year in both states.


    • First of all, I really appreciate the current pace of nominations – this is exactly what we need. What is more, I very much like this batch: Obviously, I am particularly enthusiastic about Kubick, Martinez-Olguin and Rikelman (still, I would have expected an African-American nominee out of MA, given that Judge Thompson was replaced by a white woman and that the NH nominee is probably unlikely to be black, which leaves the First Circuit without an active black judge).
      I am much less enthused by the nominations of Hopkins, Lin and Khan. Hopkins is much too old and Lin lacks any progressive background in a region that is probably the most progressive in the nation. And Khan, while boasting an interesting and diverse background and solid credentials, is simply too old. What is more, in the state where Yale is located, there would have been a plethora of other, much younger options, including Rodriguez, Driver and Marisol Orihuela. Generally, I have always held the opinion that the successor of Cabranes should be an eloquent academic. Khan will do well, but Biden’s team could have done better here.


  5. Why do we think Manchin would be a no? He’s voted for WHPA and has voted in favor of every Biden nominee so far, including several that were controversial in conservative circles.


    • That’s not correct. Manchin voted *against* WHPA, the only Democrat to do so. He also voted against several Obama nominees who were strong pro-choice advocates.

      The reason why Manchin has voted for every Biden nominee so far is that they have all likely been cleared with Manchin. My guess is that Biden has just not nominated several people because Manchin could reject them.


  6. I think Manchin is more likely to vote against someone if he or she is active on Twitter, and whose posting history includes telling conservatives to go “F” themselves, etc…This is main reason he voted against Neera Tanden for the WH position


  7. I think Manchin is more likely to vote against someone if he or she has a Twitter history of telling conservatives to go F themselves, etc….

    This is why he was against Neera Tanden for the WH position last year, because of her using R rated language calling out conservatives.


  8. Last post here for a minute, but I believe after todays these are the last 7 remaining circuit court vacancies.

    First (Concord, NH)
    Fourth (Spartanburg, SC)
    Fourth (Baltimore)
    Fifth (Houston)
    Seventh (Lafayette, IN)
    Ninth (Billings, MT)
    Tenth (Lawrence, KS)

    I know Durbin and Grassley are supposedly talking up a plan to include more nominees at hearings, but looking at the calendar I only see potential hearing dates on 9/7, 9/21, 10/12, 11/9 (though I doubt theyd do it the day after an election), and maybe 11/30.

    To fit the four pending nominees and the seven current vacancies into just 4 hearings would be quite ambitious. I guess if they do 3 at each this would be possible. Ultimately time will tell and I have to hope that Durbin and Schumer have a master plan that we’re all unaware of to get these through committee and through the senate floor (where so many nominees are languishing)


  9. Great news about the Rikelman nomination – I agree with others that I’m concerned this is just a political/messaging nomination and she won’t actually get confirmed. I’m hoping the White House did its homework with Manchin or Collins/Murkowski. It seems like nominating her and then failing to get her confirmed would cause more progressive anger than never nominating her, but the whole Meredith ordeal leaves me with little faith in Biden’s ability to think through the wider consequences of judicial nominations. I would assume that her nomination is dead in the water without Manchin’s support, but given Alaska’s new primary system, I could see Murkowski voting yes. Maybe even Collins too, but she has less incentive to do so.

    On an interesting note, I see that the White House’s announcement highlighted that she’s a Ukrainian immigrant: If I were the White House or any of Rikelman’s supporters, I’d emphasize that to make Manchin look worse if he tanks the only Ukrainian immigrant (maybe refugee) nominated to the federal courts at this time.

    Araujo Kahn – disappointing given her age, but her experience as a PD and in disability rights is good. She’ll probably be better on criminal justice issues than Mullins, and as long as she can serve 10-15 years (when we’ll hopefully have another Dem President/Senate), then I guess it’s fine if we can be sure to fill Cabranes’s seat. Such a missed opportunity not to put Cristina Rodriguez on this seat though.

    Didn’t look at all the district court nominations that closely, but I’m pretty sure that Araceli Martinez-Olguin is the first Biden nominee with an immigrants’ rights background. Hopefully she actually gets confirmed (I can’t see any Republicans supporting her, but nothing suggests that Manchin hates immigrants as much as he hates women), and she’s a much more progressive pick than the state court judges that have been selected otherwise. I assume she was Padilla’s pick.


    • Well it’s unlikely Rikelman gets a vote before the election anyway unless Murkowski is willing to support her in order to get progressive support in Alaska. If Biden wants to get Murkowski’s vote, he could offer her choice of the district court judge.

      “It seems like nominating her and then failing to get her confirmed would cause more progressive anger than never nominating her”

      Oh I strongly disagree with this as long as WH is seen as fighting hard for her. The greatest source of anger from progressives toward Biden is that he makes little to no effort toward these goals, he dithers and delays and it sure seems that Biden really doesn’t want to do these things. I would have a lot more respect for Biden if he was pushing a bunch of executive actions and actually fighting for them, even if they were going to be struck down by SCOTUS. My biggest source of anger is that the WH does little or nothing unilaterally and is scared of Joe Manchin, the GOP, and SCOTUS, rather than fighting the latter two head on.


      • I think the President of the United States has bigger things on his plate than any particular Circuit or district court judge.

        I think I am okay with Rikelman. I just want to know what she thinks about issues outside of abortion. Sometimes it feels like abortion is the issue that’s out there. It’s not.

        While I am unsure what the status of abortion laws in Puerto Rico. .the rest of the states under the First Circuit’ jurisdiction are more secure than the solid red states.

        I think the problem that people have with Biden is that he is not their “guy.” It’s no less foolish than Trump trying to redo the last election.

        Let’s not be honest there’s nothing Biden can do that will satisfy you. It’s a revolving bitching and moaning. One week it’s Durbin and Schumer then back to Biden.

        For the past few months it’s been “there aren’t enough nominees” and then when Biden sends up 25 for July it’s they are too “old” or “corporate ” types. It’s always something.

        A man in Biden’s position can’t afford to look ridiculous. We used to
        have recess appointments but the entire court sided with the Senate. The executive actions that people are expecting won’t be helpful either.

        I really wanted Sherrod Brown to be President but It didn’t happen. Then I went to Cory Booker and he didn’t make. It is what it is.

        Anyone expecting Biden to thrust his person against the marble pillars at the supreme court or to wrap himself in a flag and roll down it’s steps or to get arrested. It’s not gonna happen. This is government not a college campus or professional rasslin. Just vote and these matters will be resolved.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Nominee grades:

    Julie Rikelman: B+. But have great doubt she can be confirmed. Also a slight downgrade for being a corporate attorney for NBC.

    Maria Araujo Kahn: C. Progressive background, but too old. Still a far better choice than criminal hardliner Raheem Mullins. But with Justin Driver and Cristina Rodriguez available, this is a disappointment.

    Daniel Calabretta: B-. Was a corporate attorney, but only earlier in his career. But not much of a progressive background, mostly worked for mainstream establishment Democrats.

    Todd Edelman: B-. Strong progressive background, both as a public defender and labor lawyer. Only issue is age.

    Myong Joun: A. Strong progressive background, both in his legal work and as a board member on several progressive legal groups. Disappointed that he wasn’t nominated earlier by Biden.

    Julia Kobick: A-. Bessie Dewar’s deputy in Massachusetts. I would have nominated Dewar here instead if you weren’t nominating her to the 1st Circuit.

    Araceli Martinez Olguin: A. Excellent immigration attorney.

    Rita Lin: F. Corporate lawyer and AUSA. An absolutely awful selection from the most progressive area of the country.

    Jeffrey Hopkins: D. Would have taken my chances with Tim Ryan winning in November rather than put up this sort of a nominee.


  11. I’ve noticed this trend too, though I never understood why it is beyond the rules of when a judge can take senior status & that an older person has a higher life expectancy than a younger one because of the years they’ve already survived. Consider the oldest circuit judges (who have not taken senior status) in the nation and you’ll see that most were appointed at an older age. I thought of it as longer-serving judges feel more ready to go senior when they can compared to shorter-serving judges.

    Pauline Newman (Fed. Cir)- took bench at age 57, currently 95
    Alan Lourie (Fed)- took bench at 55, currently 87
    James Dennis (5th)- took bench at 59, currently 86
    Timothy Dyk (Fed)- took bench at 63, currently 85
    Ilana Rovner (7th)- took bench at 54, currently 83
    Judith Rogers (D.C.)- took bench at 55, currently 83
    Robert King (4th)- took bench at 58, currently 82
    James Loken (8th)- took bench at 50, currently 82
    Jose Cabranes (2nd)- took bench at 54, currently 81
    Paul Niemeyer (4th)- took bench at 49, currently 81
    Milan Smith (9th)- took bench at 64, currently 80

    Except for Niemeyer, none of the 11 oldest circuit judges were under 50 when taking the bench.


    • @Ryan Joshi

      Very good list. Pauline Newman Looks like she’s trying to be the Betty White of the federal judiciary & make it to 100 years old. Out of the 11 judges you mentioned, 3 have already announced they are stepping down upon the confirmation of their successor & one additional judge did but threw a temper tantrum & rescinded when the lawyer he wanted to replace him was not going to be. Hopefully some of the remaining 7 step down too in the next year or two if Dems hold the majority.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m not thrilled with the Kahn nomination either but it might be that Biden & company would worried about another judge deciding to change his mind on senior status if they nominated someone too liberal and went with Kahn.
    And while she not as liberal as we might like, she will be world’s better then the man she is replacing.


  13. A blast from the past on this topic:

    Old World: Why isn’t Obama appointing young judges to the circuit courts?

    These days, it has become a prerequisite for Supreme Court justices to have served on a circuit court. And if circuit nominees are not relatively young, then they will be too old for elevation to the high court by the time they have the necessary experience. The makeup of the Roberts Court illustrates this point: All nine justices served as circuit judges, and their average age when successfully nominated to the circuit courts was 44–eleven years younger than the average age of Obama’s nominees.


    • @Gavi

      Several Obama circuit court nominees left the bench in the very next presidential administration which helped Trump achieve his 54 circuit court judges. That was in 4 years while Obama appointed 55 in 8 years. I will argue against nominating older circuit court judges, particularly now that blue slips are gone for them, any day of the week.

      After Biden gets 60 something Justice Khan on the 2nd circuit, he will have put six judges on that circuit. Two of Trump’s judges will be younger then every Biden judge. If I knew Justin Driver, Cristina Rodriguez & Jamal Greene were all going to be passed over I would have rooted for Schumer to fight harder to keep the seat in New York.


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