Judge Loren AliKhan – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

D.C. Court of Appeals Judge Loren AliKhan has been tapped for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. While AliKhan’s first Senate confirmation was relatively smooth, she will likely draw more opposition this time around.


Born June 24, 1983, Loren Linn AliKhan graduated from Bard’s College at Simon’s Rock in 2003 and then received her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2006.

After graduating, AliKhan clerked for Judge Louis Pollak on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and for Judge Thomas L. Ambro on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit before joining the Department of Justice as a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General. AliKhan then joined the Washington D.C. office of O’Melveny & Myers as an associate.

In 2013, AliKhan joined the D.C. Attorney General’s Office to work as Deputy Solicitor General. In 2018, she was appointed by Attorney General Karl Racine to be Solicitor General for the District of Columbia.

On September 30, 2021, AliKhan was nominated by President Biden to become a judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals (not to be confused with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit), replacing Judge John Fisher. AliKhan was confirmed to the position on February 8, 2022 by a 55-41 vote and has served on the D.C. Court of Appeals since February 18, 2022.

History of the Seat

The seat AliKhan has been nominated for opened on May 1, 2023 from Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s move to senior status.

Legal Experience

AliKhan started her legal career as a clerk to Judge Louis Pollak on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and then for Judge Thomas L. Ambro on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. After a brief stint with the Solicitor General’s office, AliKhan joined O’Melveny & Myers, where she litigated primarily in federal court. Notably, AliKhan was part of the legal team representing a noncitizen challenging a determination that his convictions for simple drug possession constituted “aggravated felonies” that warranted adverse immigration consequences. See Carachuri-Rosado v. Holder, 560 U.S. 563 (2010). In that case, AliKhan and O’Melveny worked with the University of Houston Law Center alongside the primary petitioner’s counsel Sri Srinivasan (currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit). Notably, AliKhan’s team was opposed by then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan (currently a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court). The case ended with a unanimous ruling in favor of the petitioner. See id. AliKhan was also on the legal team representing Cheryl Perich, a teacher who successfully sought a judgment arguing that her religious employer had unlawfully fired her under federal antidiscrimination laws. See Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical v. EEOC, 565 U.S. 171 (2012). The Supreme Court ultimately sided in favor of the employer, finding that the ministerial exception to anti discrimination laws applies whenever an employer engages in hiring and firing of a “minister.” See id.

In 2013, AliKhan joined the D.C. Attorney General’s Office as Deputy Solicitor General. In this role, AliKhan was part of the legal team defending D.C.’s licensing requirements for tour guides within the city, which were struck down as violating the First Amendment. See Edwards v. District of Columbia, 755 F.3d 996 (D.C. Cir. 2014). Notably, AliKhan was part of the legal team defending against an unlawful arrest suit brought by partygoers who had been arrested for unlawful entry after being granted access by an individual who was not the property owner. See Wesby v. District of Columbia, 765 F.3d 13 (D.C. Cir. 2014). After the district court granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs and the D.C. Circuit affirmed 2-1, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed, finding that the arrests were supported by probable cause. See District of Columbia v. Wesby, 583 U.S. ___ (2018).

Additionally, as Deputy Solicitor General, AliKhan argued one case before the Supreme Court, arguing that a Title VII claim filed by a Department of Health code inspector was barred by the statute of limitations. See Artis v. District of Columbia, 583 U.S. ____ (2018). In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court reversed a lower court dismissal and found that a tolling provision in federal law benefited the plaintiff. See id.

In 2018, AliKhan became Solicitor General for the District of Columbia. In this role, AliKhan frequently joined other Democratic Attorneys General and Solicitors General in impact litigation around the country. Notably, AliKhan joined California in challenging a Texas suit seeking invalidation of the Affordable Care Act. See California v. Texas, 593 U.S. ___ (2021). The suit ended with a 7-2 Supreme Court ruling finding that Texas lacked standing to challenge the ACA individual mandate. See id.

Judicial Experience

Since her confirmation in 2022, AliKhan has served as a Judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals, overseeing appeals from the D.C. Superior Court. In her tenure on the court, AliKhan has, so far, authored ten opinions for the court. Of these opinions, all of which were unanimous, two involved challenges to criminal convictions. In one case, AliKhan affirmed the defendant’s conviction for first degree sexual abuse. In the other, AliKhan reversed convictions for second-degree murder and possession of a firearm due to the erroneous admission of testimony from a previous trial, finding error in the determination that the witness was unavailable.

An additional three cases involved professional misconduct by attorneys. In each case, AliKhan affirmed the finding of misconduct, although she reduced the penalty in one suit from a 90-day suspension to a 30-day suspension.

Two other cases involved family law. In one case, AliKhan affirmed a lower court award of sanctions against a father who filed frivolous adoption petitions for his children in Washington D.C. when a West Virginia court had already awarded custody to the mother. In the other, AliKhan reversed a lower court denial of a grandfather’s petition to intervene in a custody case involving his granddaughter, finding that the proper standard had not been applied.

The final three cases are civil in nature. In the first, AliKhan wrote for the court in ordering the dismissal of a judgment as moot. In the second, AliKhan affirmed a breach of contract judgment against a tenant but reversed the calculation of damages and sent the case back for recalculation. In the final case, AliKhan reversed a lower court decision finding that a rent contract failed to set adequately detailed price terms to be enforceable.

Overall Assessment

At 39, AliKhan has a significant record of legal achievements, including a Supreme Court argument. However, her involvement in a number of controversial cases, including Hosanna-Tabor and California v. Texas is likely to draw scrutiny. While AliKhan attracted the votes of seven Republicans the first time around, her second round is likely to be more contentious.


  1. I can’t imagine Delaney gets a vote. My guess is there’s a lot of respect for the NH Sens among their fellow Dems, so no one is saying it out loud, but I can’t see Hirono and Klobuchar voting for Delaney on the merits. And, as we all know, there’s no margin for a 2D defection on SJC. And there may be more than just those 2. If he ever got to the floor, Sanders might defect.

    Someone said on here that the Rs might put him over the top, since anyone else is likely to be more progressive, but that would mean he gets out of the SJC.

    I’ve been wrong before, but I’d be very surprised if he gets out of committee tomorrow.


  2. Just catching up with the news from last evening…
    There we have it, Manchin breaking the hearts of all the optimists who assumed he’d vote for Abudu.
    This is clearly the reason her and the other heavy hitters’ nominations weren’t voted on last year in a 50-50 senate, duh.

    Same for Dale Ho — what was it again: “No one’s going to vote against the nominee from the majority leader of their party.” As I was telling Frank yesterday, there’s no serious, if any, consequences for bucking your party in today’s senate.
    We have to stop being so naively optimistic all the time, because this makes you complacent. There’s no time for complacency in righting the courts.


    • Duckworth and Manchin are very different circumstances. Manchin is the senior senator from a deep red state, while Duckworth is the junior senator from a deep blue seat. See the difference? I actually am not a fan of how much emphasis is placed on seniority, but it isn’t changing anytime soon. Those other examples you point to had more influential or senior senators involved.


      • You are getting your threads confused. This comment isn’t about Duckworth and the Durbin giveaway, see that comment from yesterday. As Ryan pointed on (under that comment) Kamala Harris, the very junior senator at the time, went against her very senior senator and leader of Dems in SJC, by withholding her blue slips to seats in California. Address that now.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry about that, I thought I was responding to the other one for some reason. That’s a bit different of a comparison though since Harris was on the judiciary committee and as such had a outsized role in choosing judicial nominees for her own state compared to some other random junior senator. Duckworth isn’t and to my knowledge hasn’t been on the judiciary committee.


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