June 30, 2014 is Judge Rader’s final day on the bench. Judge Rader has – and I suspect will remain – a lightning rod for both criticism and support. What I love is that his continued focus is on the law and what we can do to improve its function. Judge Rader forwarded the following letter to his Federal Circuit colleagues and gave me permission to distribute its contents to Patently-O readers.
My Dear Colleagues (for the last time I presume to call you “colleagues”),
Over three and a half decades ago, I sat across from Howard Markey, Chief Judge of the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, in my Senate Judiciary Committee office. In a meeting I recall with stunning clarity, he showed me the vision of a court dedicated to the uniformity, consistency, and strength of vital areas of commercial law to be entrusted to the new Federal Circuit. Inspired by his dreams, I set out to work vigorously for the enactment of the Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1981. To this day, I regret that I allowed judges from the Ninth Circuit to dissuade me from offering an amendment to include copyright and trademark cases within the jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit. To this day, however, I rejoice that I obeyed Chief Judge Markey’s request that I hear cases every month without a break as a circuit judge.
Less than a decade after that first meeting with Chief Judge Markey, after two years as a trial judge, I took a seat on the court that I had helped to create. You can imagine my feelings of awe as I took a seat on the bench beside the legends, Howard Markey, Giles Rich, and Daniel Friedman. As the years passed, I delighted to recount both in my own private deliberations and in public events the great wisdom I absorbed from those masters of the judicial office.
Time flies on wings of lightning. Before you can comprehend, many of you will be delighted to recount both in your own private deliberations and in public events the great wisdom you absorbed at the feet of the legends, Polly Newman, Alan Lourie, and Bill Bryson. Yet another page will turn and some of our current law clerks and interns will occupy judge’s chairs and recount both in their own private deliberations and in public events the great wisdom of the legends, Evan Wallach, Ray Chen, and Todd Hughes.
With the passing of each judicial generation, I hope that the Federal Circuit perpetually renews Markey’ s vision of a judicial institution unlike any other in the world. To no other court does a nation, let alone the most powerful economic nation in the world, entrust legal decisions that shape world trade, innovation, and core commercial policies. Yet I can vigorously attest that this vast responsibility could not rest in more secure and capable hands. At some distant point in the future, I hope to sit again across from Howard Markey; I will assure him that his vision has been realized. . . and sustained!
Now in a few minutes, I will start my car and ascend the ramp to H Street for the last time. At the top of the ramp, I will step out of my car for a moment to embrace my law clerks. With that embrace, I wish to symbolically embrace and commend the greatest bar in the world. No practicing lawyers anywhere in the world contribute more to the competent jurisprudence of their court than the lawyers who make up the Federal Circuit bar. Just as legendary judges pass perpetually the torch to new judges, so too Don Dunner, Bill Lee, Seth Waxman and others have set standards of excellence that will be matched by newer attorneys who will become themselves legends of reason and persuasion.
Then, there at the top of the ramp, I will slap a “high five” to the security officers on duty at the gate. With that salute, I wish to symbolically honor and recognize the entire staff of the Federal Circuit — the Administrative Services personnel under Dale Bosley, the Technical officers under Mona Harrington, the Library staff under Pat McDermott, the General Counsels under Doug Steere, the Clerk’s office and the entire staff led so marvelously by Circuit Executive Admiral Dan O’Toole. No court staff anywhere can exceed these incomparable professionals who, as much as any judge, have contributed to the superb reputation that the Federal Circuit will carry into coming decades.
With eyes misted over with magnificent memories, I will then turn my gaze to the horizon. I will hope to find new ways to contribute to the uniformity, efficiency, and predictability of the law. No matter what opportunities I receive in my next legal “life,” I know that no honor can ever exceed the opportunity that I had to contribute to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Thank you, brothers and sisters, for the vast honor of sitting at your side. God save this honorable court!
Your friend for life, rrr