Federal Circuit Judicial Watch

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is a twelve member court, but that membership has been undergoing major changes over the past few years.

Most recently, Judge Arthur J. Gajarsa has announced his plan to step away from active service and assume senior status at the end of this week. Judge Gajarsa's absence creates a second open seat on the court. Although Edward DuMont has been nominated to fill the other open seat (vacated by Chief Judge Paul Michel, it appears likely that DuMont's nomination will not move forward at this point. Earlier this year, Judge Jimmie V. Reyna was confirmed by the Senate. The court has typically been seen as only lightly-partisan according to traditional Republican-Democratic lines, however it is interesting to note that Judge Reyna's confirmation marks the first time in history that the majority of active judges on the court were nominated by a Democratic President. Judge Kathleen O'Malley also joined the court on December 27, 2010.

With the recent passing of Judges Archer and Friedman, the court only includes four senior status judges: Judges Mayer, Plager, Clevenger, and Schall. As mentioned, Judge Gajarsa will soon join the senior status ranks. In 2011, senior judges have participated in over 20% of Federal Circuit panel decisions. Judges Newman, Lourie, Bryson, and Dyk are all eligible for Senior Status and Judge Linn will be eligible on his next birthday. Although none of those five have publicly announced any intent to step down, many expect at least two more lines to open-up during the next year.

The current Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit is Randall Rader. The position of Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit is given to the most senior active member of the court who is less than 65 years old and who has not previously been Chief Judge. The term is seven years. If Judge Rader serves-out his entire seven year term, then the next Chief Judge will be Judge Kimberly Moore. If, however, he resigns at least a year early, then Judge Sharon Prost would take on the post at age 64.

Thanks also to Hal Wegner of Foley & Lardner who has been keeping tabs on the Court.