Chief Judge Prost took over as Chief at the end of May 2014 just after Judge Rader stepped-down from the position. The position lasts for seven years and that date is approaching in May 2021. In addition, the statute prohibits a judge from being Chief Judge once they turn 70 years old. Judge Prost is also turning 70 toward the end of May 2021. 28 U.S.C. 45. Thus, we’ll have a new Chief Judge within the next 7 weeks or so.
The next chief is defined by statute:
(1) The chief judge of the circuit shall be the circuit judge in regular active service who is senior in commission of those judges who—
(A) are sixty-four years of age or under;
(B) have served for one year or more as a circuit judge; and
(C) have not served previously as chief judge.
Judge Moore is the most senior active judge that satisfies the three statutory requirements and thus is the chief-apparent. Judges Newman, Lourie, and Dyk are the three most-senior active judges. However, they are all over the age of 64 and thus do not qualify to become the next Chief Judge. Judge O’Malley is next in line following Judge Moore, but turns 65 in November 2021. Assuming that Judge Moore takes to the role and remains Chief Judge for her full 7 year term, the next Judge on deck will be Judge Chen in 2028. Since all of the current Judges are >50 years old, none would be eligible for the subsequent go-round in 14 years.
* I also apologize for openly discussing ages of these humans in such an uncouth way, but it is required by the statute.