Ninth Circuit has Full Set of Judges for First Time in 22 Years

Thursday, May 01, 2014
Michelle Friedland

The nation’s largest federal appellate court has a full complement of judges for the first time in 22 years. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is supposed to have 29 judges, but has had at least one vacancy since 1992.


Getting judges appointed to the federal bench has been problematic in recent years, as nominations have been caught in partisan fighting in Washington. But last November, Democrats altered the rules of the U.S. Senate to make it easier to bring up confirmation votes for judges by making a simple majority enough to stop filibusters against judicial nominations.


One of those benefiting from the rule change was Michelle Friedland, who was nominated last August to fill the last empty seat on the Ninth Circuit, which handles federal appeals from Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.


Friedland, a San Francisco attorney with Munger Tolles & Olson, was approved by the Senate on a mostly party-line vote, 51-40, with only one Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine, supporting her.


A graduate of Stanford University and its law school, Friedland was a Fulbright scholar at Oxford University before clerking for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She taught law at Stanford before joining Munger, Tolles and Olson in 2004.

In addition to handling business cases for her firm, Friedland represented Equality California, a gay-rights group that challenged the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and that defended a state statute outlawing conversion therapy aimed at turning gay youths into heterosexuals.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Michelle Friedland of S.F. Confirmed for 9th Circuit Court (by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle)

Ninth Circuit Bench Full at Last (Courthouse News Service)

Michelle T. Friedland (Munger Tolles & Olson)

Ninth Circuit in the News (AllGov)


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