The thousand-member Federal Judges Association has a new president, Ninth Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown, of San Diego. She enters the post at a time when the courts have struggled to maintain funding levels and warned that current sequestration measures imposed by Congress could hamper judicial services.
“The FJA recognizes that these are difficult times for the judiciary,” she said in a prepared statement. “Budget cuts, confirmation delays and judges leaivng the bench for financial reasons – all of these strain our judicial system,” she stated.
She took over Wednesday, succeeding U.S. District Judge W. Royal Furgeson, Jr. of Dallas.
The FJA advocates for court funding and encourages Congress to fill judicial vacancies in a timely fashion as well as conducting public education programs about the independence of the judicary.
The FJA has drawn attention to the current 10 percent vacancy rate on the federal bench, or roughly 90 of the 874 seats on federal and circuit courts.
President Bill Clinton nominated McKeown in 1998. Prior to joining the federal bench she was in private practice with Perkins Coie in Seattle and Washington, D.C. and served as a White House fellow.
She has been a member of the FJA Board of Directors since 2007.
As president she will serve a two-year term.