For the first time since the nation’s largest appeals court increased to 29 judgeships in 2009, it will have every vacancy filled with Monday’s confirmation of Michelle Friedland to serve on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Friedland on a 51-40 vote. She was first nominated by President Obama in August 2013, but the Senate failed to act prior to the end of its last session.
Obama renominated her in January to fill the seat of Judge Raymond Fisher of Pasadena, who assumed senior status.
Friedland will be based in San Francisco.
The 9th Circuit is the largest of the nation’s circuit courts, both by geography and population. It also has the largest volume of appeals. It includes nine western states and the territory of Guam.
Congress expanded the number of judgeships in the circuit to 28 in 1984 and added the 29th seat in 2009.
Between retirements and judges taking senior status on the court and delays in confirmations in recent years, the court has rarely had its full 28 judges. The last time the court was at full strength was 1992. It has never had a full complement of 29.
Friedland, 41, is the fourth youngest appointees to the court of appeals. The only three judges who were younger were Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, appointed at age 35 in 1985 by President Reagan; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, appointed at age 38 in 1975 by President Ford, Judge Mary Schroeder, appointed at age 38 in 1979 by President Carter.
Friedland joins the bench from a private litigation practice at San Francisco’s Munger, Tolles & Olson, which she began in 2010. [She’s the third Obama appointee to come from the Munger Tolles law firm.
Her practice focused primarily on antitrust litigation, appellate practice and constitutional and academic affairs litigation for colleges and universities.
She clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor from 2001 to 2002 and for Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2000 to 2001.
Friedland was born in Berkeley and received her law degree from StanfordLawSchool in 2000, second in her class. She studied at OxfordUniversity on a Fulbright Scholarship and received an undergraduate degree from StanfordUniversity.