Judge Judith W. Rogers of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will take senior status in September, giving President Biden the opportunity to nominate a fourth judge to the influential court.
Rogers wrote opinions upholding the D.C. Metro’s rejection of religious advertising, allowing construction of the Purple Line and endorsing patients’ access to experimental drugs. (The opinion on experimental drugs was overturned by the full circuit.)
During battles between the Trump administration and Congress during impeachment proceedings, she found that lawmakers must have access to some grand jury evidence and the right to enforce subpoenas in court. Just this March, she ruled in favor of an L.A. Times bid for search warrant records from an investigation into stock sales by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), citing “the powerful public interest.”
In the past three years, three judicial assistants left her chambers, saying they were belittled and chastised by the judge, according to a Washington Post report last month. She did not respond to requests for comment on that story; former law clerks defended her as demanding but fair. After an employee survey of workplace conditions at the D.C. federal trial and appeals courts, court leaders this spring scheduled training, including for judges, although some have resisted.
The influential circuit court is often a steppingstone to the U.S. Supreme Court. Biden’s first nominee to the D.C. Circuit, Ketanji Brown Jackson, has already been confirmed to a seat on the nation’s highest court. Florence Pan, a judge on the D.C. District Court, has been nominated to fill Jackson’s appellate seat. Michelle Childs, a federal judge from South Carolina whom Biden also considered for the Supreme Court, is awaiting a Senate vote on her nomination to the D.C. Circuit. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved her nomination on a vote of 17-to-5 in May.