Friedland gets Senate OK to seat on 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Court handles federal appeals of Pleasantoon, Tri-Valley cases

The Senate Monday confirmed the nomination of Michelle T. Friedland to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein couldn't be happier.

"Michelle Friedland will be an excellent addition to the Ninth Circuit, and I am very pleased the Senate confirmed her today," Feinstein said. "Friedland's confirmation means the Ninth Circuit, by some measures the busiest circuit court in the country, for the first time has its full complement of 29 active judges."

The Ninth Circuit covers Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley in terms of federal court appeals

Friedland is currently a partner at the law firm Munger, Tolles, & Olsen. She worked as a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School from 2002 to 2004. She served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor from 2001 to 2002, and for Judge David Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 2000 to 2001.

She earned her B.A. with distinction from Stanford in 1994, received a Fulbright Scholarship, and earned her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2000, graduating second in her class. She earned a rating of "well qualified" from the American Bar Association, the highest rating the ABA gives.

Feinstein said that when she was first elected to the Senate in 1992, it was called by some the "year of the woman."

"Senator (Barbara) Boxer and I were both elected that year, as were Senator Patty Murray and former Senator Carol Moseley Braun." she said. "

Yet after we were all sworn in, there were still only six women in the Senate. I became the first woman ever to sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, after some very divisive hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas, in which the lack of women on the Judiciary Committee became an issue."

Feinstein said that at the time, the Federal courts were mainly the province of men appointed by the two most recent presidents. About 92% of President Reagan's confirmed judicial nominees were men. That number fell under President George H.W. Bush, but only to 81%. Overall, only 12.6% of active federal judges were women when I was sworn in to the Senate.

Although women have been close to half of all law students for decades, even today only 53 of 164 active circuit judges, or 32%, are women.

Right now, Feinstein said, there are female nominees for the Third, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits pending in the Senate, a total of six nominees, with four simply waiting for a floor vote. To put these numbers in perspective, there were only six women confirmed to the circuit courts during all eight years of the Reagan Administration.

"If all six of these pending nominees are confirmed, the number of active female circuit judges would grow by over 11%," Feinstein said. "That is a big deal, and it is a real opportunity to increase significantly the number of women on the circuit courts."


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