Press Releases

Confirmation fills final remaining vacancy on court

Washington—The Senate today confirmed the nomination of Michelle T. Friedland to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“Michelle Friedland will be an excellent addition to the Ninth Circuit, and I am very pleased the Senate confirmed her today,” said Senator Feinstein. “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.”

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.

On April 10, 2014, Senator Feinstein entered the following remarks into the Congressional Record regarding Friedland’s nomination:

“This nomination was approved in the Judiciary Committee on a strong bipartisan vote of 14 to 3, including support from four Republican members: Ranking Member Grassley, and Senators Hatch, Graham, and Flake. She has earned the American Bar Association’s highest rating of “well qualified.”

If she is confirmed, which I very much hope she is, it would mark the first time ever that the Ninth Circuit, the busiest circuit in the country by some measures, has its full complement of 29 active circuit judges.

Michelle Friedland earned her Bachelor’s Degree, with honors and distinction, from Stanford University in 1994. She was Phi Beta Kappa, and became a Fulbright Scholar from 1995 to 1996, studying at Oxford.

She earned her law degree from Stanford Law School in 2000, where she was second in her class, graduated with distinction, and inducted into the Order of the Coif.

She then had two prestigious clerkships. The first was with Judge David Tatel on the D.C. Circuit.

She then clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who attended Ms. Friedland’s confirmation hearing this past November.

Though I could not attend that hearing, it said a great deal that Justice O’Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court and a voice of great moderation and pragmatism on the Court, came to the Judiciary Committee and demonstrated her support in person for this nominee.

Ms. Friedland then served as a lecturer at Stanford Law School from 2002 to 2004, and subsequently joined the law firm Munger Tolles & Olsen, where she is now a partner.

She has represented major clients, including Berkshire Hathaway, Boeing, Abbott Laboratories, the University of California, and Solvay Pharmaceuticals. She has worked on issues including criminal defense, class action defense, tax, patent, copyright, and antitrust.

She has also done pro bono work, devoting time, for example, to the Silicon Valley Campaign for Legal Services and Equality California.

She has won the President’s Pro Bono Service Award and the Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services, both from the State Bar of California.

She also has broad support in the legal community. One letter came from 27 individuals who clerked on the Supreme Court – including for Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas – when Ms. Friedland clerked for Justice O’Connor. They said that Friedland is “respectful of colleagues, fair-minded to attorneys and litigants, and sharp as a tack.”

A second letter is from Kathryn Haun, who previously served in the Justice Department under Attorney General Mukasey and in the National Security Division. Today she is a federal prosecutor in Northern California.

Ms. Haun has known Michelle Friedland since they were classmates in the same small section at Stanford Law School. Ms. Haun’s letter says, and I quote:

“I clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, am a member of the Federalist Society, and have always been a registered Republican. Notwithstanding our political differences, I believe [Michelle Friedland] would make an outstanding federal appellate judge if confirmed. This is because Michelle has a deep respect for legal precedent above seeking a particular result in a given case.”

A third letter is from the General Counsels of Cisco, Edison International, Google, Facebook, Rambus, and other companies. It speaks very highly of this nominee, and says, quote: “All parties appearing before her, from individual litigants to small businesses to the nation’s largest corporations, would be confident that she will adjudge their cases fairly and in accordance with the law.”

The Ninth Circuit is also the busiest circuit. It has over 1,470 pending appeals per panel. This is two and a half times the average of the other circuits.

It comes as no surprise, then, that it takes much longer to resolve an appeal in the Ninth Circuit than in the other circuits. Specifically, the Ninth Circuit takes 13.3 months to resolve an appeal. This is down from 17.4 months in 2011, but it is still 55 percent greater than the average in the other circuits.

Thus, it is very important for businesses, individuals, and others in all states in the Ninth Circuit that nominees to this court are promptly taken up and confirmed.

I will conclude by remarking upon what I see as a real opportunity for the Senate in the coming months.

When I was first elected to the Senate in 1992, it was called by some the “year of the woman.” Senator Boxer and I were both elected that year, as were Senator Murray and former Senator Carol Moseley Braun.

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.

At the time, the Federal courts were mainly the province of men appointed by the two most recent Presidents.

About 92 percent of President Reagan’s confirmed judicial nominees were men. That number fell under President George H.W. Bush, but only to 81 percent. Overall, only 12.6 percent 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 percent – are women.

Right now, 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 percent. That is a big deal, and it is a real opportunity to increase significantly the number of women on the circuit courts.

Michelle Friedland is well qualified, she has bipartisan support, and her confirmation would give the Ninth Circuit – the busiest circuit – a full complement of 29 judges for the first time. I urge my colleagues to support her.”