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Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Wood to Take Senior Status (3)

Dec. 10, 2021, 6:54 PMUpdated: Dec. 10, 2021, 11:28 PM

Judge Diane Wood became the second member of the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit this month to announce plans to take senior status.

Wood, 71, notified the court of her plans on Thursday, according to the U.S. Courts judicial vacancy site. She was nominated by Bill Clinton in 1995 and served as chief judge from 2013 to 2020.

Wood’s decision to scale back her duties and give Joe Biden another seat to fill on the Seventh Circuit was made public eight days after her colleague, Judge David Hamilton, announced that he, too, would take senior status. Hamilton was Barack Obama’s first judicial nominee and has served on the Seventh Circuit since 2009.

Judges who take senior status remain involved in fewer cases, while relinquishing their active roles and opening their seat for presidential appointment.

Wood’s decision “allows the tribunal to keep her valuable experience” while giving Biden an opportunity to “tap and confirm” another well qualified, diverse candidate, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at University of Richmond who follows judicial nominations.

Biden has so far put forward judicial nominees with more varied backgrounds, including public defenders and civil rights lawyers. Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, a Biden nominee confirmed in June, is the only person of color on the Seventh Circuit, and hails from the defender ranks.

Wood clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun and Fifth Circuit Judge Irving Goldberg before stints at the State Department and Justice Department. She also taught at Georgetown and the University of Chicago law schools.

Wood was reportedly considered by Obama as a potential Supreme Court nominee to replace Justices David Souter and John Paul Stevens.

The Seventh Circuit covers Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

judge Richard Young of the Southern District of Indiana also this year announced plans to take senior status, another trial court spot for Biden to fill.

—With assistance from Madison Alder

(Adds detail on Hamilton appointment, tenure.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Heelan in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at; John Crawley at