When Judge David S. Tatel informed President Biden of his plan to step back from the federal bench this year, he closed his letter on a personal note: “My guide dog, Vixen, is pleased to know that First Dogs Champ and Major are also German Shepherds.”
In nearly three decades on the appeals court in Washington, Tatel’s lack of eyesight has never defined him. But his blindness — and more recently the attentive German shepherd at his side — is now woven into the culture of the courthouse where Tatel has been at the epicenter of consequential cases affecting major aspects of American life.
The latest formal portrait of the court’s black-robed judges features Vixen in the front row.
Geoffrey Stone, a professor and former dean of the University of Chicago Law School, said Tatel’s opinion “captured perfectly the reasons why the act was constitutional, why it was sensible and why we as a nation needed it.”
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