Judge David Tatel, '66, to Take Senior Status

DC Circuit Judge David Tatel to Take Senior Status, Handing Biden 2nd Vacancy

Tatel's semiretirement and Judge Merrick Garland's expected confirmation as attorney general provides President Joe Biden with the opportunity to fill two seats on the influential appeals court early in his term.

Judge David Tatel, a steady and influential voice on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, will take senior status, he said Thursday.

Tatel, 78, was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994 to fill the vacancy on the influential appeals court created by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court confirmation. His semiretirement will now allow President Joe Biden to fill two seats on the D.C. Circuit, as Judge Merrick Garland is expected to be confirmed next month as attorney general.

Tatel sent his letter to Biden informing the president of the decision on Thursday evening, according to a court official.

This latest announcement will give Biden an opportunity to quickly make a mark on the D.C. appellate court, often referred to the second-most important court after the Supreme Court. President Donald Trump appointed three judges to the court, and President Barack Obama tapped four judges for the circuit.

With Tatel taking senior status and Garland’s imminent departure, Judge Judith Rogers will remain the only active judge at the D.C. Circuit appointed by Clinton.


Hear Judge Tatel reflect on his formative 1L year in his Chicago Law Moment interview.

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