Thursday, November 30, 2006

Chief Judge William Wilkins Takes Senior Status

My sources report that today Chief Judge William Wilkins sent a letter to President Bush announcing that he will take senior status effective July 1, 2007. Judge Karen Williams will become the next Chief Judge of the Fourth Circuit.

This could mark a major change in the circuit court that many observers regard as the most conservative. Right now, the Fourth Circuit is divided as follows:

Conservative: Chief Judge William W. Wilkins, Judge H. Emory Widener, Jr., Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, Judge Karen J. Williams, Judge Dennis W. Shedd.

Moderate: Judge William B. Traxler, Jr. (leans right), Judge Allyson K. Duncan (leans left)

Liberal: Judge M. Blane Michael, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz, Judge Robert B. King, Judge Roger L. Gregory.

Labels are difficult, depending on the issue. For example, with "tough on crime" issues, one could easily put Judges King and Traxler (both former prosecutors) with the conservative judges. And Nixon appointee Judge Emory Widener is known to march to the beat of his own drummer, especially in the last few years. But, the above is about the best we can do as a general matter.

With Wilkins stepping down, the core conservatives on the Fourth Circuit are left with 4 solid votes.

Beginning July 1, 2007, there will be five vacancies on the Fourth Circuit. Depending on how those seats are filled, the Fourth Circuit could be very different in the years to come.


Anonymous said...

Do you have any ideas/guesses/conjecture re who might be nominated?

Anonymous said...

Any ideas/thoughts/speculation as to who might be nominated?

Anonymous said...

I think John Blume should be nominated. He certainly has spent a lot of time there!!

Anonymous said...

Richland County Circuit Court Judge Casey Manning would be a good choice.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say that Duncan leans left. I think she leans right. (As someone who works on the 4th and has seen her in action).

Judge Widener though somewhat idiosyncratic on some issues is very conservative. It is a close call as to who is most conservative on that court, him or JHW.

william said...

I not sure I agree about Duncan. I've heard from some clerks familiar with the Fourth that she is pretty sure bet to line up with Motz, Michael, and Gregory on many issues.

Anonymous said...

I have heard that Magistrate Judge Brucie Hendricks is interested in the district judge position. Any word on her chances?

Anonymous said...

From what I've read and heard, neither Widener nor JHW is the most conservative judge on the 4th Circuit: Karen Williams is.

Anonymous said...

I have heard rumors that Margaret B. Seymour might be considered for the 4th C. First black woman on the SC district court. Any truth?

Isn't Floyd a former usc roommate of Sen. Graham (R-SC)? Is that why he might get the Wilkins slot? Didn't he recently rule on a terrorism case?