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Michelle Friedland Confirmed to 9th Circuit Bench, Full Complement Achieved

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on April 30, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Ninth Circuit is one of the busiest circuits in the nation, with "over 1,470 pending appeals per panel," which is "two and a half times the average of other circuits," Senator Dianne Feinstein stated in her remarks for the Congressional record. In this context, Dianne Feinstein argued for Michelle Friedland's confirmation to the Ninth Circuit bench.

Despite conservatives' reservations with her previous work supporting gay rights, on Monday, Michelle Friedland was confirmed by a vote of 51-40, with only one Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, crossing party lines, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Some would say this comes almost one-year too late, as President Obama originally nominated Michelle Friedland on August 1, 2013, "but the Senate failed to act," according to Courthouse News Service.

Let's take a look at Michelle Friedland's career so far.


Michelle Friedland received her Bachelor of Arts, and Juris Doctor, from Stanford University. She received the distinctive Fulbright Scholarship, was second in her law school class, and a member of Order of the Coif. After law school, she clerked for circuit court Judge David Tatel, of the D.C. Circuit, and then for then-Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (who attended Friedland's confirmation hearing in show of support).


Currently, Friedland is a partner at Munger Tolles & Olsen, and has worked on a variety of cases ranging from intellectual property, tax, antitrust and criminal defense, among others. In her pro bono work, she has worked with Equality California and was involved in legal challenges to California's same-sex marriage ban and California's law banning gay conversion therapy for minors. It is this work that prompted the "conservative Committee for Justice" to urge the "Senate to vote against Friedland, calling her record in the gay rights cases 'disturbing' and 'intolerant,'" reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Full Complement

In 1984 Congress authorized an expansion of judgeships to 28, and in 2009 expanded it to 29. However, since 1992, there has always been one vacancy on the Ninth Circuit, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. With the confirmation of Friedland, the Ninth Circuit has reached full complement.

Congratulations to Michelle Friedland on becoming the newest member of the Ninth Circuit bench.

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