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Federal Judges Are Retiring Now That Joe Biden Will Pick Their Replacements

Jennifer Bendery
·2-min read
Some federal judges waited for President Joe Biden to take office to announce their retirements, knowing he would pick their replacements instead of former President Donald Trump. (The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Some federal judges waited for President Joe Biden to take office to announce their retirements, knowing he would pick their replacements instead of former President Donald Trump. (The Washington Post via Getty Images)

For at least one federal judge, it appeared that President Joe Biden couldn’t be sworn in fast enough.

“It has been my honor to serve,” U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts wrote to Biden on Inauguration Day, roughly 90 minutes after he took office, announcing her plans to step down. “With respect, I congratulate you on your election as the 46th President of the United States, and Kamala Harris on her election as Vice President.”

Roberts, who has been a judge on the Eastern District Court of Michigan since 1998, announced she would be taking senior status — or begin semi-retirement — on Feb. 24. That opens up a new court vacancy for Biden to fill.

Here’s a copy of Roberts’ letter:

Roberts is one of five federal judges with lifetime appointments who have announced plans to retire or semi-retire since last Wednesday, the day Donald Trump left the White House, according to data provided by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. That’s after eight judges had already announced their plans to step down since Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election.

The retirements keep coming. On Tuesday, two more U.S. district judges announced their plans to take senior status, though their names aren’t yet listed on the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts’ website. And there are likely others in the queue with similar plans.

While judges may, of course, have personal reasons for retiring or semi-retiring at the beginning of Biden’s presidency, it’s safe to say, for the most part, that the timing of these judges’ departures isn’t coincidental: They wanted Biden to pick their replacements, not Trump.

“Congratulations on becoming our new president,” U.S. District Judge William Alsup wrote to Biden a day after he was inaugurated. “I feel it is time now for me to ‘go senior.’”

Here’s a copy of Alsup’s letter:

In total, eight of these retiring judges were appointed by President Bill Clinton, and two were...

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