According to the U.S. Courts website and as just announced by the Federal Circuit itself, Federal Circuit Judge Evan J. Wallach will take senior status at the end of May, ending a nine-and-a-half year stint on the court. Notably, this will represent the court’s first judicial vacancy in six years, a relatively long span dating back prior to the Trump administration. Judge Wallach’s transition to senior status potentially provides the first of several vacancies for President Biden to fill. The Senate Judiciary Committee, now chaired by Senator Durbin, will likely play an important role in the selection and confirmation of Judge Wallach’s successor. For today, however, we highlight Judge Wallach’s service to the United States both prior to and after his appointment to the Federal Circuit.
As indicated on the Federal Circuit website, Judge Wallach “was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit by President Barack Obama in 2011, confirmed by the Senate on November 9, 2011, and assumed the duties of his office on November 18, 2011.” Prior to his appointment to the Federal Circuit, Judge Wallach “served for sixteen years as a judge of the United States Court of International Trade, having been appointed to that court by President William J. Clinton in 1995.”
Before his judicial service, Judge Wallach served on active duty in the Army, as General Counsel and Public Policy Advisor to Democratic Senator Harry Reid, as a Judge Advocate, and as an Attorney/Advisor in the International Affairs Division of the Judge Advocate of the Army at the Pentagon. Immediately prior to becoming a judge, he practiced law at Lionel Sawyer & Collins in Las Vegas, Nevada.
At the Federal Circuit, Judge Wallach has been known for his close attention to the content of legal briefs, with a particular emphasis at oral argument on ensuring accurate statements, arguments, and citations to authority and evidence. Indeed, following oral argument at the SMU Dedman School of Law in October, 2019, Judge Wallach said, “I read every brief at least twice, and sometimes three times.” If there’s a flaw or gap in the pleading, he explained, the court will surely spot it.
We will provide more coverage of Judge Wallach’s impending transition to senior status and reflect upon his time on the Federal Circuit. We also will keep track of developments related to any nominee that President Biden eventually puts forward to fill the vacancy.