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Patricia Ann Millett


Patricia Ann Millett

Patricia Millett
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Assumed office
December 10, 2013
Appointed by Barack Obama
Preceded by John Roberts
Personal details
Born September 1963 (age 51)
Dexter, Maine, U.S.
Alma mater University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Harvard University

Patricia Ann Millett (born September 1963) is a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She formerly headed the Supreme Court practice at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Millett also was a longtime former assistant to the United States Solicitor General and served as an occasional blogger for SCOTUSblog. At the time of her confirmation to the D.C. Circuit, she had argued 32 cases before the United States Supreme Court.[1]

Millett's 2013 nomination to the D.C. Circuit, along with the nominations of Robert L. Wilkins and Nina Pillard, ultimately became central to the debate over the use of the filibuster in the United States Senate, leading to the use of the nuclear option to bring it to the floor for a vote.

Early life and education

Millett was born in 1963 in Dexter, Maine to a family with Mainer roots stretching to the Revolutionary War.[2] She earned a bachelor's degree in political science summa cum laude from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1985. She then earned a law degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1988.[1]

Professional career

Millett began her legal career by working from 1988 until 1990 in the litigation department of the Washington, D.C. law firm Miller & Chevalier. She then worked from 1990 until 1992 as a law clerk for Judge Thomas Tang on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[1]

From 1992 until 1996, Millett worked for four years for the United States Department of Justice Civil Division's appellate staff, briefing and arguing more than 20 cases before federal appeals courts and occasionally state appeals courts.[1]

In August 1996, Millett became an assistant to the United States Solicitor General, a position she held until September 2007. During that time, Millett argued 25 cases before the United States Supreme Court and briefed more than 50 cases.[1]

In 2007, Millett joined the Washington, D.C. law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, co-chairing the firm's Supreme Court practice along with Tom Goldstein.[1]

In October 2007, Millett began blogging at SCOTUSblog.[3]

Federal judicial service

Consideration for Fourth Circuit

In February 2009, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, along with Virginia state senator John S. Edwards, Virginia Supreme Court Justice Barbara Milano Keenan, University of Virginia School of Law professor James Ryan and former Virginia Supreme Court Justice John Thomas.[4] At that time, the Fourth Circuit had four judicial vacancies, one of which was a seat generally thought to belong to Virginia, and all five candidates were among a larger group of individuals who had proactively submitted their information to the VBA and ostensibly hoped to be considered for a nomination to the Fourth Circuit by President Barack Obama.

On February 26, 2009, the Virginia State Bar separately deemed Millett to be "highly qualified" for the vacancy, along with Edwards, Keenan, and attorney Richard A. Simpson.[5] Keenan was nominated by President Obama to fill the vacancy on September 14, 2009, confirmed by the Senate on February 26, 2010 and sworn-in on March 9, 2010.

Consideration for D.C. Circuit

President Barack Obama delivers a statement announcing the nomination of Robert L. Wilkins, Nina Pillard, and Patricia Millett

On May 27, 2013, the New York Times reported that President Obama was considering nominating Millett to one of three vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.[6]

On June 4, 2013, Obama nominated Millett to serve as a United States Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to the seat vacated by Judge John Roberts, who was elevated to the United States Supreme Court on September 25, 2005. The United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary held hearing on her nomination on July 10, 2013,[7] and reported her nomination to the floor on August 1, 2013, by a vote of 10 ayes to 8 nays, entirely along party lines.[8]

On October 28, 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid motioned to invoke cloture on Millett's nomination.[9] On October 31, 2013, the motion to invoke cloture was rejected 55-38, with 3 senators voting "present."[10]

On November 21, 2013, the motion to invoke cloture was again rejected, 57-40 with 3 senators voting "present." A motion to reconsider the motion to invoke cloture was held shortly thereafter and passed 57-43. Senator Reid then requested a ruling from the presiding officer regarding the filibuster of judicial nominees. The President pro tempore ruled that the Senate required 60 votes to cut off a filibuster and move to a final vote. Senator Reid appealed that ruling and the Senate began voting on whether the President pro tempore's ruling should stand, setting up a vote on what is colloquially known as the "nuclear option." The ruling was not sustained in a 48-52 vote. As a result of that vote, the President pro tempore ruled that as of November 21, 2013, the threshold for invoking cloture on all executive branch nominees, and all district and circuit court nominees would be a simple majority of senators present and voting. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, immediately requested an appeal of that ruling; that appeal failed 52-48. The Senate then began voting on the motion to invoke cloture under the new majority-vote threshold. Cloture was subsequently invoked on a 55-43 vote with 2 senators voting "present."[11]

On December 10, 2013, the Senate confirmed Millett in a 56-38 vote.[12] She received her commission the same day.

Personal life

Millett and her husband, Robert King, reside in Alexandria, Virginia.[4] She is active in Aldersgate United Methodist Church and has a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, according to her answers to a questionnaire for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.[13]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Patricia Ann Millett". Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Retrieved 2013-05-30. 
  2. ^ "Senate Judiciary Committee Nomination Questionnaire" (PDF). Senate Judiciary Committee. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  3. ^ "Welcome Pattie Millett". SCOTUSblog. 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  4. ^ a b "Bar Association Recommends Akin Gump's Millett for 4th Circuit". The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times. 2009-02-25. Retrieved 2013-05-28. 
  5. ^ "Akin Gump, Wiley Rein Lawyers ‘Highly Qualified’ for 4th Circuit". The BLT: The BLog of Legal Times. 2009-02-27. 
  6. ^ Shear, Michael D. (May 27, 2013). "Obama Plans 3 Nominations for Key Court". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ Kapur, Sahil (2013-06-17). "Senate Dems Schedule Hearing For D.C. Circuit Nominee Patricia Millett". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  8. ^ McCarter, Joan (August 1, 2013). "D.C. Circuit nominee, Patricia Millett, clears committee, likely faces filibuster". Daily Kos. 
  9. ^ "Cloture filed on 6 nominations-Estevez, Archuleta, Wheeler, Lew, Watt, and Millett". US Senate Democrats. October 28, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  10. ^ "On the Cloture Motion (Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Nomination of Patricia Ann Millett, of Virginia, to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit )". U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home. 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  11. ^ Jeremy Peters (November 21, 2013). "Landmark Senate Vote Limits Filibusters". New York Times. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Millett-Senate-Questionnaire". United States Senate Judiciary Committee. Retrieved 2013-10-30. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Roberts
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
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