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  • July 15, 2010

    President nominates Victoria Nourse to Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals

    Victoria NourseBy Adam Korbitz, Government Relations Coordinator, State Bar of Wisconsin

    July 15, 2010 – President Barack Obama has nominated University of Wisconsin Law School professor Victoria Nourse to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to replace Judge Terence T. Evans.

    “Throughout her career Victoria Nourse has shown a commitment to justice,” President Obama said in a statement announcing Nourse’s nomination.“I am proud to nominate her to serve on the United States Court of Appeals.”

    In January 2010, Nourse was one of four individuals that Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold forwarded to President Obama for his consideration in filling the seat on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals formerly held by Judge Evans, who has taken senior status.

    Kohl and Feingold narrowed a list of six names that the Federal Nominating Commission forwarded to them in November 2009 for the Seventh Circuit position.

    According to the White House, Nourse, 51, is currently the Burrus-Bascom Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School, which she joined in 1993. She has also taught at the Emory University Law School, the University of Maryland School of Law, Yale Law School, New York University School of Law, and Georgetown University Law Center.

    Nourse has written extensively on criminal law, legislation, constitutional history and the separation of powers. She also assisted then-Senator Joseph Biden in drafting the Violence Against Women Act, part of the Biden-Hatch Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Nourse received her B.A. in 1980 from Stanford University and her J.D. in 1984 from the University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law.

    The U.S. Senate must still confirm Nourse’s nomination. Both Senators Kohl and Feingold serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings on the president’s nominee.

    Commission membership and activities in 2009

    In August 2009, Kohl and Feingold activated the Federal Nominating Commission to fill the Seventh Circuit seat after Judge Evans announced that he would be taking senior status. In Sept. 2009, the commission issued a call for applications and 11 individuals applied. On Nov. 16, 2009, the commission released its list of six recommended candidates for that position.

    University of Wisconsin Law School Dean Kenneth Davis chaired the commission for the Seventh Circuit position.

    Pursuant to the commission’s charter, Kohl appointed four attorneys the commission in 2009: Stephen Glynn and Nathan Fishbach, both of Milwaukee, Christine Bremer Muggli, of Wausau, and Michelle Behnke, of Madison. Feingold also appointed four attorneys: Ken Calewarts of Green Bay, Chuck Curtis of Madison, Peg Lautenschlager of Fond du Lac, and Harvey Temkin of Madison.

    The commission was rounded out by attorneys Susan Hansen of Milwaukee and Thomas Sleik of La Crosse, both appointed by Diane Diel, who at the time of the appointments was serving as president of the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    The State Bar’s government relations team provided staff support for the commission.

    In addition to the Seventh Circuit seat, the commission in 2009 recommended candidates  for four other vacant federal positions subject to presidential appointment, including two judicial seats in the Western District of Wisconsin formerly held by Judge Barbara Crabb, who is taking senior status, and Judge John Shabaz, who has retired. The commission also recommended candidates for the U.S. attorney positions for both the Western and Eastern districts of Wisconsin.

    Commission history

    The Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission has been making recommendations to Wisconsin’s United States senators since 1979.

    According to Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, the president "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint" federal judges. The president also appoints United States attorneys. By tradition, the president defers to the recommendations of the home state’s U.S. senators for these positions.

    In 1979, Wisconsin’s two United States senators, William Proxmire and Gaylord Nelson, established the Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission, a tradition that has continued to the present day under Kohl and Feingold. Democratic and Republican senators have used the commission for every federal judicial and U.S. attorney vacancy in the past 30 years, under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

    Related articles:

    Kohl, Feingold forward four names to President Obama for Seventh Circuit- January 25, 2010
    Federal Nominating Commission concludes busy year  – Nov. 16, 2009
    Commission makes recommendations for United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit  – Nov. 16, 2009
    Federal Nominating Commission receives 11 applications for vacancy on Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit  – Sept. 29, 2009
    Federal Nominating Commission seeks applicants for vacancy on Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit  – Sept. 1, 2009
    Kohl, Feingold announce activation of Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission  – Aug. 6, 2009


    Rotunda Report is the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Government Relations e-newsletter that highlights legislative, judicial, and administrative developments that impact the legal profession and the justice system. It is published twice a month and is distributed free to attorneys, public officials and others who help shape public policy in Wisconsin. We invite your suggestions to make the Rotunda Report more informative and useful and we encourage you to visit our Web site for the most current information about justice-related issues.

    © 2010, State Bar of Wisconsin

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