In the days following Justice John Paul Stevens’ announcement in April that he would step down from the Supreme Court, the speculative “short list” of candidates to replace him steadily lengthened. But one name that was mentioned almost immediately was Judge Diane Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
At age 59, Judge Wood presently sits on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (nominated by President Clinton in 1995) and is a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago School of Law (where President Obama previously taught). She had been a top candidate for Justice Souter’s prior vacancy, and interviewed with President Obama before the position ultimately went to Judge (now Justice) Sotomayor.
Judge Wood graduated with high honors and Order of the Coif from the University of Texas School of Law in 1975. She clerked for Justice Harry Blackmun in 1976. If nominated and confirmed to the High Court, she would be the only seated Justice who did not attend Harvard or Yale law school.
Judge Wood is an expert on antitrust and trade law, and has authored several books and articles on those subjects. She has also written numerous articles on the topic of individual liberty, including a comprehensive review of Justice Blackmun’s constitutional jurisprudence on individual liberty and “the right to be let alone.”
- "Justice Blackmun and Individual Rights.” 97 Dickinson Law Review 421 (1993).
- “Sex Discrimination in Life and Law.” 1999 University of Chicago Legal Forum 1 (1999).
- “The Bedrock of Individual Rights in Times of Natural Disasters.” 51 Howard Law Journal 747 (2008).
- “Katrina and the Rule of Law in the Time of Crisis: Natural Disasters and the Rule of Law in the Time of Crisis: The Bedrock of Individual Rights in Times of Natural Disasters.” 51 Harvard Law Journal 747 (2008) (Wiley A. Branton/Howard Law Journal Symposium).
- “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress.” 70 University of Chicago Law Review 455 (2003).
- “Our 18th Century Constitution in the 21st Century World.” 80 New York University Law Review 1079 (2005).
Join us below the jump for some of Judge Wood’s notable opinions:
- Bayo v. Napolitano, 593 F.3d 495 (2010) Judge Wood authored an opinion which included an affirmation that a waiver of rights by an immigrant – even one who gains illegal entry into the United States through fraud – must be knowing and voluntary to constitute an effective waiver.
- Solid Waste Agency v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, 191 F.3d 845 (7th Cir. 1999). Writing for the panel, Judge Wood affirmed the respondent’s position that the Commerce Clause extended respondent’s jurisdiction over “the waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act to include waters that provide habitat for migratory birds (dubbed “the Migratory Bird Rule”). The Supreme Court subsequently reversed.
- United States v. Warner & Ryan, 498 F.3d 666 (7th Cir. 2007): Judge Wood, writing for the majority, affirmed the convictions of former Illinois Governor George H. Ryan, Sr., and his associate Lawrence E. Warner on various criminal corruption charges.
- Christian Legal Society v. Walker 453 F.3d 853 (7th Cir. 2006). In a dissenting opinion, Judge Wood wrote that she would have allowed a university to enforce its nondiscrimination policy against a Christian student group that barred from membership those who engaged in homosexual activity. She opined that taking away the school’s ability to enforce its nondiscrimination policy might undermine the freedom of the university to make its own judgments as to education – a compelling state interest that justified any possible infringement on the Christian group’s First Amendment rights. This case conflicted with the Ninth Circuit’s subsequent decision in Christian Legal Society v. Kane, 319 Fed. Appx. 645(9th Cir. 2009), prompting the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review of the latter case.
- Hope Clinic v. Ryan, 195 F.3d 857 (7th Cir. 1999). En banc court overturned broad injunction against enforcement of statutes prohibiting partial-birth abortions and directed lower court to enter more limited injunction. Judge Wood joined in a dissent by Chief Judge Richard Posner, finding that broad pre-enforcement injunction was permissible, and that statutes constituted an unreasonable burden on the right to abortion, and were void for vagueness. The decision was later vacated and remanded for reconsideration by the Supreme Court, 530 U.S. 1271 (2000), and the statutes were subsequently struck down by the Seventh Circuit, 249 F.3d 603 (7th Cir. 2001).
- NOW, Inc. v. Scheidler, 267 F.3d 687 (7th Cir. 2001). Writing for the majority, Judge Wood held that the civil remedies provision of the RICO statute authorized private plaintiffs to seek injunctive relief; that evidence established that pro-life protesters committed acts outside the First Amendment’s free speech protection which could be regulated; and that liability could constitutionally be imposed on individual members based on association with organization. The decision was later reversed by the Supreme Court, 537 U.S. 393 (2003).
- Toys “R” Us, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission, 221 F.3d 928 (7th Cir. 2000) – Writing for the majority, Judge Wood held that substantial evidence supported FTC’s conclusion that agreement between defendant and toy manufacturers was a per se violation of the antitrust laws, and that broad remedial decree was within Commission’s power to ensure that violations will cease and competition will be restored.
- Bloch v. Frischholz, 533 F.3d 562 (7th Cir. 2008) – Judge Wood dissented from a panel holding that condominium association rule prohibiting signs in halls and on doorways did not violate Fair Housing Act as applied to mezuzot placed on door frame by observant Jewish family. The case was later reheard en banc, and the plaintiffs’ action with respect to certain claims. 587 F.3d 771 (7th Cir. 2009).