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4th Circuit judge to maintain active standing, eliminating vacancy for Biden

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  • U.S. Circuit Judge Robert King backtracked on plans to take senior standing
  • Expert calls reversal “unusual” however not unprecedented

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(Reuters) – U.S. Circuit Judge Robert King on Wednesday advised the White House he had modified his thoughts about stepping down from active service on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, eliminating a vacancy President Joe Biden might fill.

King, an appointee of former Democratic President Bill Clinton who has served on the Richmond, Virginia-based appeals courtroom since 1998, stated in August he would take senior standing on the affirmation of a successor.

But in a letter reviewed by Reuters, King, 81, suggested Biden that, “after careful consideration, I have decided to continue for the foreseeable future in regular active service” and would withdraw his earlier Aug. 23 letter to the White House.

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“I apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused,” King wrote.

It was unclear why King modified his plans. A clerk for the West Virginia judge confirmed he was now not planning to take senior standing however had no additional remark. King didn’t reply to a request for remark.

The 4th Circuit hears appeals from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The courtroom has 9 active Democrat-appointed judges, together with King, and 6 Republican-appointed judges.

Biden has nominated only one judge to date to the courtroom, Toby Heytens, whom the Senate confirmed in November.

King’s letter indicated he despatched copies to West Virginia’s Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito. Senators are sometimes concerned in recommending judicial nominees to fill vacancies of their states.

Representatives for Manchin and Capito didn’t reply to requests for remark.

John Collins, a legislation professor at George Washington University who research the judiciary, stated the choice by a judge to reverse course on taking senior standing is “not unprecedented, but it is unusual.”

He stated it was attainable a difficulty emerged along with his substitute, one thing that occurred in 2018 when U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Kanne of the seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals equally modified his plans.

Kanne had deliberate to take senior standing contingent on an ex-clerk, Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher, being nominated to take his place.

But then-Vice President Mike Pence, the previous governor of Indiana, opposed the decide, and President Donald Trump didn’t nominate him, prompting Kanne to rescind his resolution to assume senior standing.

Read extra:

New 4th Circuit vacancy opens, as WV-based judge takes senior standing

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Nate Raymond

Nate Raymond studies on the federal judiciary and litigation. He may be reached at nate.raymond@thomsonreuters.com.

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