Michael McConnell 
Judge McConnell in teaching mode.

The Tenth Circuit announced yesterday that Judge Michael W. McConnell will return to legal academia in late summer. 

The resignation will open a vacancy on the 12-judge court.

The court's press release said:

Tenth Circuit Judge Michael McConnell Stepping Down From Bench

DENVER – The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit regretfully announced that Circuit Judge Michael W. McConnell, 53, of Salt Lake City, Utah, has submitted his resignation from the bench, effective August 31, 2009. At that time, he will accept a position as Richard and Frances Mallery Professor of Law and Director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School in Palo Alto, California.

Judge McConnell was appointed to the Tenth Circuit in 2002 by President George W. Bush. Prior to his appointment to the court, he served as Presidential Professor of Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law of the University of Utah, and prior to that as the William B. Graham Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. At both institutions he specialized in constitutional law. He also practiced law as an appellate litigator, arguing eleven cases in the United States Supreme Court and numerous cases in other courts.

Judge McConnell commented: “The opportunity to serve on the Tenth Circuit has been a great privilege and one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I will especially miss working with my colleagues on the court, whose friendship, collegiality, and commitment to upholding law and justice are a model and an inspiration. But my first love remains in teaching and scholarship.  Especially at this time of grave international and domestic challenges and transformation, I want to contribute more openly to debate, scholarly analysis, and public understanding of the governing principles of the American Republic.”

As Director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, Judge McConnell will help to shape the course of national discussions on such issues as executive power, the role of religion and religious freedom, international law and national sovereignty, federalism, and the role of government in a market economy. He will also bring his judicial experience to bear on questions of constitutional law and the role of the courts in our governmental structure.

His replacement will be named by President Obama, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. Judge McConnell will remain on the court long enough to complete work on cases he has already heard.

Chief Judge Robert Henry stated: “Judge Michael McConnell is a fine friend and distinguished colleague. Our Circuit and the federal judiciary are losing a remarkable jurist. We will miss his scholarship, intellect, concern for fairness and justice, and collegial nature. I am certain his important judicial contributions to our nation’s jurisprudence, made while on this court, will continue to be made, a bit differently perhaps, in his prestigious position at Stanford.”

Blawgletter's congratulations and best wishes go out to Judge McConnell.  Thank you for your service.

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