Diane Wood

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Diane Wood
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Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Title:   Chief judge
Station:   Chicago, IL
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   6/30/1995-Present
Chief:   10/1/2013-Present
Preceded by:   William Bauer
Personal History
Born:   July 4, 1950
Hometown:   Plainfield, New Jersey
Undergraduate:   University of Texas, Austin, 1971
Law School:   University of Texas Law, 1975

Diane Pamela Wood is the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She is also a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. Wood was nominated to the Seventh Circuit by President Bill Clinton on March 31, 1995. She was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate and received her commission on June 30, 1995.[1]

Wood was elevated to the position of Chief Judge on October 1, 2013, succeeding Frank Easterbrook.[2]

Early life and education

Wood was born in Plainfield, New Jersey. When she was young, she moved with her family to Texas. Wood graduated with a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1971. She earned her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1975, where she was an editor of the Texas Law Review, graduating with high honors and Order of the Coif.[1]

Professional career

  • 1993-1995: Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice
  • 1980-present: Faculty at University of Chicago Law School
  • 1989-1992: Associate Dean, University of Chicago Law School
  • 1980: Faculty at Georgetown Law School
  • 1978-1980: Attorney, Covington & Burling
  • 1977-1978: Legal Advisor, U.S. State Department
  • 1976: Law clerk, United States Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun
  • 1975: Law clerk, Irving Goldberg of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals


Judicial career

Wood was appointed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals by President Bill Clinton on June 30, 1995, upon the recommendation of Senator Dick Durbin.[9][1]

Supreme Court nomination potential

In 2008, the Washington Post, among others, noted Judge Wood as a potential nominee of President Obama's for a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Journalists and pundits theorized that up to three Supreme Court justices could retire in Obama's term.[10][11]

Judge Wood was interviewed by the White House on May 4, 2010, regarding the replacement of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens of the Supreme Court. Many experts viewed Diane Wood as the potential front-runner to replace Stevens. During her interview, she was questioned by both President Obama and Vice President Biden.[12]

Notable cases

  • Walker v. O'Brien, 216 F.3d 626, (7th Cir. 2000): Wood, writing for the panel, held that the requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act do not apply to properly characterized habeas corpus actions because those actions are not “civil actions” within the meaning of the Act.
  • Fornalik v. Perryman, 223 F.3d 523, (7th Cir. 2000): Wood, writing for the panel, held that an INS district office order putting a minor alien in deferred status pending an application to proceed as an abused child of a visa recipient under the Violence Against Women Act took precedence over an earlier removal order issued by another INS district office.
  • Goldwasser v. Ameritech Corp., 222 F.3d 390 (7th Cir. 2000): Wood, writing for the panel, held that a violation of the 1996 Telecommunications Act was not sufficient to state a claim under general antitrust laws.
  • Illinois ex rel. Ryan v. Brown, 227 F.3d 1042 (7th Cir. 2000): Wood, writing for the panel, held that the State of Illinois itself, rather than taxpayer plaintiffs, was the correct party to sue under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to recover losses stemming from a corrupt loan to public official.
  • St. John's United Church of Christ v. City of Chicago, 502 F.3d 616 (7th Cir. 2007): Wood, writing for the majority, held that the O'Hare Modernization Act’s amendment of the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act did not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment because it was a law of general applicability that did not target the plaintiff Church.
  • United States v. Warner & Ryan, 498 F.3d 666 (7th Cir. 2007): Wood, writing for the majority, affirmed the convictions on various criminal charges of former Illinois Governor George H. Ryan, Sr., and his associate Lawrence E. Warner.
  • Germano v. International Profit Association, 544 F.3d 798 (7th Cir. 2008). Wood, writing for the panel, held that statements transmitted by deaf individuals using a communications assistant in a telecommunications relay service conversation are not hearsay.
  • Christian Legal Society v. Walker, 453 F.3d 853 (7th Cir. 2006) (dissent). The panel majority held that the Christian Legal Society (CLS) was entitled to a preliminary injunction preventing Southern Illinois University's revocation of CLS's student group status based on the CLS's failure to adhere to the University's nondiscrimination policy. In dissent, Wood argued that CLS was not entitled to a preliminary injunction because it failed to show that it was likely to succeed on the merits and failed to demonstrate that it had a fundamental right to the benefits the University believed should have been withheld so long as CLS did not comply with the University's policy.
  • Bloch v. Frischholz, 533 F.3d 562 (7th Cir. 2008) (dissent). The panel majority held that a condominium association rule prohibiting objects outside of owners’ doors was facially neutral, and that the Fair Housing Act does not require a religious accommodation for those of Jewish faith wishing to put mezuzot on their doorposts. In dissent, Wood argued plaintiffs had established a claim for intentional religious discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, as there was sufficient evidence in the record to conclude that the rule was being applied in a way that would constitute a constructive eviction of observant Jews.
  • Solid Waste Agency v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, 191 F.3d 845 (1999): Wood, writing for the panel, held that the decision to regulate isolated waters based on their actual use as a habitat by migratory birds was within Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. The Supreme Court reversed. 531 U.S. 159 (2001).
  • National Organization for Women v. Scheidler, 267 F.3d 687 (7th Cir. 2001): Wood, writing for the panel, held that the district court did not err in concluding that the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act authorized private plaintiffs to seek injunctive relief. In addition, the court held that the injunction issued by the district prohibiting violent conduct by anti-abortion protesters struck the proper balance and avoided any risk of curtailing activities protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court reversed. 537 U.S. 393 (2003).

Awards and associations

In 1990, Wood was named the Harold J. and Marion F. Green Chair in International Legal Studies becoming the first woman at the Law School to be honored with a named chair.

Outside of her role as a federal judge, Wood has worked on various legal reform projects. The majority of her involvement comes through the American Bar Association and the Brookings Institute Project on Civil Justice Reform. Wood was instrumental in developing the University of Chicago’s first policy on sexual harassment and has become a consultant in business law as well, advising businesses on developing policies that take harassment law into account.

Judge Wood holds memberships in the American Law Institute, the International Academy of Comparative Law, the American Society of International Law, and the American Bar Association. She has served on the governing councils of the ABA’s Section of Antitrust Law and its Section of International Law and Practice. Since joining the Court, she has continued to teach at The University of Chicago Law School as a Senior Lecturer.

See also

External links


Political offices
Preceded by:
William Bauer
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
Succeeded by: