United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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Seventh Circuit
Court of Appeals
Judges: 9
Posts: 11
Vacancies: 2
Dirksen Courthouse.jpg
Active judges
Chief: Diane Wood
Senior Judges
Former Judges
(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)
More than 40%

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, sometimes referred to simply as the Seventh Circuit, is one of the thirteen federal appellate courts. The court was established in 1891 and has eleven posts. The court is located at the Everett M. Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago.

Vacancy warning level

The vacancy warning level for the Seventh Circuit is set at blue. The court currently has two vacancies out of its eleven total seats.

Pending nominations

There are no pending nominations for the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Active judges

Article III judges

JudgeAppointed byActiveChiefPreceededBachelorsLaw
Judge Diane SykesW. Bush 8/24/2004-PresentJohn CoffeyNorthwestern University, 1980Marquette University Law, 1984
Chief Judge Diane WoodClinton 6/30/1995-Present10/1/2013-PresentWilliam BauerUniversity of Texas, Austin, 1971University of Texas Law, 1975
Judge Frank EasterbrookReagan 4/4/1985-Present2006-9/30/2013Swarthmore College, 1970University of Chicago Law, 1973
Judge Ann WilliamsClinton 11/15/1999-PresentWalter CummingsWayne State University, 1970Notre Dame Law School, 1975
Judge Joel FlaumReagan 5/5/1983-Present2000-2006Robert SprecherUnion College, 1958Northwestern U. Law, 1963
Judge Ilana RovnerH.W. Bush 8/17/1992-PresentHarlington WoodBryn Mawr College, 1960Chicago-Kent Law, 1966
Judge Michael KanneReagan 5/20/1987-PresentJesse EschbachIndiana University, 1962Indiana University Law School, 1968
Judge Richard Posner 12/01/1981-Present1993-2000Philip ToneYale University, 1959Harvard Law, 1962
Judge David Hamilton (Seventh Circuit)Obama 11/23/2009-PresentKenneth RippleHaverford College, 1979Yale Law School, 1983

Active Article III judges by appointing political party

This graph displays the percent of active judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.


Senior judges

JudgeAppointed byActiveChiefSeniorBachelorsLaw
Senior Judge Daniel ManionReagan 7/24/1986-12/18/200712/18/2007-PresentNotre Dame, 1964Indiana University Law, 1973
Senior Judge John TinderW. Bush 12/21/2007-2/18/20152/18/2015-PresentIndiana University, 1972Indiana University Law, 1975
Senior Judge Ken RippleReagan 5/10/1985-9/1/20089/1/2008-PresentFordham University, 1965University of Virginia Law, 1968
Senior Judge William BauerFord 12/20/1974-10/31/19941986-199310/31/1994-PresentElmhurst College, 1949DePaul University Law, 1952
Senior Judge Richard CudahyCarter 9/26/1979-8/15/19948/15/1994-PresentWest Point, 1948Yale Law, 1955

Senior judges by appointing political party

This graph displays the percent of senior judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.



United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh CircuitUnited States Court of Appeals for the Seventh CircuitUnited States District Court for the Western District of WisconsinUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of WisconsinUnited States District Court for the Northern District of IllinoisUnited States District Court for the Central District of IllinoisUnited States District Court for the Southern District of IllinoisUnited States District Court for the Northern District of IndianaUnited States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
Map of the Seventh Circuit. Click on a district to find out more about it.

The Seventh Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over cases heard in one of its subsidiary districts. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law. Appeals of rulings by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals are petitioned to the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Elena Kagan is the Circuit Justice for the Seventh Circuit.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over the courts in the following districts:



Federal Court Caseload Statistics*
YearStarting case load:Cases filed:Total cases:Cases terminated:Remaining casesTerminations on merits:Terminations on ProcedureCross Appeals:Total Terminations: Written decisions per Judge**
*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website (for District Courts) and reflect the calendar year through September.    **This statistic reflects only judges that are active for the entire 12 month period.

Notable cases

For a searchable list of decisions from the Seventh Circuit, please see:
Seventh Circuit Searchable Opinions


Court history

The Seventh Circuit was established by the United States Congress in 1891 with the Evarts Act of 1891, which established the first nine appeals circuits. Over the years, nine additional seats were added to the court, resulting in a total of eleven seats.[5] The court has moved six times throughout its history, but has always remained in Chicago.

Judicial posts

The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Seventh Circuit:[5]

Year Statute Total Seats
March 3, 1891 26 Stat. 826 2
February 8, 1895 28 Stat. 643 3
March 3, 1905 33 Stat. 992 4
May 31, 1938 52 Stat. 584 5
August 3, 1949 63 Stat. 493 6
May 19, 1961 75 Stat. 80 7
March 18, 1966 80 Stat. 75 8
October 20, 1978 92 Stat. 1629,1632 9
July 10, 1984 98 Stat. 333 11

Former judges

Former chief judges

In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy in the office of chief judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.[6][7]

Former judges

For more information about the judges of the Seventh Circuit, see former federal judges of the Seventh Circuit.

Federal courthouse

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has moved into six different court buildings. The original building was located at the Northwest corner of Monroe Street and Dearborn Street and shared space with the U.S. Customs House and Post Office. The building was gutted by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The court moved to a newly constructed building in 1980 located between Clark, Adams, and Dearborn streets and Jackson Boulevard. The building was poorly constructed, and the court moved again in 1894 to the Monadnock building at the corner of Jackson Boulevard and Dearborn Street. The Monadnock building served as a temporary home until a new courthouse was built in 1905 by architect Henry Ives Cobb. The court moved again in 1938 to 1212 Lake Shore Drive and one final time in 1965 to its present location at the Everett M. Dirksen Federal Building. The current building was constructed by principal architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. The official court website describes the building, stating,

The block-long building rises thirty stories on a skeleton of structural steel, supported by concrete caissons extending to rock one hundred feet below sidewalk level. It is sheathed in a curtain wall of steel, aluminum and bronze-tinted glass. The entire ground level area is paved in granite, extending to the lobby as interior paving and onto the elevator core walls.[8][9]

Judicial nominating commission

The Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission was originally established in 1979 by Wisconsin Senators William Proxmire and Gaylord Nelson. The commission recommends nominees for the following courts: Eastern District of Wisconsin, Western District of Wisconsin and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The commission also recommends nominees for United States attorney for the Eastern and Western districts.[10]

2013 changes to the commission

The president is tasked with making appointments for Article III judgeships and relies upon the senators from the state in which the judge will sit to make suggestions or recommendations for these appointments. Senators, in turn, have the ability to create nominating commissions to assist them with their recommendations. When the state's senators are from opposing parties, tensions can rise and stymie the process. When the Wisconsin commission was first created in 1979, it was decided that, in this difficult situation, that the senator representing the party to which the president also belonged would appoint five members to the commission, while the other senator was able to appoint three members.

In April 2013, Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson reorganized the Wisconsin nominating commission. It is now composed of six members of the Wisconsin State Bar, and each senator appoints three members.[10][11]


The court offers a unique Internet presence that includes wiki and RSS feeds of opinions and oral arguments. No other United States district or appellate court offers oral arguments using these feeds to the Internet with the exception of United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which offers RSS features.

See also

External links