Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Rader served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, including the Subcommittee on the Constitution and the Subcommittee on Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights. In 1988, he became a judge on the US Court of Federal Claims, the court that hears monetary claims against the US government. In 1990, President Bush elevated Judge Rader to the Federal Circuit.
Judge Rader served on the court with distinction, and also taught patent law and other advanced intellectual property law classes at various law schools in Washington, DC, Virginia, and others. He is also a co-author of a widely used patent law casebook. In 2010, he succeeded Judge Paul Michel as the sixth chief judge of the Federal Circuit.
Last month, news emerged that Chief Judge Rader sent an e-mail praising attorney Edward Reines, a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, who argues regularly before the Federal Circuit. The e-mail heaped praise on Reines and urged him to show the e-mail to others.
Shortly after the e-mail became public, Chief Judge Rader recused himself from a number of cases where he had heard arguments involving Reines. He also publicly released a letter that he sent to his colleagues where he explained his recusals and apologized for “a breach of the ethical obligation not to lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of others.” He also realized that the e-mail could cause others to think that this attorney could unduly influence the Chief Judge in his judicial duties.
At nearly the same time, Judge Rader announced that he was stepping down as chief judge of the court, although his term was scheduled to run until 2017. He would remain an active judge, but wished to spend more time teaching, lecturing, and traveling.
A few weeks later, Judge Rader has now announced his retirement from the court, effective June 30. Although no reference to the e-mail was made in either Judge Rader’s stepping down as chief judge or in his retirement from the bench, one has to assume based on the timing that they are linked. Judge Rader leaves behind a 24 year legacy of service on the court, including 4 years as chief judge. That legacy appears somewhat tarnished in light of the ethical breach.
Chief Judge Prost
Judge Sharon Prost succeeded Judge Rader as the seventh chief judge of the Federal Circuit on June 1. Chief Judge Prost, 63, was appointed to the court by President Bush in 2001 after also serving for 8 years as an attorney for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Other Members of the Court
The retirement of Judge Rader will present another open seat on the Federal Circuit that has seen a great deal of turn over in recent years. Several of the other 11 active members of the court are also eligible for retirement or senior status, should they so choose.
Chief Judge Prost, 63, joined the court in 2001 and is eligible for senior status in 2016.
Judge Pauline Newman, 86, joined the court in 1984 and is eligible for senior status.
Judge Alan Lourie, 79, joined the court in 1990 and is eligible for senior status.
Judge Timothy Dyk, 77, joined the court in 2000 and is eligible for senior status.
Judge Kimberly Moore, 46, joined the court in 2006.
Judge Kathleen O’Malley, 58, joined the court in 2010 after serving 16 years as a district court judge.
Judge Jimmie Reyna, 61, joined the court in 2011.
Judge Evan Wallach, 64, joined the court in 2011 after serving 16 years as a judge on the Court of International Trade. He is eligible for senior status in November.
Judge Richard Taranto, 57, joined the court in 2013.
Judge Raymond Chen, 45, joined the court in 2013.
Judge Todd Hughes, 47, joined the court in 2013.
In addition, Judges H. Robert Mayer, 73, S. Jay Plager, 83, Raymond Clevenger, 76, Alvin Schall, 70, William Bryson, 68, and Richard Linn, 70, continue to serve on the court while in senior status.