On Tuesday, July 9, 2024, Reuters reported that 97-year-old Judge Pauline Newman lost her lawsuit seeking reinstatement to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Judge Newman, who was appointed to the Federal Circuit by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, had been suspended from the court in September after its judicial council found evidence of cognitive and physical impairment related to her advanced age. Specifically, Chief Judge Kimberly Moore claimed Newman showed signs of serious cognitive and physical decline and refused to cooperate with inquiries into her mental health.

Dissatisfied with her suspension, Judge Newman filed a lawsuit alleging that the 1980 Judicial Conduct and Disability Act violated her constitutional due process rights. However, in a ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper dismissed Judge Newman’s claims that the law was unconstitutional. This was the second legal defeat for Newman, as Judge Cooper had previously rejected other constitutional arguments made in her case back in February.

Despite the latest ruling, Judge Newman plans to appeal the decision, according to her attorney Greg Dolin. For its part, the Federal Circuit declined to comment on the lawsuit.

In addition to the district court loss, the appeals court issued a separate order on Tuesday directing Newman to explain why her suspension should not be renewed, citing her continued refusal to cooperate with the judicial council.

As the oldest sitting U.S. federal judge who has not taken senior status, the fight over Judge Newman’s suspension has brought public attention to issues of judicial fitness for the first time. It also comes amid broader discussions about the advanced age of some government officials, like calls from some Democrats for 81-year-old President Joe Biden not to seek reelection in 2024 due to concerns about his ability to serve. For now, 97-year-old Judge Newman appears poised to continue her legal challenge, though the courts have twice sided with the suspension of her judicial duties.



Source: Reuters