The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Confirm Michelle T. Friedland to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Advocacy Letter - 04/09/14

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: U.S. Senate

Dear Senator,

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our strong support for the confirmation of Michelle T. Friedland to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Ms. Friedland’s stellar professional background, her keen intellect, her commitment to fairness, and her utmost respect for the Constitution and the rule of law all make her an ideal candidate. We urge you to vote “yes” on cloture and “yes” on her confirmation.

There is no question that Ms. Friedland’s background is outstanding. She graduated from Stanford Law School in 2000, was named to the Order of Coif (the top 10 percent of her class), received the Urban A. Sontheimer Award for graduating second in her class, and won the award for the best student note. She spent the next two years clerking for Judge David Tatel on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, before returning to Stanford Law School as a lecturer on Federal Jurisdiction and Environmental Law. In 2004, Ms. Friedland joined the firm of Munger, Tolles, and Olson as an associate, and she was made a partner in 2010. Recently, she joined the University of Virginia School of Law as an adjunct professor, teaching a seminar on Constitutional Issues in Higher Education. The American Bar Association has given her its highest rating, “unanimously well qualified,” for elevation to the Ninth Circuit, and she is supported and praised by her home state senators.

Ms. Friedland has ably represented numerous corporate clients on a variety of issues. Her practice has focused primarily on antitrust litigation, constitutional and academic affairs litigation for higher education institutions, and appellate matters. At Munger Tolles, Ms. Friedland’s practice has also included a robust pro bono portfolio. In recognition of her pro bono efforts, the State Bar of California named her a recipient of the 2013 President’s Pro Bono Service Award.

In addition, Ms. Friedland has been very active and become a prominent figure in the legal community. She co-chairs the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Amicus Committee, which filed amicus briefs in the district court and Ninth Circuit Proposition 8 litigation. She is also on the board of the Silicon Valley Campaign for Legal Services, a nonprofit organization that works to raise money for legal aid agencies serving low-income persons in Silicon Valley. Her legal acumen and professional experience have garnered the respect of many experts in the legal community – from across the political and ideological spectrums – who know her best. Of particular note is the endorsement by a group of Munger Tolles partners and self-described “long term Republicans.” In a letter to the Senate, they wrote that she “has distinguished herself as a brilliant and dedicated lawyer” who “has the skills, judgment, temperament, and integrity to be an outstanding appellate judge.”

Ms. Friedland’s qualifications, of course, are not the issue. The few who oppose her nomination are doing so based on her work representing clients. As an attorney, it was her job to represent the interests of her clients and present sound legal arguments on their behalf. Assuming that the legal position Ms. Friedland took on behalf of a client is an indication of how she would rule as a judge signals a misunderstanding regarding how our legal system works and is an inappropriate portrayal of Ms. Friedland’s ability to be a fair-minded and impartial jurist.

The Leadership Conference believes Michelle T. Friedland is an enormously qualified nominee with the intellectual acumen and judgment to make objective decisions on a number of multifaceted and prominent cases that will surely come before the court. Ms. Friedland will offer a unique perspective, given her diverse professional experiences. Her impeccable credentials, coupled with the support of a diverse group of individuals from different political and jurisprudential perspectives, is evidence that she would approach cases with an open mind and faithfully apply binding precedent.

The confirmation of this exceptional and renowned legal advocate to a vacancy described as a “judicial emergency” on the Ninth Circuit should not be delayed. We urge you to vote “yes” on cloture and “yes” on her confirmation. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Sakira Cook, Senior Policy Associate at cook@civilrights.org or (202) 263-2894 or Nancy Zirkin, Executive Vice President at Zirkin@civilrights.org or (202) 466-2880.


Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President

Our Members