President Joe Biden today announced 11 judicial candidates – 10 for federal circuit and district court judge positions, including Tiffany Cunningham as nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). Cunningham would replace Judge Evan J. Wallach, who announced earlier this month that he will retire from active service and assume senior status as of May 31, 2021, after 10 years of service with the court.
Cunningham is a patent litigation partner at Perkins Coie LLP in Chicago, Illinois. She has been with the firm since 2014, and prior to that worked in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. She became a partner in 2007.
She served as a law clerk to Judge Timothy B. Dyk on the CAFC from 2001 to 2002. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2001 and her Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1998.
Cunningham’s was not among the names that came up in IPWatchdog’s survey of a small number of patent stakeholders regarding potential candidates, but, as Judge Paul Michel mentioned in his comments on the subject, the court has never had an African American judge, much less an African American woman.
According to her firm profile, Cunningham’s experience includes chiefly chemical and pharmaceutical disciplines, biotechnology, computer science, automotive, and mechanical engineering. The list of her representative experience includes patent infringement cases in district courts and at the Federal Circuit, as well as International Trade Commission and trade secret cases.
Biden also nominated the following candidates to fill other judicial vacancies:
- Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- Candace Jackson-Akiwumi: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- Judge Deborah Boardman: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
- Judge Lydia Griggsby: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
- Julien Neals: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
- Judge Florence Y. Pan: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
- Judge Zahid N. Quraishi: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
- Regina Rodriguez: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Colorado
- Margaret Strickland: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico
- Judge Rupa Ranga Puttagunta: Nominee for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
In a statement, Biden said of the nominations:
This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession. Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong.
The statement also noted that today’s announcement of Biden’s intent to nominate these judges “is faster than any President in modern history. With respect to Circuit and District Courts, none of the last four administrations had nominated more than two candidates by this point in their presidency.”