Influential Blind Judge Retires from the Federal Bench

Influential Blind Judge Retires from the Federal Bench

When Judge David S. Tatel informed President Biden of his plan to step back from the federal bench this year, Ann E. Marimow writes in The Washington Post, he closed his letter with this personal note: “My guide dog, Vixen, is pleased to know that First Dogs Champ and Major are also German Shepherds.”

“In nearly three decades on the appeals court in Washington,” Marimow writes, “Tatel’s lack of eyesight has never defined him. But his blindness — and more recently the attentive German shepherd at his side — is now woven into the culture of the courthouse where Tatel has been at the epicenter of consequential cases affecting major aspects of American life.

“The latest formal portrait of the court’s black-robed judges features Vixen in the front row.”

She quotes Steve Vladek, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Texas: “For a judge who can’t see, he sees everything. Not just what is going on in the case before him, but how it matters in the future. It’s hard to think of a judge who is more highly respected on the federal appellate bench even by those who disagree with him.”

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