Meet the D.C. Circuit Nominees: Millett, Pillard, Wilkins

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on June 10, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Obama D.C. Circuit nominees -- Patricia Millett, Cornelia Pillard, Robert Wilkins -- made their grand debut to the spotlight last week. Since the announcement, much of the discussion has focused on the political reaction to President Obama's nominations. But what about the nominees themselves?

Below is some information on the three high-profile lawyers -- an attorney, a law professor, and a judge -- who are up for seats at one of the most powerful courts in the country.

Patricia Millett

Patricia Millett is an established appellate lawyer who spearheads Akin Gump's Supreme Court practice and serves as the co-head of the firm's national appellate practice. Until recently, she held the impressive record for the most Supreme Court arguments by a female lawyer, according to the White House press release.

Millett's private practice clientele boasts a wide variety of clients, ranging from large businesses to individual pro bono plaintiffs.

Before entering private practice, Millett served in the Solicitor General's Office for 11 years, in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. She also clerked for the late Judge Thomas Tang on the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for two years.

Nina Pillard

Following in the footsteps of scholars-turned-judges like Justices Scalia and Ginsburg, Nina Pillard is a law professor at Georgetown University. She also serves as the school's Supreme Court Institute Faculty Director.

Before turning to academia, Pillard twice served in the Department of Justice. She served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel and Assistant to the Solicitor General, according to her curriculum vitae.

A landmark Supreme Court case for gender equality, Pillard successfully represented the female students who wanted to attend the Virginia Military Institute, according to the White House press release. She was also involved in successfully defending before the Supreme Court the constitutionality of the of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Prior to serving in the DOJ, Pillard was a fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union and was an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.

She clerked for Judge Louis H. Pollak of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who was widely recognized for his commitment to protecting civil rights.

Robert Wilkins

Robert Wilkins is a D.C. District Court judge who won unanimous confirmation in 2010. Before serving as a federal judge, Wilkins spent eight years in private practice and ten years as a public defender in Washington D.C., according to the White House press release.

From 2002 to 2010, Wilkins was a trial and appellate lawyer at Venable.

He also clerked for Judge Earl B. Gilliam of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, according to his online bio on the D.C. District Court website.

Wilkins played a large role on the Presidential Commission that advised President George W. Bush on the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is slated to open in 2015 on the national mall.

So there you have it, an introduction to the three candidates. Stay tuned for information in the coming weeks on the state of their nomination process.

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