Diane P. Wood is the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She will be the speaker for the Donahue Lecture series on Friday, February 20, at 4 p.m. in the large 4th floor moot court room. The title of her lecture is “The Allocation of Jurisdiction Between Federal and State Courts from 50,000 Feet Up.”
On the Shortlist
Chief Judge Wood has been on the shortlist for the U.S. Supreme Court twice during the Obama Administration, first when Justice David Souter left the bench in 2009, and again when Justice John Paul Stevens retired in 2010.
One could argue that Chief Judge Wood has proved to be the critical balance needed on the Seventh Circuit panel. In one notable case, Board of Regents of University of Wisconsin System v. Phoenix International Software Inc, Chief Judge Wood had a thoughtful, lengthy dissent regarding the university and sovereign immunity.She argued that the university waived its right to sovereign immunity by taking its case to federal court. When the university later sought and was granted an en banc rehearing, Chief Judge Wood authored the new unanimous opinion, which was, essentially, her argument in the dissent.
This was not the first time Chief Judge Wood was able to convince the panel to change its mind. In another notable case, Bloch v. Frischholz, Chief Judge Wood again dissented strongly from the majority. When the case was reheard en banc, the new majority opinion reversed the decision, reflecting Chief Judge Wood’s dissent.
Chief Judge Wood is actively involved in working on legal reforms through the American Law Institute and played a fundamental role in the University of Chicago’s first policy on sexual harassment.
Russian and Oboe
Even though Chief Judge Wood is quite a busy woman, she took up Russian years ago because she wanted a challenge. She enjoys playing the oboe and English horn in several Chicago-area amateur orchestras. In an April 2014 interview with Gavin Broady for Law360, when asked how she does it all, Chief Judge Wood joked, saying, “I don’t sleep at all.”
In 1980, Chief Judge Wood began her career as a legal academic at Georgetown University Law Center. She moved to the University of Chicago Law School in 1981, serving as a full-time professor until 1995 and as Associate Dean from 1989 through 1992. In 1990, she was named to the Harold J. and Marion F. Green Professorship in International Legal Studies, becoming the first woman to hold a named chair at the school.
From 1993 until she was appointed to the Seventh Circuit in 1995, she served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Chief Judge Wood is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and is on the Council of the American Law Institute. She became Chief Judge on October 1, 2013.
Chief Judge Wood attended the University of Texas at Austin, earning her B.A. in 1971 (highest honors), and her J.D. in 1975 (Order of the Coif). After graduation from law school, she clerked for Judge Irving L. Goldberg on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (1975-76), and for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court (1976-77). She then spent a brief period at the Office of the Legal Adviser in the U.S. Department of State.
She is married to Dr. Robert L. Sufit. She has three children, three step-children, and two grandchildren.