We Need Judges on Our Courts Who Get Us. We Need Julie Rikelman.
Trailblazing appellate litigator and judicial nominee Julie Rikelman is a much-needed addition to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Rikelman has spent her illustrious career serving in both the private and nonprofit sectors, where she defended the right to bodily autonomy and access to abortion. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June, we have continued to see relentless threats to reproductive rights from local legislatures and the courts. Now more than ever, we need judges like Julie Rikelman who understand the impact of the laws and Constitution on the lives of women and girls—and who are committed to equal protection and equal justice for all.
Throughout her illustrious legal career, Rikelman has shown her commitment to equal justice and the rule of law. She presently serves as the United States Litigation Director for the Center for Reproductive Rights, a role she’s held since 2011, and has argued twice before the Supreme Court to defend the right to bodily autonomy and abortion care. Rikelman’s arguments during the June Medical Services LLC v. Russo and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization cases were in line with constitutional precedent at the time and showcase her keen legal understanding of our fundamental rights. In addition to her advocacy work in nonprofits in support of gender justice, Rikelman has worked in the private sector in many roles including as the vice president of litigation at NBC Universal Inc. Rikelman’s commitment to protecting the rights of all people and the rule of law indicate she will be a fair and impartial judge.
Beyond her stellar advocacy experience and credentials, if confirmed, Rikelman will make history as the first immigrant woman, the first Jewish woman, and the third woman ever to serve on the First Circuit. Rikelman’s personal experience of suffering religious persecution and discrimination in the former Soviet Union has shaped her understanding of and commitment to equal justice for all. Rikelman and her family left their home and everything they knew behind to come to the United States of America as refugees in search of a better life and fair treatment under the law. Her personal experience as an immigrant and Jewish woman will be a vital perspective on the appellate bench. Additionally, as an appellate attorney with reproductive rights litigation experience, Julie Rikelman would bring important professional demographic diversity to the bench during a time when access to reproductive health care is under constant attack. Federal judges with extensive reproductive rights litigation experience, like Rikelman, are sadly a rarity. We know that when courts reflect the diverse communities they hear cases from, there’s increased public trust in the courts.
Rikelman is a brilliant attorney and would be an amazing addition to the First Circuit. Her over two decades of experience across the legal profession showcases her expansive knowledge of federal laws and the Constitution and commitment to equal justice. Rikelman’s extensive legal knowledge and even temperament were especially impressive during her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. While facing aggressive questioning on her record as an advocate and at one point being called an “extreme zealot,” she maintained her composure and thoroughly answered each senator respectfully. She was favorably voted out of the committee and is now awaiting final confirmation on the Senate floor. We urge the Senate to confirm Rikelman to the First Circuit. Our federal bench needs judges with reproductive rights litigation experience, and we cannot wait to celebrate Rikelman’s historic confirmation.