2nd Circuit's Carney to take senior status, creating new vacancy for Biden

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A view of the judge's chair in court room 422 of the New York Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street February 3, 2012. Picture taken February 3, 2012. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES- Tags: CRIME LAW) - GM1E82D13FE01

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(Reuters) - U.S. Circuit Judge Susan Carney has notified the White House that she plans to retire from active service on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, creating a sixth vacancy for President Joe Biden to fill on the closely watched New York-based court.

Carney, who was appointed to the bench by former Democratic President Barack Obama in 2011, called being on the court a "profound honor and privilege" and said she would continue serving after taking senior status, in a Thursday letter to Biden.

The news came after the Democratic-led Senate on Monday confirmed one of Biden's three 2nd Circuit nominees to date, Beth Robinson, a former Vermont state supreme court justice who will become the first openly LGBTQ female federal appellate judge.

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The Senate had previously confirmed former public defender Eunice Lee and voting rights advocate Myrna Pérez to join the court. Biden has emphasized putting more women, people of color and lawyers with diverse professional backgrounds on the federal bench.

Republican appointees currently fill six of the 13 seats on the 2nd Circuit, which often hears Wall Street-related securities litigation and civil rights disputes and played host to many high-profile terrorism appeals.

One of the Democratic appointees, U.S. Circuit Judges José Cabranes, often votes with his conservative colleagues on the court, which hears cases from Connecticut, New York and Vermont.

But in October, Cabranes and U.S. Circuit Judge Rosemary Pooler, who like him was appointed by former Democratic President Bill Clinton, said they planned to take senior status upon the confirmation of their replacements.

Biden has yet to nominate judges to fill their seats.

In one of her more notable cases, Carney, 70, in 2016 wrote for a 3-0 panel that the U.S. government could not force Microsoft Corp and other companies to turn over customer emails stored on servers outside the United States.

An en banc 2nd Circuit in 2017 split 4-4 in refusing to reconsider that ruling. Former Republican President Donald Trump in 2018 signed legislation into law that makes clear U.S. judges can issue warrants for such data.

Read more:

U.S. Senate confirms first openly LGBTQ female appeals judge

New 2nd Circuit vacancies to open, giving Biden room to tilt court

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Nate Raymond reports on the federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at nate.raymond@thomsonreuters.com.