Julie Rikelman, the attorney who argued on behalf of the Mississippi abortion clinic before the Supreme Court in the case that led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, has been confirmed to a federal appeals court judgeship.
The Senate voted 51-43 on Tuesday to confirm Rikelman to the Boston-based 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals. The approval comes days before the one-year anniversary of the high court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which she lost arguably the biggest case of her career when the conservative majority reversed nearly 50 years of abortion rights precedent.
President Joe Biden nominated Rikelman to the appeals court post last July.
A longtime reproductive rights attorney, Rikelman has served as the senior litigation director for the Center for Reproductive Rights since 2011. She is considered one of the best abortion rights attorneys in the country, and Biden’s decision to nominate her suggests an effort to bolster the bench with an expert on the issue now that states have the opportunity to regulate the procedure as they see fit.
The Mississippi clinic that Rikelman argued on behalf of in the Supreme Court case closed last summer after the state’s trigger ban – which prohibits abortions in the state with exceptions only in cases of rape or to preserve the life of the pregnant person – took effect.
Prior to joining the Center for Reproductive Rights, Rikelman worked for a time at NBC Universal, including as the company’s vice president of litigation. Before that, she worked at private law firms in New York and Alaska, and previously clerked for a federal judge on the Philadelphia-based appeals court.
Rikelman was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, and immigrated to the US with her family as a child.