Judge Boyce F. Martin, Jr. is expected to retire from the Sixth Circuit in August. Judge Martin is currently the longest serving active judge on the Sixth Circuit, having been appointed to the Court by President Carter in 1979. Judge Martin’s retirement will give the Court its first vacancy in awhile, as it has been as full strength with 16 active judges since Judge Donald’s confirmation in 2011. Judicialnominations.org notes that the vacancy will occur at the Sixth Circuit on August 16, 2013.
Judge Martin has had a significant influence on the Sixth Circuit during the course of his tenure, including during the time when he served as Chief Judge. He has certainly witnessed a number of changes at the Court both in terms of the personnel and the process. We recently reported over the past year about the vanishing oral argument at the Sixth Circuit. Judge Martin is a judge who truly enjoys oral argument. He always seems to relish the opportunity to wrestle with the complicated questions at oral argument and to savor the fencing with counsel (or at least well prepared counsel) during the process of oral argument. As some judges now discount the importance of oral argument or favor curtailing it, Judge Martin seems to be of the view that it is an important part of the Court’s function in history.
With the looming retirement of Judge Martin, it begs the question of whether a nominee will get past the Senate for confirmation given the current battles between the White House and the Senate on judicial nominations. Currently, there are three vacancies for district court judgeships in Kentucky, with no pending nominees. We will certainly keep an eye on all developments related to the vacancy, and certainly wish Judge Martin the best of luck in his retirement.