A Lawrence federal appeals court judge is taking senior status, a move that will create a vacancy on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Deanell Reece Tacha said she will make the move official on Thursday when she becomes eligible for senior status after her 65th birthday on Wednesday.
Judges on senior status carry a reduced caseload, but continue to draw their full salary. In 2010, federal appeals court judges earned $184,500 per year.
President Barack Obama will nominate Tacha’s successor, subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.
Tacha, nominated by President Ronald Reagan, has served on the court for 25 years.
“I am the most fortunate person to have had 25 years of service to this nation,” Tacha said. “And I will keep on serving.”
The 12-member court already has one vacancy, Tacha said, and her departure would create a second opening. Several other judges on senior status assist with the caseload as well, she said.
Tacha said she is continuing to weigh whether she would accept an offer, if extended, to become Pepperdine University’s law dean. She is a finalist for the post.
She hasn’t heard from Pepperdine officials yet, but if she were to accept, she said she would step down from the court completely.
Tacha said she soon will make another trip to Malibu, Calif., where the university is located.
If tradition is followed, her replacement on the court would likely come from Kansas, and Tacha said she hoped it would be so. The court is based in Denver and hears cases that originate in Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.
Tacha has been a law school faculty member at KU, and she was serving as the university’s vice chancellor for academic affairs when she was nominated for the court. She also has volunteered for a number of community organizations and serves on the KU Endowment Association’s Board of Trustees.
Tacha said she didn’t mind having a Democrat select her replacement on the court.
“It’s very important to me that the public recognize that judges are totally nonpolitical in their decisions,” Tacha said.
And that includes making the decision to step down from full-time status, which she said she long planned to do once she became eligible, no matter who occupied the White House.