United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
(6th Cir.)
LocationPotter Stewart U.S. Courthouse
Appeals from
EstablishedJune 16, 1891
Circuit JusticeBrett Kavanaugh
Chief JudgeJeffrey Sutton

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (in case citations, 6th Cir.) is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:

The court is composed of sixteen judges and is based at the Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is one of 13 United States courts of appeals.

The United States federal courts were divided into six circuits in 1801, but a circuit court of appeals was not established until the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1891.[1]

William Howard Taft, the only person ever to serve as both President and Chief Justice of the United States, once served on the Sixth Circuit. Four other judges of the Sixth Circuit have been elevated to serve on the Supreme Court, the last being Potter Stewart in 1958.

Current composition of the Court


As of July 20, 2023:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
62 Chief Judge Jeffrey Sutton Columbus, OH 1960 2003–present 2021–present G.W. Bush
56 Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore Cleveland, OH 1948 1995–present Clinton
58 Circuit Judge Eric L. Clay Detroit, MI 1948 1997–present Clinton
60 Circuit Judge Julia Smith Gibbons Memphis, TN 1950 2002–present G.W. Bush
65 Circuit Judge Richard Allen Griffin Traverse City, MI 1952 2005–present G.W. Bush
67 Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge Ann Arbor, MI 1966 2008–present G.W. Bush
69 Circuit Judge Jane Branstetter Stranch Nashville, TN 1953 2010–present Obama
71 Circuit Judge Amul Thapar Covington, KY 1969 2017–present Trump
72 Circuit Judge John K. Bush Louisville, KY 1964 2017–present Trump
73 Circuit Judge Joan Larsen Ann Arbor, MI 1968 2017–present Trump
74 Circuit Judge John Nalbandian Cincinnati, OH 1969 2018–present Trump
75 Circuit Judge Chad Readler Columbus, OH 1972 2019–present Trump
76 Circuit Judge Eric E. Murphy Columbus, OH 1979 2019–present Trump
77 Circuit Judge Stephanie D. Davis Detroit, MI 1967 2022–present Biden
78 Circuit Judge Andre Mathis Memphis, TN 1980 2022–present Biden
79 Circuit Judge Rachel Bloomekatz Columbus, OH 1982 2023–present Biden
47 Senior Circuit Judge Ralph B. Guy Jr. Ann Arbor, MI 1929 1985–1994 1994–present Reagan
49 Senior Circuit Judge James L. Ryan inactive 1932 1985–2000 2000–present Reagan
50 Senior Circuit Judge Danny Julian Boggs Louisville, KY 1944 1986–2017 2003–2009 2017–present Reagan
51 Senior Circuit Judge Alan Eugene Norris Columbus, OH 1935 1986–2001 2001–present Reagan
52 Senior Circuit Judge Richard Fred Suhrheinrich Lansing, MI 1936 1990–2001 2001–present G.H.W. Bush
53 Senior Circuit Judge Eugene Edward Siler Jr. London, KY 1936 1991–2001 2001–present G.H.W. Bush
54 Senior Circuit Judge Alice M. Batchelder Medina, OH 1944 1991–2019 2009–2014 2019–present G.H.W. Bush
55 Senior Circuit Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey Nashville, TN 1942 1993–2009 2009–present Clinton
57 Senior Circuit Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. Columbus, OH 1951 1995–2023 2014–2021 2023–present Clinton
59 Senior Circuit Judge Ronald Lee Gilman Memphis, TN 1942 1997–2010 2010–present Clinton
61 Senior Circuit Judge John M. Rogers Lexington, KY 1948 2002–2018 2018–present G.W. Bush
63 Senior Circuit Judge Deborah L. Cook Akron, OH 1952 2003–2019 2019–present G.W. Bush
64 Senior Circuit Judge David McKeague Lansing, MI 1946 2005–2017 2017–present G.W. Bush
68 Senior Circuit Judge Helene White Detroit, MI 1954 2008–2022 2022–present G.W. Bush

Vacancies and pending nominations

Seat Prior judge's duty station Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
2 Memphis, TN Julia Smith Gibbons Senior status TBD[2] Kevin G. Ritz March 21, 2024
16 Nashville, TN Jane Branstetter Stranch TBD[3] Karla M. Campbell June 4, 2024

List of former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Howell E. Jackson TN 1832–1895 1891–1893 Cleveland / Operation of law[4] elevation to Supreme Court
2 William Howard Taft OH 1857–1930 1892–1900 B. Harrison resignation
3 Horace Harmon Lurton TN 1844–1914 1893–1909 Cleveland elevation to Supreme Court
4 William R. Day OH 1849–1923 1899–1903 McKinley elevation to Supreme Court
5 Henry Franklin Severens MI 1835–1923 1900–1911 McKinley resignation
6 John K. Richards OH 1856–1909 1903–1909 T. Roosevelt death
7 John Wesley Warrington OH 1844–1921 1909–1919 1919–1921 Taft death
8 Loyal Edwin Knappen MI 1854–1930 1910–1924 1924–1930 Taft death
9 Arthur Carter Denison MI 1861–1942 1911–1931 Taft resignation
10 Maurice H. Donahue OH 1864–1928 1919–1928 Wilson death
11 Charles Harwood Moorman KY 1876–1938 1925–1938 Coolidge death
12 Xenophon Hicks TN 1872–1952 1928–1952 1948–1952 1952 Coolidge death
13 Smith Hickenlooper OH 1880–1933 1928–1933 Coolidge death
14 Julian Mack IL 1866–1943 1929–1930 [5] reassignment to 2nd Cir.
15 Charles C. Simons MI 1876–1964 1932–1959 1952–1958 1959–1964 Hoover death
16 Florence E. Allen OH 1884–1966 1934–1959 1958–1959 1959–1966 F. Roosevelt death
17 Elwood Hamilton KY 1883–1945 1938–1945 F. Roosevelt death
18 Herschel W. Arant OH 1887–1941 1939–1941 F. Roosevelt death
19 John Donelson Martin Sr. TN 1883–1962 1940–1962 1959 F. Roosevelt death
20 Thomas Francis McAllister MI 1896–1976 1941–1963 1959–1961 1963–1976 F. Roosevelt death
21 Shackelford Miller Jr. KY 1892–1965 1945–1965 1961–1962 1965–1965 Truman death
22 Potter Stewart OH 1915–1985 1954–1958 Eisenhower elevation to Supreme Court
23 Lester LeFevre Cecil OH 1893–1983 1959–1965 1962–1963 1965–1982 Eisenhower death
24 Paul Charles Weick OH 1899–1997 1959–1981 1963–1969 1981–1997 Eisenhower death
25 Clifford Patrick O'Sullivan MI 1897–1975 1960–1969 1969–1975 Eisenhower death
26 Harry Phillips TN 1909–1985 1963–1979 1969–1979 1979–1985 Kennedy death
27 George Clifton Edwards Jr. MI 1914–1995 1963–1985 1979–1983 1985–1995 L. Johnson[6] death
28 Anthony J. Celebrezze OH 1910–1998 1965–1980 1980–1998 L. Johnson death
29 John Weld Peck II OH 1913–1993 1966–1978 1978–1993 L. Johnson death
30 Wade H. McCree MI 1920–1987 1966–1977 L. Johnson resignation
31 Bert Combs KY 1911–1991 1967–1970 L. Johnson resignation
32 Henry Luesing Brooks KY 1905–1971 1969–1971 Nixon death
33 William Ernest Miller TN 1908–1976 1970–1976 Nixon death
34 W. Wallace Kent MI 1916–1973 1970–1973 Nixon death
35 Pierce Lively KY 1921–2016 1972–1989 1983–1988 1989–2016 Nixon death
36 Albert J. Engel Jr. MI 1924–2013 1973–1989 1988–1989 1989–2013 Nixon death
37 Damon Keith MI 1922–2019 1977–1995 1995–2019 Carter death
38 Gilbert S. Merritt Jr. TN 1936–2022 1977–2001 1989–1996 2001–2022 Carter death
39 Bailey Brown TN 1917–2004 1979–1982 1982–1997 Carter retirement
40 Cornelia Groefsema Kennedy MI 1923–2014 1979–1999 1999–2014 Carter death
41 Boyce F. Martin Jr. KY 1935–2016 1979–2013 1996–2003 Carter retirement
42 Nathaniel R. Jones OH 1926–2020 1979–1995 1995–2002 Carter retirement
43 Leroy John Contie Jr. OH 1920–2001 1982–1986 1986–2001 Reagan death
44 Robert B. Krupansky OH 1921–2004 1982–1991 1991–2004 Reagan death
45 Harry W. Wellford TN 1924–2021 1982–1991 1991–2021 Reagan death
46 Herbert Theodore Milburn TN 1931–2016 1984–1996 1996–2016 Reagan death
48 David Aldrich Nelson OH 1932–2010 1985–1999 1999–2010 Reagan death
66 Susan Bieke Neilson MI 1956–2006 2005–2006 G.W. Bush death
70 Bernice B. Donald TN 1951–present 2011–2022 2022–2023 Obama retirement

Chief judges

Chief Judge
Hicks 1948–1952
Simons 1952–1958
Allen 1958–1959
Martin 1959
McAllister 1959–1961
S. Miller, Jr. 1961–1962
Cecil 1962–1963
Weick 1963–1969
Phillips 1969–1979
Edwards, Jr. 1979–1983
Lively 1983–1988
Engel, Jr. 1988–1989
Merritt, Jr. 1989–1996
Martin, Jr. 1996–2003
Boggs 2003–2009
Batchelder 2009–2014
Cole, Jr. 2014–2021
Sutton 2021–present

Chief judges have administrative responsibilities with respect to their circuits, and preside over any panel on which they serve, unless the circuit justice (the Supreme Court justice responsible for the circuit) is also on the panel. Unlike the Supreme Court, where one justice is specifically nominated to be chief, the office of chief judge rotates among the circuit judges.

To be chief, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges, with seniority determined first by commission date, then by age. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years, or until age 70, whichever occurs first. If no judge qualifies to be chief, the youngest judge over the age of 65 who has served on the court for at least one year shall act as chief until another judge qualifies. If no judge has served on the court for more than a year, the most senior judge shall act as chief. Judges can forfeit or resign their chief judgeship or acting chief judgeship while retaining their active status as a circuit judge.[7]

When the office was created in 1948, the chief judge was the longest-serving judge who had not elected to retire, on what has since 1958 been known as senior status, or declined to serve as chief judge. After August 6, 1959, judges could not become or remain chief after turning 70 years old. The current rules have been in operation since October 1, 1982.[8]

Succession of seats


The court has 16 seats for active judges, numbered in the order in which they were initially filled. Judges who assume senior status enter a kind of retirement in which they remain on the bench but vacate their seats, thus allowing the U.S. President to appoint new judges to fill their seats.

Case law


See also



  1. ^ M. Neil Reed, Tom Vanderloo, and Stephanie Woebkenberg, "A History of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit: Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee", The Federal Lawyer (August 2016), p. 34-38.
  2. ^ "Biden gains 6th Circuit vacancy to fill as Gibbons takes senior status". Reuters. Retrieved August 18, 2023.
  3. ^ Raymond, Nate (January 29, 2024). "6th Circuit's Stranch to take senior status, creating court vacancy". Reuters. Archived from the original on January 29, 2024.
  4. ^ Jackson was appointed to as a circuit judge for the Sixth Circuit in 1886 by Grover Cleveland. The Judiciary Act of 1891 reassigned his seat to what is now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
  5. ^ Mack did not have a permanent seat on this court. Instead, he was appointed to the ill-fated United States Commerce Court in 1911 by William Howard Taft. Aside from their duties on the Commerce Court, the judges of the Commerce Court also acted as at-large appellate judges, able to be assigned by the Chief Justice of the United States to whichever circuit most needed help. Mack was assigned to the Seventh Circuit immediately prior to his assignment to the Sixth Circuit.
  6. ^ Edwards was nominated for a seat on the Sixth Circuit by President Kennedy, but he was confirmed after Kennedy's assassination and was appointed to the Sixth Circuit by (i.e., received his commission from) President Johnson.
  7. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 45
  8. ^ 62 Stat. 871, 72 Stat. 497, 96 Stat. 51
  9. ^ Rogers v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 230 F.3d 868 (6th Cir. 2000).