Diane Wood Biography

Judge, Lawyer(1950–)
Diane Wood is a judge and lawyer who has been mentioned in connection with filling Supreme Court justice vacancies.

Synopsis

Diane Wood was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate in March 1995 to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and began on June 30, 1995. Wood came to national attention in 2009, when many political experts considered her a top contender for a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, shortly after Justice David Souter announced his retirement. Justice Sonia Sotomayor received the title instead.

Early Life

Judge, politician. Born Diane Pamela Wood on July 4, 1950, in Plainfield, New Jersey, the second of three children born to parents Lucille and Kenneth Wood. Her father, an Exxon accountant, moved the family to Houston, Texas, for his job when Diane was 16. She spent her teenage years at Westchester High School, graduating in 1968 as the valedictorian of her class.

Wood headed to the University of Texas after graduation, where she majored in English literature. A high achiever, Diane received special honors in her department when she earned her bachelor's in 1971. She entered the University of Texas School of Law, where she became editor of the Texas Law Review. In 1975 she earned her Juris Doctor with high honors, as well as a clerkship for Judge Irving Goldberg of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Career Highlights

The next year, Wood became one of the first women to clerk for the U.S. Supreme court, working with Associate Justice Harry Blackmun. She stayed in the position for a year before taking a position with the U.S. State Department. In her new job as an attorney-adviser, Wood took a particular interest in international investment, antitrust, and transfer of technology issues. Wood then moved to the private sector in 1978, practicing law at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. As an associate at the firm, Wood focused on antitrust and international law for three years before moving to the world of academia.

In 1981 Wood became only the third woman in the University of Chicago's history to hold a position as a law professor. When she began her tenure at the university, Wood was the only female faculty member on staff. As usual, Wood's incredible work ethic pushed her to the top of her department, and she became the law school's first female tenured faculty member. By 1990, she had moved from the role of assistant professor to the title of associate dean. She also took frequent stints as a visiting professor of law at schools such as Cornell, Georgetown and University of San Diego.

Taking a leave of absence in 1993, Wood left education to join the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for International, Appellate, and Legal Policy Matters. In this role, she was chiefly responsible for international enforcement of trade laws affecting the United States.

Appointment to Judge

Wood's work caught the attention of Senator Dick Durbin and President Bill Clinton in 1995, earning her a nomination to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Diane Wood was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate in March, and received her judgeship on June 30, 1995. She currently serves in the post.

Wood came to national attention in 2009, when many political experts considered her a top contender for a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, shorly after Justice David Souter announced his retirement. Justice Sonia Sotomayor received the title instead. In April 2010, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced that he would retire at the end of July. Wood's name has again received mention as a likely replacement.

In addition to her work on the Seventh Circuit, Wood has also worked on law reform projects through the American Bar Association and the Brookings Institution Project on Civil Justice Reform. She also sits on the Council of the American Law Institute, and is a member of the Board of Editors for the American Society of International Law.

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