06.20.23 (PRESS RELEASE) – Today, in a bipartisan vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Julie Rikelman as a judge to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. She will be the first Jewish woman and first immigrant woman to sit on the First Circuit. Rikelman argued multiple abortion rights cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during her time as Litigation Director at the Center for Reproductive Rights, including the recent pivotal case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Statement from Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“We are proud that the Senate has confirmed our colleague, Julie Rikelman, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. She is an outstanding addition to the federal bench, who brings a first-rate legal mind, open-mindedness, and experience with how the law can support or impede the ability of individuals to live as equal members of society. Perhaps because of her childhood experience as a Jewish refugee from the former Soviet Union, she unfailingly treats everyone with dignity and respect and deeply appreciates the crucial role of independent and fair courts to a healthy democracy. For over a decade at the Center for Reproductive Rights, Julie led our litigation work in the United States, including personally litigating numerous cases to ensure that women and pregnant people had access to the full range of reproductive healthcare, including abortion care. We are grateful for her leadership and friendship, and we are confident that she will be a superb and fair judge.”
Rikelman and her family came to the United States as refugees from the former Soviet Union, encouraged by this country’s promise of equal justice under the law. She has dedicated her career to upholding and advancing that promise for all.
The Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health—which Rikelman argued in December 2021—challenged Mississippi’s abortion ban on behalf of the last abortion clinic in the state, Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Despite fifty years of precedent protecting the right to abortion, the Supreme Court made the radical decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and eradicate the federal right to abortion.
In March 2020, Rikelman successfully argued the U.S. Supreme Court case June Medical Services v. Russo, which was filed by the Center on behalf of Louisiana abortion clinic Hope Medical Group. The Center’s victory in the case preserved critical access to abortion in Louisiana by striking down a law that would have shut down most of the state’s clinics. Partly for her work on this case, she was named by Crain’s New York as one of its Notable Women in Law for 2021.
Rikelman’s other litigation work at the Center has included lawsuits against invasive ultrasound requirements, cases to preserve access to medication abortion, and defending the rights of young people in Florida and Alaska to make their own reproductive health decisions. Julie was also part of the Center’s team in the successful Supreme Court case Ferguson v. City of Charleston, which challenged a local policy requiring a public hospital to report to the police confidential medical information of low-income pregnant people of color.
Previously, Rikelman served as Vice President of Litigation at NBC Universal. She clerked for Judge Morton I. Greenberg of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Judge Dana A. Fabe of the Alaska Supreme Court. In 2004, she won the National Law Journal Pro Bono Award. Julie graduated with honors from Harvard Law School and Harvard College.
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