Diane Wood

Diane Wood
Diane Wood
Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Assumed office
June 30, 1995
Nominated by Bill Clinton
Preceded by William Bauer
Personal details
Born July 4, 1950 (1950-07-04) (age 61)
Plainfield, New Jersey, U.S.
Spouse(s) Robert Sufit (2006–present)
Dennis Hutchinson (1978–1998)
Steve Van (early 1970s)[1]
Alma mater University of Texas, Austin

Diane Pamela Wood (born July 4, 1950) is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.

Wood was born in Plainfield, New Jersey. When she was young, she moved with her family to Texas, where her mother still lives. Wood graduated with a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin's Plan II Honors program in 1971. She earned her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1975, where she was an editor of the Texas Law Review, graduated with high honors and Order of the Coif, and was among the first women at the University of Texas admitted as a member of the Friar Society. Wood then clerked for Judge Irving Goldberg of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals from 1975 to 1976 and for Associate Justice Harry Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1976 to 1977. She was among the first women to clerk at the Supreme Court.

After working in private practice and the Executive Branch, Wood became the third woman ever hired as a law professor at the University of Chicago Law School. Wood was nominated to the Seventh Circuit by President Bill Clinton on March 31, 1995. She is considered a liberal intellectual counterweight to the Seventh Circuit's conservative heavyweights, Richard Posner and Frank Easterbrook.

Recently, many commentators have called Wood a leading candidate for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Barack Obama. She was a candidate to replace Justice David Souter when he left the bench in 2009, though that seat went to Sonia Sotomayor. In 2010, she was on the short list of potential nominees to take retiring Justice John Paul Stevens' seat, but that nomination instead went to U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan.


Early life

Diane Pamela Wood was born on July 4, 1950, in Plainfield, New Jersey[2] to Lucille Padmore Wood and Kenneth Reed Wood. Wood lived in nearby Westfield, New Jersey, where her father was an accountant at Exxon, and her mother worked for the Washington Rock Girl Scout Council. She is the middle of three children; she has an older sister Judy and a younger brother Bob. When Wood was sixteen, Exxon transferred her father’s job to Houston, Texas, and the family moved there. In 1968, Wood graduated as valedictorian from Westchester High School in Houston.

College and law school

Wood went on to the University of Texas at Austin, in the Plan II Honors program. In May 1971, after three years of study, Wood earned a B.A. with highest honors and special honors in English. At the time, she intended to go on to graduate studies in comparative literature. However, she decided to go to law school instead, and enrolled in the University of Texas School of Law in 1972.[3] During law school, Wood was an editor of the Texas Law Review and a member of the Women's Legal Caucus. Wood earned her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1975, graduating at the top of her class with high honors and Order of the Coif.

Professional career

Wood clerked for Judge Irving Goldberg of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals from 1975 to 1976 and for Associate Justice Harry Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1976 to 1977. Wood was one of the first women to serve as a law clerk for a Supreme Court Justice. After clerking at the Supreme Court, Wood was an attorney-advisor for the Office of the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State from 1977 to 1978. From 1978 to 1980, she practiced at the law firm Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C.[4][5]

Wood began her teaching career as an assistant professor of law at Georgetown University from 1980 to 1981. In 1981, Wood settled in Chicago and joined the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School. She was the third woman ever hired as a law professor at the University of Chicago and the only woman on the faculty when she began in 1981. Wood served as Professor of Law from 1989 to 1992, Associate Dean from 1990 to 1995, and (as the first woman to be honored with a named chair) the Harold J. and Marion F. Green Professor of International Legal Studies from 1992 to 1995. Since her appointment to the Seventh Circuit, Wood has continued to teach at the University of Chicago Law School as a Senior Lecturer in Law, along with fellow Seventh Circuit judges Frank Easterbrook and Richard Posner.[6]

Wood was a special assistant to the Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice from 1985 to 1987. From 1993 to 1995, she served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for international, appellate, and policy in the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.

Wood holds memberships in the American Law Institute and the American Society of International Law. She is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and serves on its Midwest Council. In the past, she was also a member of the American Bar Association. She has served on the governing councils of the ABA’s Section of Antitrust Law and its Section of International Law and Practice. Wood has pursued various law reform projects through the American Bar Association and the Brookings Institution Project on Civil Justice Reform. She was also instrumental in developing the University of Chicago’s first policy on sexual harassment. While still a full-time law school professor (prior to joining the Department of Justice and the Court of Appeals), she was a member of Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women.[7][8]

Federal judicial service

Wood was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit by President Bill Clinton on March 31, 1995, to a seat vacated when William Joseph Bauer took senior status. She was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate and received her commission on June 30, 1995. Wood became the second woman ever to sit on the Seventh Circuit. On the bench, Wood is known for building consensus on the court and rallying other judges around her positions.[9] Neil A. Lewis has called Wood an “unflinching and spirited intellectual counterweight" to the Seventh Circuit's well-known conservative heavyweights, Richard Posner and Frank Easterbrook.[10]

Wood is considered a likely candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court in an Obama Administration.[11][12] Speculation that she might be appointed intensified after Justice David Souter's retirement announcement,[10][13] and Wood was the first candidate interviewed for the post by President Barack Obama, who met with her at the White House while she was visiting from Chicago.[14] When Justice John Paul Stevens announced that he would retire at the end of October Term 2010, Wood's name was again widely put forward as a likely replacement.[15][16][17]

Noteworthy rulings

  • Bayo v. Napolitano, No. 07-1069 (7th Cir. Jan. 20, 2010) (en banc): Wood wrote for a unanimous en banc court, holding that an alien’s waiver of constitutional due process rights must be done knowingly and voluntarily and that the government may rely upon any valid ground to remove an alien illegally in the United States.
  • Bloch v. Frischholz, 533 F.3d 562 (7th Cir. 2008) (Wood, J., dissenting): An observant Jewish family affixed their mezuzah to the doorpost of their condo. The condo association repeatedly removed the mezuzah, and the family sued, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act. Wood argued there was sufficient evidence of intentional discrimination, but the majority of the panel disagreed. After the panel decision issued, the Seventh Circuit reheard the case en banc and unanimously reversed the panel majority. Wood’s dissenting opinion, highly protective of the right to free exercise, became the unanimous opinion of the Seventh Circuit. Bloch v. Frischholz, 587 F.3d 771 (7th Cir. 2009). Two judges who initially opposed Wood’s position joined the unanimous court.[9][18]
  • United States v. Warner & Ryan, 498 F.3d 666 (7th Cir. 2007): Former Illinois Governor George Ryan and Lawrence Warner appealed after they were convicted under the federal mail fraud statute and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Wood, over a dissent, affirmed. She found that the lower court acted within its discretion to handle difficult evidentiary and jury issues. Wood also concluded that the federal mail fraud statute – making it a crime for elected officials to deprive citizens of their intangible right to honest services – was not unconstitutionally vague.
  • Christian Legal Society v. Walker, [1] 453 F.3d 853 (7th Cir. 2006) (dissenting opinion): Christian Legal Society appealed after an Illinois district court denied their motion to enjoin Southern Illinois Law School to recognize a Christian student organization who required members to sign a statement of faith. The majority reversed, and Wood dissented, writing that the facts were insufficient to grant a preliminary injunction. Wood did not reach the merits of the case, her decision was purely procedural in nature. She wrote:

    If, in the end, the facts show that [the university's] nondiscrimination policy does not apply to student organizations, or that SIU is discriminating against CLS based upon its evangelical Christian viewpoint, the district court should certainly enjoin SIU from enforcing its policy.

    She cited Lawrence v. Texas to support the proposition that a state may ban discrimination based on either status or conduct. In April 2010, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, 08-1371 (Apr. 19, 2010). A Supreme Court blogger opined that Justice Kennedy was concerned, that the record might not have developed enough to move forward.[19] Judge Wood stated in her dissenting opinion in Christian Legal Society v. Walker that the record was insufficient to grant injunctive relief. A news reporter has speculated that her dissenting opinion could be a point of discussion in a Supreme Court confirmation proceeding.[2]
  • National Organization for Women v. Scheidler, 267 F.3d 687 (7th Cir. 2001) and 396 F.3d 807 (7th Cir. 2005); see also National Organization of Women v. Scheidler, 510 U.S. 249 (1994) (Supreme Court permits case to proceed under RICO); 537 U.S. 393 (2003) (Supreme Court reverses 267 F.3d 687, construing extortion predicate to RICO violations); 547 U.S. 9 (2006) (Supreme Court holds that physical violence not covered under Hobbs Act): Wood found that the district court did not err in concluding that the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act authorized private plaintiffs to seek an injunction. Wood recognized that:

    Protection of politically controversial speech is at the core of the First Amendment, and no one disputes that the defendants' speech labeling abortion as murder, urging the clinics to get out of the abortion business, and urging clinics patients not to seek abortions is fully protected by the First Amendment.

    However, Wood held that the injunction issued by the district court, which prohibited violent conduct by protesters, struck a proper balance and avoided any risk of curtailing activities protected by the First Amendment.
  • Goldwasser v. Ameritech Corp., 222 F.3d 390 (7th Cir. 2000): Because the plaintiffs had alleged only that Ameritech violated the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Wood decided that they had not shown that the antitrust laws have been violated. The opinion defers to Congress’s deregulation of the telecommunications market. Four years later, the position that Wood took in Goldwasser was approved by the Supreme Court in Verizon Communications Inc. v. Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko LLP, 540 U.S. 398 (2004).
  • Toys "R" Us, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission, 221 F.3d 928 (7th Cir. 2000): Wood affirmed the FTC's finding of a violation, but did so only on the ground that Toys "R" Us had arranged unlawful horizontal restraints that were against the interests of manufacturers, discount warehouses, and consumers. Wood declined to adopt the more controversial conclusion that the vertical agreements between manufacturers and retailers have an adverse effect on competition.
  • Tyus v. Urban Search Management, 102 F.3d 256 (7th Cir. 1996): Two African-Americans brought suit under the Fair Housing Act against those involved in running a luxury apartment complex. The marketing campaign for the complex used only images of white models and failed to provide notice that the complex was an equal housing opportunity provider. Wood reversed the lower court's judgment in favor of the owners of the complex noting serious mistakes made by the district court, including the judge's improper questioning of a prospective African-American juror about whether he had ever lived in public housing.
  • United States v. Thompson, 484 F.3d 877 (7th Cir. 2007) (joining opinion of Easterbrook, J.): Georgia Thompson was convicted of corruption charges in a 2006 case, but was released by a unanimous panel of the Seventh Circuit on the same day that oral argument was heard. The panel, including Wood, felt this unprecedented move was necessary given that the government's evidence was extraordinarily thin.
  • "JCW Invs. v. Novelty, Inc.", 482 F.3d 910, 917 (7th Cir. 2007): Judge Woods begins this important copyright case with these immortal words: "Meet Pull My Finger® Fred. He is a white, middle-aged, overweight man with black hair and a receding hairline, sitting in an armchair wearing a white tank top and blue pants. Fred is a plush doll and when one squeezes Fred's extended finger on his right hand, he farts. He also makes somewhat crude, somewhat funny statements about the bodily noises he emits, such as 'Did somebody step on a duck?' or 'Silent but deadly.'"


Wood has been called a "rock star of the written word."[20] She has written extensively in many areas of the law, and a full bibliography can be found at the University of Chicago Law School website. Some representative works include:

  • The Changing Face of Diversity Jurisdiction, 82 Temp. L. Rev. 593 (2009) (initially given as the Arlin M. and Neysa Adams Lecture, October 2009).
  • Trade Regulation: Cases and Materials, Casebook (with Robert Pitofsky & Harvey J. Goldschmid) (4th ed. 1997 to 6th ed. 2010).
  • The Bedrock of Individual Rights in Times of Natural Disaster, 51 Howard L.J. 747 (2008).
  • ‘Original Intent’ Versus ‘Evolution’, The Scrivener 7 (Summer 2005) (also published in Green Bag Almanac & Reader 267 (2007)).
  • Our 18th Century Constitution in the 21st Century World, 80 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1079 (2005).
  • Reflections on the Judicial Oath, 8 Green Bag 2d 177 (2005).
  • The Rule of Law in Times of Stress, 70 U. Chi. L. Rev. 455 (2003).
  • International Harmonization of Antitrust Law: The Tortoise or the Hare?, 3 Chi. J. Int’l L. 391 (2002).
  • Sex Discrimination in Life and Law, 1999 U. Chi. Legal F. 1.
  • Generalist Judges in a Specialized World, 50 SMU L. Rev. 1755 (1997).
  • The Impossible Dream: Real International Antitrust, 1992 U. Chi. Legal F. 277.
  • ‘Unfair’ Trade Injury: A Competition-Based Approach, 41 Stan. L. Rev. 1153 (1989).
  • Class Actions: Joinder or Representational Device?, 1983 S. Ct. Rev. 459.


Wood is married to Robert L. Sufit, a professor of neurology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, to whom she was introduced by her fellow Seventh Circuit Judge Ilana Rovner.[7] She previously was married in 1978 to Dennis Hutchinson, a professor at the University of Chicago School of Law.[7] Wood married her first husband, Steve Van, while both were students in law school.[7] Wood has three children with Hutchinson and three stepchildren.[21] She plays oboe and English horn in the North Shore Chamber Orchestra in Evanston, Illinois and in the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra in Chicago, Illinois.

Wood lives in Hinsdale, Illinois[7] and is Protestant.[15]

See also


  1. ^ McCormick, John; Coen, Jeff (May 24, 2009). "Supreme Court short list: Chicago appellate judge is driven, versatile 'moderate liberal'". Chicago Tribune. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-05-24/news/0905230217_1_appeals-court-supreme-court-appeals-of-federal-cases. 
  2. ^ Holland, Jesse (2010-04-09). "Potential Obama nominees for the Supreme Court". The Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2010-04-09. http://www.webcitation.org/5osDz48uS. Retrieved 2010-04-09. 
  3. ^ Herman, Eric (September 1995)). "Wood Comes to Seventh Circuit with Credentials and Common Sense". Chicago Lawyer: p. 4. 
  4. ^ "Diane P. Wood: University of Chicago School of Law faculty biography". http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/wood-d. 
  5. ^ "Diane P. Wood: American Bar Association biography". http://www.abanet.org/antitrust/at-bios/wood-diane.pdf. 
  6. ^ "University of Chicago School of Law, List of Senior Lecturers". http://www.law.uchicago.edu/people/faculty/all/all/Senior%20Lecturers. 
  7. ^ a b c d e John McCormick & Jeff Coen (May 24, 2009). "Supreme Court short list:Chicago appellate judge is driven, versatile 'moderate liberal'". Chicago Tribune. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-diane-wood-24-may24,0,4783025.story?page=2. 
  8. ^ http://www.philly.com/inquirer/world_us/20100411_Many_factors_weigh_into_Supreme_Court_choice.html
  9. ^ a b Pallasch, Abdon M. (November 13, 2009). "Chicago mezuzah discrimination federal case revived". Chicago Sun Times. http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2009/11/chicago_mezuzah_discrimination.html. 
  10. ^ a b Neil A. Lewis, "Potential Justice Offers a Counterpoint in Chicago, New York Times (May 11, 2009).
  11. ^ Adam Liptak (February 5, 2009). "Ginsburg Has Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/06/washington/06ginsburg.html. 
  12. ^ Carrie Johnson (February 6, 2009). "Ginsburg illness puts focus on Obama's choices". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/06/AR2009020603726_2.html?sid=ST2009020501946&s_pos=. 
  13. ^ "A look at potential Obama nominees to high court". Associated Press. April 30, 2009. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gImiXOF6nt1VkenWHlNkXnNwQHJgD97T7P400. 
  14. ^ Zeleny, Jeff (May 20, 2009). "Search for Supreme Court Justice Reaches Interview Stage". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/21/us/politics/21scotus.html. 
  15. ^ a b Nina Totenberg (April 7, 2010). NPR website "Supreme Court May Soon Lack Protestant Justices". NPR: Heard on Morning Edition. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125641988 NPR website. 
  16. ^ Bob Secter & Rex Huppke (April 10, 2010). "Judge with Chicago Ties is on Supreme Court Short List". Chicago Tribune. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/ct-met-diane-wood-profile-0411-20100410,0,4864517.story. 
  17. ^ Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Charlie Savage (April 9, 2010). "Stevens’s Retirement Is Political Test for Obama". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/10/us/politics/10stevens.html?scp=2&sq=diane%20wood&st=cse. Retrieved April 11, 2010. 
  18. ^ Michael Miner (November 13, 2009). "The Mezuzah Case — A Victory for Judge Diane Wood"]. Chicago Reader. http://www.chicagoreader.com/TheBlog/archives/2009/11/13/the-mezuzah-case-a-victory-for-judge-diane-wood. 
  19. ^ Lyle Dennison, [http://www.scotusblog.com/2010/04/big-decision-on-an-uncertain-record/ Big decision on an uncertain record? SCOTUSblog (Apr. 19, 2010)
  20. ^ Stephanie Mencimer, Sonia Sotomayor's Prose Problem, Mother Jones (June 3, 2009)
  21. ^ Capital University Law School Sullivan Lecture - About the Speaker

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
William Bauer
Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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