On June 4, 2013, President Obama nominated Patricia Millett to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Millett currently heads the Supreme Court practice and co-heads the national appellate practice at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP. As President Obama noted, “until recently, [Millett] held the record for the most Supreme Court arguments by a female lawyer.”
Patricia Millett was born in Dexter, Maine in 1963. She received her B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1985 and her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1988.
Upon graduation, Millett worked as an associate at the law firm Miller & Chevalier before clerking for Judge Thomas Tang of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. After completing her clerkship in 1992, Millett jointed the Appellate Staff at the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, where she served until 1996. During this period, she was as an Adjunct Professor of Legal Research and Writing at George Washington University Law School. From 1996 to 2007, Millett served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General at the Department of Justice. She has been a partner at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP since 2007; Millett leads the firm’s Supreme Court practice and co-heads the national appellate practice.
Millett’s legal career has been primarily focused on matters in appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. While serving in the Civil Division, she wrote briefs and appeared in approximately 20 oral arguments in federal and state appellate courts. She also drafted certiorari briefs for the Solicitor General’s Office for Supreme Court litigation. As Assistant to the Solicitor General from 1996 to 2007, Millett drafted briefs and presented oral arguments before the Supreme Court on behalf of the federal government. During this time, she argued 25 cases before the Court and was involved in the litigation of several high-profile cases. In Tennessee v. Lane, Millett prepared a brief on behalf of the United States in a successful defense of the constitutionality of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
For her work, she was awarded the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award in 2005 and was honored by the Environment and Natural Resources Division.
At Akin Gump, Millett has argued seven cases before the Supreme Court and 19 cases in federal and state appellate courts. As head of the Supreme Court practice and co-head of the national appellate practice, she primarily represents businesses and related entities, and has also represented individuals, American Indian Tribes, and state and local governments.
Through her significant pro bono experience, Millett has represented indigent individuals and non-profit organizations. In Samantar v. Yousuf, she successfully represented several plaintiffs in a human rights suit against a former Minister of Defense of the Barre regime in Somalia. The suit was filed under the Alien Tort Statute and Torture Victims Protection Act for atrocities ordered by Samantar and committed against plaintiffs and their families. Millett argued that Samantar was not entitled to immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The Supreme Court ruled that the Act does not apply to former foreign officials sued in their personal capacity for monetary relief.
More recently, Millett delivered the Supreme Court oral argument on behalf of plaintiffs in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. At issue was a restrictive Arizona voter law that required election officials to reject any voter registration application not accompanied by documentary proof of citizenship. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs and held that that law was preempted by the National Voter Registration Act.
In total, Millett has argued 32 cases in the Supreme Court, 36 in the federal courts of appeals, 4 in state appellate courts, 3 in federal district courts, and 1 in state trial court. The American Bar Association gave Millett its highest rating of unanimously well qualified to serve as a federal appellate judge.
Professional and Community Activities
Millett was admitted to the Massachusetts State Bar in 1990 and District of Columbia Bar in 1992. She is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as the United States Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Federal, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits. She is also admitted to practice before the United States District Courts for the District of Columbia and the Western District of Michigan, and the United States Court of International Trade.
Millett is a member of many professional organizations, including the Supreme Court Fellows Commission, American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and American Law Institute. She was honored by Chambers USA as a leading appellate lawyer and by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, along with numerous additional awards.