Judge William J. Bauer of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, who is now 92 years old, authored the opinion the U.S. Supreme Court let stand yesterday that says women have a constitutional right to abort an unborn baby specifically because of the baby’s sex, race or disability.
Bauer, who was appointed to the appeals court by President Gerald Ford in 1974, published the opinion on April 19, 2018—when he was 91.
Bauer sat on the three-judge panel that ruled in the case of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health.
This case resulted from a lawsuit Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky filed to stop a law the Indiana state legislature passed—and then-Gov. Mike Pence signed—in 2016. The Indiana law required that abortion providers bury or cremate the reamains of aborted babies and prohibited abortions in cases where the mother was seeking to abort the unborn child solely because of the child's sex, race or disability.
The appeals court panel, in the opinion authored by Bauer, ruled both elements of the law were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court reversed the appeals court on the question of whether Indiana could require that aborted babies be buried or cremated, but declined to take up the question of whether Indiana could prohibit sex-, race-, and disability-selective abortions because the 7th Circuit is the only appeals court that has so far made a ruling on this issue.
The biography of Judge William J. Bauer posted online by the Federal Judicial Center (and linked to the webpage of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit) says he was born in 1926 in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune published a profile of Judge Bauer in 1988 that noted his birthday was Sept. 15, 1926.
Bauer, according to the biography, graduated from Elmhurst College in 1949 and from DePaul University College of Law in 1952. President Richard Nixon nominated him as a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 1971. President Gerald Ford nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in 1974.
Since 1994—a quarter of a century ago—Bauer has been serving in “senior status” on the appeals court.
The uscourts.gov website, which is maintained by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts explains what it means to be a judge on “senior status.” It says:
“Article III judges who have met age and service requirements set by federal statute are eligible to take senior status if they are at least 65 years old and have served at least 15 years on the bench, or any combination of age and years of service thereafter that equals 80. Regardless of age, judges must serve at least 10 years to qualify for senior status.
“Upon taking senior status, judges may choose to handle a reduced caseload. Senior judges handle about 20 percent of the total district and appellate caseload. By taking senior status, even if maintaining a full caseload, a judge creates a vacancy on the court, to be filled by the nomination and confirmation process for Article III judges.
“Senior judges receive the salary of their position at the time of taking senior status as an annuity.
“Because there is no mandatory retirement age for Article III judges, there is no requirement that they take senior status.”