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Marsha Siegel Berzon

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Marsha Siegel Berzon (born 1945) is a federal appeals judge who has served on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals since 2000.

Education and legal training

Marsha Siegel Berzon graduated with a B.A. from Radcliffe College in 1966 and received her law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley in 1973. She then clerked for Judge James R. Browning of the Ninth Circuit from 1973 to 1974. Berzon then clerked for Associate Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. of the U.S. Supreme Court. She was Justice Brennan's first female law clerk.

Personal life

Berzon is the mother of Alexandra Berzon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Las Vegas Sun.

Professional life

Berzon was in private practice in Washington, DC from 1975 to 1977 and then moved to San Francisco, California where she practiced from 1978 to 2000 at Altshuler Berzon, a union-side law firm founded by herself, her husband Stephen Berzon, and Fred Altshuler. Berzon had a unique Supreme Court litigation practice and litigated many of the landmark cases during that period. Berzon was also a lecturer at UC Berkeley in 1992 and a practitioner-in-residence at Cornell Law School in 1994.

Federal judicial service

On January 27, 1998, Berzon was nominated by Bill Clinton to the Ninth Circuit for the seat vacated when John T. Noonan took senior status in late 1996. Clinton renominated Berzon on January 26, 1999. Berzon was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a 64-34 vote on March 9, 2000 and received her commission on March 16, 2000. She is widely considered one of Bill Clinton's most liberal judicial appointees.

In a 2009 decision, Judge Berzon wrote that while a San Francisco resolution condemning the Vatican is in line with current Establishment Clause jurisprudence, she was troubled by how close the resolution came to the establishment of an anti-Catholic stance.

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