On January 21, 2021, a federal district judge sent a three-sentence letter to the President of the United States. The letter conveyed that “[f]or the last 21 years, it has been an honor and a privilege to serve” as a district judge, and that “I feel it is time now for me to ‘go senior.’” That brought to an understated end the full-time judicial career of the Honorable William Alsup, United States District Judge for the Northern District of California.
The end may have been understated, but his full-time career has not been. Judge Alsup made outsized contributions to the law’s development, the way it is practiced, and indeed to the nation’s fabric and ideals. As he transitions to the still-considerable workload of an engaged senior judge, it is appropriate to take stock.